September 1, 2008
A home-improvement project by Greg Lynn evolves into the Blobwall, a modular wall system produced by Panelite.
Its name may reek of science fiction, but Greg Lynn’s Blobwall was conceived under pretty prosaic circumstances. Inspired by kids’ outdoor toys and 1970s Italian interiors, Lynn had the idea to put a colorful plastic wall inside the home he is building for his family in Venice Beach, California. He designed a hollow plastic form—a blob, as it were—that could function as a whimsical alternative to bricks, with heat-welding replacing mortar. The commercial applications quickly became apparent. “A very big percentage of small-scale construction is plastic,” he says. “But it’s some horrible beige plastic made to look like wood. I thought, Well, why not tackle this big chunk of the environment that, really, nobody designs?”
For now, however, the Blobwall’s commercial incarnation is more modest. Panelite is offering it in three standard modules—eight feet tall, in widths of three to six feet—which ship as finished walls already assembled and heat-welded together. “The modules are a way to make the Blobwall a little more accessible,” says Panelite’s cofounder and CEO, Emmanuelle Bourlier. But the company will also work with clients to customize the walls in virtually any size, color, or configuration.
Lynn hopes eventually to take the idea even further. “It’s in the air that people are thinking of these three-dimensional cellular lattice structures,” he says. “The Blobwall is simply one of the first, or the first, manifestation of it. But I think it’s very applicable at a lot of different scales.” Lynn says that the blobs, or a variation on them, could even be applied to building-scale construction. The Blobhouse? Now that really does sound like science fiction.
Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) is recyclable and impact- and puncture-resistant. The wall modules are available in three standard configurations and five color palettes, or they can be custom ordered.
Interior walls, partitions, and enclosures. (Panelite is currently testing its feasibility for outdoor use.)
Hollow “blobs” of LLDPE heat-welded into wall modules
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