Penny Webb


Auto-inflatables explores the design space of self-inflating structures. By using chemical reactions as a source of carbon dioxide on-demand, we are able to induce a wide range of interaction-triggered transformations in our designs. These include changes of shape, volume, texture, temperature, color, and movement. With these techniques, self-contained actuation can be achieved without the need for external hardware to activate material changes.

By applying an unexpected attribute to an otherwise familiar material, we are able to imbue a sense of wonder and surprise, as well as new functionalities to the experience of using a product.

Inflatable structures within the field of design have been explored in many capacities from structure, to buoyancy, to air travel. In the scope of this work, we explored the use of self-inflating structures from two perspectives, one, as a means to promote surprise through animation and shape transformations, and two, as a functional tool for things such as distributed assembly processes, transportation of goods, emergency response and architecture.

By combining our research with the development of specific geometric forms, we create a variety of primitive functionalities that can be adopted by us as well as others for their own explorative applications.