The Dilettante Scientist Designer Workshop

exploring Polycaprolactone as a universal material for making objects and furniture

A “dilettante,” from the Latin delectare, “to find delight in,” was someone who enjoyed a given activity. The earliest meaning of this word therefore drew attention to experiences rather than accomplishments; it describes the subjective rewards individuals gained from doing things […] But increasingly the emphasis has been to value behavior over subjective states; what is admired is success, achievement, the quality of performance rather than the quality of experience. Consequently it has become embarrassing to be called a dilettante, even though to be a dilettante is to achieve what counts most—the enjoyment one’s actions provide.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness (2013), 140

Inspired by the works of Berlin based Artist and Designer Jerszy Seymour, who uses a biodegradable plastic wax both as a construction material and as a metaphor for the creative energy in all people, we explored the power of DIY furniture design and fabrication.

Following Seymour’s concept of an amateur society we worked with a material named Polycaprolactone (PCL) and investigated the possibilities it provides as a structural joint and/or surface material for the creation of objects and furniture. PCL, also known as Polymorph, is a biodegradable polyester, which is hard and tough when cold but which softens to a putty-almost wax-like consistence when immersed in hot water. Yet unlike Seymour’s artistic approach we aimed at developing processes and tools to transform the material in a controlled manner.

The two-day workshop was split into three consecutive parts:

First we researched and understood the material’s distinctive properties, then we focused on its use as a universal joint and surface material and the development of simple tools and techniques to merge structural materials such as wood into functional assemblies and finally each group designed and manufactured a practical and formally interesting object. Except for using PCL no additional fasteners or joints were permitted.

Dessau International Architecture Graduate School

Ler Mei Hui Queena, Syed Mobahil Ahmad, Tania Sabrina Ortiz Ramirez, Juan Antonio Herrera Gonzalez, Polina Shvets, Mandana Daniali, Yegor Artyukh, Valerya Chuprova, Lakrisenko Anastasia, Guido Campi, Aleksander Mostalski, Marina Osmolovska, Eva Aburto, Sadia Humayra Mounata, Md. Ridwanul Haqne, Subhodeep Maji, James Wong Zhen Pai, Khor Hao Xiang, Lovie Tey, Jolynn Tan, Cedric Yan Wai Chun, Joyce Wee, Megan Chung Wei Jin, Ahmad Alyasein, Kyanoush Bitarafan

Manuel Kretzer


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