Artist Patrick Martinez wanted to make massive structures that were as immaterial as possible. He settled on straws as a building material, because they are mostly filled with air. In order to hold those straws together, he invented Link, a custom connector that transmogrifies the simple drinking straw into a 21st-century Tinkertoy. The ingenious connectors can be used flat to create intricate surfaces, or they can be snapped together to create 3-D star shapes.
Though the most exciting part of Linx are the formal possibilities ("It will allow me to realize monumental space filling structures," says Martinez), as much attention was paid to the logistics as to the final product. "Our main concern was to design a shape that would be cheap to produce despite its formal complexity," he says. "Getting the elements to intersect and click in perfectly was tricky."
After a series of prototypes, Martinez settled on the design you see here. The connectors are manufactured as flat grids that are easily snapped apart. This makes them cheap to produce and avoids the need for much in the way of packaging. When the project gets to scale, the connectors will be made of some kind of recyclable or bio-plastic.
Martinez says that as a visual artists, he has become interested in cross disciplinary practices that blur the lines between art and design. I find this approach really interesting. In order to realize a particular hand-crafted artistic vision, Martinez needed to create a mass-produceable product.
[Martinez is running a Kickstarter campaign to bring Linx to market.]