Mireia Gordi i Vila, a Barcelona-born designer based in the U.K., created a project titled Fragile for this year’s Royal College of Art show that could replace bubble wrap and crumpled-up newspaper forever. It’s a membrane-based, reusable way to ship items that previously would have been very difficult to move from place to place, such as round or irregularly shaped objects that can’t be stacked or easily wrapped.
Fragile consists of multiple thin, pliable membranes stretched between frames, almost like a trampoline. In one brief-case-like style, the two membranes meet face-to-face and hinge at one end. You simply place your object on one membrane, as if laying it inside a briefcase, and then close another membrane on top of it, as if shutting the briefcase lid. This traps the object between two flexible membranes, suspended far away from anything hard or sharp (like the side of a box). You can then insert the whole thing, which looks sort of like a picture frame that swallowed an object, into slots in a hard box, knowing that the fragile object won’t touch them.
Another style uses three stretched-membrane sheets instead of just two, which seems ideal for trapping long items like bottles. Want to ship a few bottles of rare Madeira? This could be an elegant and safe way to do it.
The project isn’t meant to be cheap or disposable; the two designs are meant to be reused, and meant for very expensive stuff. You could easily imagine a museum or gallery, or a rare wine shop, using these to ship expensive items, getting the protectors sent back in the mail, and reusing them for the next shipment.