Lighting in which droplets capture the light while quivering gently like morning dew
Making unprecedented use of superior hydrophilicity
At we+ inc., we have created a number of works with the approach of picking up a natural phenomenon. We were thinking of this when NOSTRA™ was first shown to us by Mitsui Chemicals. We have produced a work using water before, but water is hard to control. However, we hoped that its characteristics would help us to control water and allow us to present an unprecedented form of water.
The most significant feature of this material is hydrophilicity. This means that it eliminates the presence of water. While we felt that this could give us a clue to the creation, we had difficulty finding inspiration. We tried pouring water onto a film coated with NOSTRA™ to observe what shape would be produced. We carried out this trial again and again for about three months. One day, we turned the film over. We then noticed that water was attached to it without falling off. We found this interesting. After wondering what it was all about and why this phenomenon fascinated us so much, we realized that it was identical to morning dew. The dew on the tip of a leaf is breathtaking. A droplet that never falls while looking as if it is about to do so gives us a feeling of tension. We decided to express this marvel in a tangible form. The challenge was to identify the ideal size of a droplet at which it looks most beautiful. It must be neither too large nor too small. Our investigations discovered that the size of 20mm was optimal. At this size, we applied NOSTRA™ . Since we thought of creating lighting that would feature droplets that capture the light while quivering gently like morning dew, we examined the balance between the wire for hanging the plate and the droplets, the look of the product and its structure as well. Our stance in production is to dismiss artistic frills and rely on natural phenomena. Our approach may have deviated from the intended manner of using NOSTRA™, but we believe that the product represents our design philosophy and provides a different perspective from the conventional ones by using water.
- Disguise photo
〈Photography by Masayuki Hayashi〉
- Drought photo
〈Photography by Masayuki Hayashi〉
About the material
NOSTRA™ is an ultraviolet (UV) curable coating material with a very high level of hydrophilicity and hard coating performance developed with Mitsui Chemicals’ original concept and molecule design technology.
NOSTRA™ Coating adds superior anti-fouling, anti-fog, abrasion-resistant, anti-static and quick-dry properties.
Some conventional hydrophilic coating materials, such as general anti-fog coating materials, make droplets into an even water film. A surface-active agent included in these materials, namely soap, dissolves in the water on the surface to reduce its hydrophilic. It is identical in terms of principle to the anti-fog effect of soap on the mirror in a bathroom. Some other conventional hydrophilic coating materials have their molecules incorporated with soft water-absorbing polymers that are intended to absorb droplets. However, both types of conventional coating materials have their own issues. With the first type, all the surfactant is dissolved and gone and the performance is lost after a certain amount of time, and with the second type, the wear resistance declines dramatically if more water-absorbing polymer is incorporated for a stronger anti-fog effect.
In response to these issues, the UV curable reactive hydrophilic ingredient of NOSTRA™ is accumulated on the surface to solidify with UV curable resins with enhanced intermolecular strength. This design provides NOSTRA™ with unprecedented characteristics, specifically water resistance and wear resistant properties as well as a high level of hydrophilicity that was unable to be reached with organic materials, for which it earns high marks from many different customers.
Another feature is that a highly hydrophilic film is generated merely by irradiating it with ultraviolet light for just a few seconds after coating and drying. This means that NOSTRA™ is so friendly to the environment that it reduces volatile substances in production worksites and helps achieve energy conservation and greater productivity.
NOSTRA™ has potential for use in a wide variety of applications, given that it can be used for coating many different materials.
You may have heard words such as water repellency and hydrophilicity in connection with coatings for automobiles.
Water repellency turns water into balls that roll. When water comes into contact with a hydrophobic surface, or a surface that is not compatible with water, water molecules gather to minimize the contact surface and eventually take a spherical form.
Hydrophilicity is the opposite of this. When water comes into contact with a hydrophilic surface that is compatible with water, water spreads over it to maximize the contact surface. As a result, a water film is formed. Fogging occurs when a surface has some parts onto which fine droplets are attached and other parts without droplets in the event of vapor condensation. On NOSTRA™, droplets immediately transform into a film on the whole surface, so fogging does not occur.
For this reason, NOSTRA™ was preconceived as having a function of spreading water and making it invisible. In this project, however, we+ inc. applied NOSTRA™ onto part of a water-repellent plate. The hydrophilic NOSTRA™ coating gathers water, combines with water and holds onto water instead of letting it fall off when in an inverted position.
A shift in thinking like this will broaden the range of applications of NOSTRA™ and other hydrophilic materials.
In this initiative, we+ inc. worked to present hydrophilicity, a technology that is difficult to exhibit, in a visible and attractive form. At first glance, you may not understand what this product is all about, but surprisingly, it is designed as lighting consisting of a transparent plate and droplets retained on its bottom surface in a geometric layout. The designers successfully developed the hydrophilic function of NOSTRA™ into a plain and esthetic representation.
At first, we could hardly imagine how it would look when light passed through it. We unconsciously gazed intently at the fantastic movement of light and shadows generated by the quivering of the water. During the photo shoot, we all exclaimed “Wow” countless times!
We would like to offer our sincere thanks to we+ inc. for creating the superb design and to Mr. Masayuki Hayashi for the stunning shot of the product. On this occasion, we hope that many people will gain an appreciation of NOSTRA™ and that we will discover new horizons of hydrophilicity.
- About Mitsui Chemicals：https://jp.mitsuichemicals.com/en/
- we+ / Toshiya Hayashi, Hokuto Ando
- A contemporary design studio that was established in 2013. It engages in direction and design in many different domains and pursues experimental approaches with the use of different technologies and special materials. Its works are presented not only in exhibitions in Japan and overseas, but also at Gallery S. Bensimon in Paris, Rossana Orlandi in Milan and other design galleries.
- Concept+Design+Development/Toshiya Hayashi, Hokuto Ando, Yohei Aoki, Airi Sekiguchi
- Photo/Masayuki Hayashi
- Movie/Kenichi Murase