Design Without Limits: In Search of Good Material

Using fiber, metal, plastic and ingenuity, these designers are redefining the fabrics of our lives

Reshaping Light

François Azambourg, 42, always figured he would be an architect. Then, in 1985, while a design student in Paris, he had an idea for a disposable coffee machine made entirely of paper. The contraption won a contest at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs--and launched Azambourg's love affair with unusual materials. Twenty years later, he is a leader of the French contemporary-furniture design movement.

Fascinated by the idea of "light as material," Azambourg began developing a lampless lampshade in 2002. Created with the textile company Dubar-Warneton, the shade is wired throughout with fiber-optic thread typically used in the aviation and...

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