If you needed any more proof that collaborations between designers and manufacturers can spark magic, look no further than the Chameleon Collection, a new series of metal finishes formulated by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders and architectural metal design studio PURE + FREEFORM. Designed for use on high-end architectural façades, this series of eight exterior finishes reveals exciting possibilities for designers in search of dynamic metal cladding options.
The unique metal finishes feature “optical pearl textures and iridescent effects” in geometric and organic patterns that lend each surface a unique, intricate texture. Blurring the line between architecture and fashion, the eight finishes are split into four poetic subcategories: Sensitive, featuring rounded details and soft tones, Dynamic, featuring angular geometries with more masculine colors, Romantic, featuring pale hues and lacey details, and Luxurious, featuring a cool combination of black and gold tones.
Each finish presents a subtle texture when viewed from a distance, but reveals an intricate canvas of pattern and texture when seen up close.
According to Marcel Wanders, each pattern — a striking balance between bold textures and subtle colors — was inspired by nature and the urban condition in equal measure. “Directed by the intensity of the sun, the movement of the clouds, the density of urban humidity and the dance of its reflections, our architectural PURE + FREEFORM skins present an endless symphony of voices, creating an infinite architectural opera that makes us experience our cities every day anew. Architectural subtlety like never before,” said Wanders.
The surface complexity of each metal finish gives it a unique, ever-changing appearance when applied to architectural façades. Depending on the angle and intensity of sunlight cast upon it, the metal will shimmer and change color throughout the day. Buildings clad in the material will always look unique, season after season, lending the architecture a level of dynamism rarely seen in urban settings.
The name of each individual finish in the Chameleon Collection speaks to its unique texture. “Feather”, one of the Sensitive skins, is lent a soft shine thanks to the presence of iridescent gloss-matte shimmering silver pearl. “Diamond”, one of the Dynamic skins, features deep layers of grey, silver pearl, blue pearl and white pearl mix that create an intense, multifaceted appearance.
“Lace”, one of the Romantic skins, is given a strong sense of depth thanks its gradated optical embossing. “Hexagon”, one of the Luxurious skins, features a gunmetal black base topped with strongly saturated and gradated gold for a bold, rich aesthetic.
The thoughtful articulation and resulting beauty of the material is due to an innovative cross-disciplinary collaboration between designers and manufacturers. “This project allowed us to capitalize on the open-mindedness of critical thinkers outside the architectural field and create a sense of place from the outside in,” said Marcel Wanders’ Creative Director, Gabriele Chiave.
Together, the eight skins offer architects a wide array of surface effects suitable for projects in a variety of contexts. While each appears very different from the next, they all have a certain quality in common: they catch the sun’s rays in unusual and exciting ways, transforming light into an architectural material of its own. The Chameleon Collection emerges as an exemplar for a new genre of façade material, one that is no longer inert, but rather animated, dynamic, reflecting the urban life that surrounds it.
If collaborations between designers and manufacturers always result in such imaginative building-products and materials, they should be encouraged more now than ever. Understanding this fact, PURE + FREEFORM invites architects and designers to work with them in developing custom, site-specific finishes for their projects. The company’s innovative, symbiotic creative process means we can look forward to more unique metal finishes beyond the stunning Chameleon Collection in years to come.
All images courtesy of PURE + FREEFORM