Dichroic Foil is nothing new

Dennis M Garvey W8


Dichroic foil, other than its application to glass facade of the UNStudio in Almere, has been used in a number of interior architectural elements such as light coverings, ceiling tiles, and wall partitions. The product (or one so strikingly similar that for my argument can be considered dichroic foil) has even seen use in few exteriors applications in the form of full wall and single unit overlays as seen in the images.

The product augments the space it reflects onto. It creates visual distortion, mystery, and obscure spatial relationships of light to surface. These characteristics are not so different than a material very familiar to us used in the great cathedrals around the world in our local neighborhoods: stained glass. Dichroic foil is different in that it creates a wider span of colors, also manageable, yet it can be utilized as a foil and not just an overlay. This gives opportunity for designers to push how they use the material to capture or apply dichroic foil to create space that is visual distortion, mystery, and obscure lighting.

This material is dynamic in the sense that it can resemble qualities of glass when overlaid, and also the augmentative properties of stained glass in one. This may pose a tricky yet stimulating challenge for designers looking to achieve such results. Dichroic foil, however, is not reinventing augmented space as I have hinted to earlier. Stained glass had centuries ago created “light that penetrated the interior of the 12th- and early 13th-century church took on a brilliance, even harshness, in contrast to the surrounding darkness.” This commentary by Encyclopedia Britannica on stained glass is an accurate description about the augmented quality that dichroic foil offers. In order to differentiate from stained glass, applications of dichroic foil might want to look to applications such as the Helix in IMU’s Ames Art School pictured below. Here, the space redefined by the colors that set into the normal glass that encloses it.tumblr_m0xu4ckspr1qh97ob






One comment

  1. matte184

    Liam F Matteson – Week 8

    Being that Dennis and I worked together on Project 2 and ended up using Dichroic foil as our material I thought it would be interesting to respond to this. I find it incredibly compelling that Dichroic foil is thought of as an older material in this instance. I agree that there are many similarities between the effects and dynamicity of stained glass, but I think the key difference is that Dichroic foil has the advantage of creating a much more perceptual experience. Unlike stained glass, Dichroic foil is not only made to let light through it, but it is also manufactured to reflect light. Light is reflected and perceived differently from different angles of view. Stained glass does not have the advantage of encompassing all the traits of translucency, reflectivity, and light shedding while also remaining very lightweight as a material. The biggest problem that I see in Dichroic foil is that it would be hard to find uses for it other than giving an area a bold & greater aesthetically pleasing look. To further your research on Dichroic foil I would consider these questions: How can light interact in different environments and how can it be misused? Could the foil be used in more abstract thinking such as sculptures? The evidence seems to show that it is possible to do this from your picture at ‘Helix’ in the IMU’s Ames Art School. Dichroic foil could also find uses in unexpected ways such as pattern recognition in wayfinding methods to know your way around a city better. In the future, as Dichroic foil becomes more commonly used, these ideas that I presented may become a reality.

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