Cutting-Edge Ceramics: Playing Tricks With Textures

Abhinand Lath recalls being particularly moved by a poem by an 11th century Japanese woman who described strolling through a young bamboo forest so delicate that her movements caused the stalks and their shadows to change colors. Bamboo happened to be the topic of Lath's master's thesis in architecture at the University of Michigan. Yet the poem, and the idea of colors subtly changing through variances in movement and light, stuck with him.

A year later, in 2003, the idea transformed into the foundation of a company he started called SensiTile, which is based in Detroit. In essence, SensiTile is a...

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