Illusory Material is a design methodology, computational workflow that breaks down design medium into 'matters', restructuring and reinventing materiality to create unique expressions, forms, properties and experiences.

We invented a lenticular 3D printing framework that enables the designer to create dynamic color and texture in a controlled manner. We aim to push past the limitations of traditional design, removing the need to simply replicate materials that already exist, creating dream-like material expressions that only exist in the digital world.
“Illusory Material” (Optical Textiles) is a new technique for designers to approach product design unencumbered by the limitations of the status quo. We foresee the opportunity in material creation instead of material collection for product designers and agencies using multi-material 3D printing so that material creation does not separate from the design of the object, and the material itself does not have to be a single layer of a separate entity that only exists uniformly on an object surface.

Imagine designing everyday products with ‘impossible’ materials that only exist in the digital world; imagine a future where designers can manipulate the color, texture, and refractivity of materials across time and different viewing angles; imagine that the future of color creation is not based on layers of chemical paints, but a combination of 3D printed optical lenses and simple color blocks; imagine a physical material can inherently display dynamically; imagine an invisible object that is informative, a hard object that feels soft.
With ‘Illusory Material’, we propose to get away from surface limitations in object and industrial design by adding another dimension to the material interface. By embedding information into three-dimensional matter (voxel), we introduce ‘Illusory Material’: a new material organization that responds directly to user intervention and the environment. With multi-material 3D printing, we envision a future in product development where the design of surface detail, texture, refractivity can finally be merged with the overall product composition from the beginning of the design process. With voxel printing capability, we designed and tested material interfaces with depth and explored volumetric behavior that is both visually and functionally meaningful to the user. By assigning different material properties to each voxel in multi-material printing, designers can create object interfaces with various material distributions that can display unique material expressions. We think that that illusory material may represent for tomorrow’s state-of-the-art.
0 degree viewing point
10 degree viewing point
0 degree viewing point
10 degree viewing point
"Optical Textiles" on flexible material
"Optical Textiles" response to user intervention


For years, 3D printing has played an important role in product development, design prototyping, customization and rapid production. In most cases, it gives designers a preview of what their design will look and feel like before mass production. Recent research also explores applications in producing highly customized products like shoes and clothes which cannot be mass-produced. ‘Illusory material’ opens up new opportunities in multi-material 3D printing by freeing printing capability to create materials with unique expressions that cannot be done using other manufacturing processes or workflows. It brings freedom to create 3D digital materials into the physical world.
Our Equipment

We create "illusory" materials in a controlled manner, with computation and multi-material voxel printing