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The work of experimentation to express material manipulation as design strategy

For this experiment, a natural organism had to be selected and distilled into single point of interest (e.g. the movement of the Portuguese Man O' War). This area of study then had to be expressed through different methods of manipulation. It was very important to set appropriate parameters, control factors and variables to maximise the experiment's design potential.


BIOTYPE: Portuguese Man O' War

This siphonophore is a colonial organism, comprising of several individual animals (zooids/polyps) that exist in a symbiotic relationship. It is the only species in its genus and family and inhabits the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. The tentacles can reach up to 90ft, delivering a sting powerful enough to kill fish and  humans.


The Man O' War has no ability to propel itself. As a result, it relies on external conditions to travel anywhere - such as winds, currents and tides. The top of the organism that resembles a jellyfish so closely is actually a bladder full of gas that remains at the surface of the water while the tentacles drift below. The bladder is shaped like a sail and is inflated by a mixture of atmospheric gases. Its function as a sail and manipulation by air currents and winds act as the organism's primary source of movement.

"How can a material be manipulated with the force of air?"


The characteristic of the Portuguese Man O' War to translate air pressure into movement can be expressed as a design strategy through material manipulation. Hot glue was chosen for this as it can hold shape as it solidifies. When it cools it can capture the moment of movement.

Air Pressure:

Every part of the experiment was repeated with a variety of air pressures. As the applicater changes, so does the size and shape of the nozzle - this can also have interesting effects on the material.

"What would happen if the material was confined?"

"What would happen if these observations were applied to a form?"

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