Starting WBPI’s Beyond Covid conference was architect Giulio Masotti, CEO, of Wood-Skin, which is revolutionising the use of wood-based panels in interior design.

He asked the question – how do wood and panels become more digital?

Software development – buildings are becoming lighter, structures are becoming thinner.

“We create first a composite material that blends together rigid surfaces using wood and textiles to create a composite with a high potential for flexibility. We collect materials from the real world and bring them into the digital world.”

Using composite materials allows the incorporation of infinite hinges to rigid surfaces so they assume unique 3D geometries.

“Completely different shapes can be made using the innovations of machining and software. Software development allows us to interact with the building in a completely new way and brings the concept of the panel into a new reality.”

Digital design allows the formation of complex structures using individual polygon shapes. The raw materials – such as plywood, MDF, laminates and veneers – still have to be machined flat but what used to be a normal panel can now become a different surface made of many polygons and geometric complexity, “bringing an entire new world of technological possibilities”.

“We try and treat the boards as a circuit board that can connect several functions and bring several advantages,” he said.

Mr Masotti shared one of Wood-Skin’s most notable projects – the ceiling of a main hall at the United Nations building in Geneva. This ceiling is one of the largest freeform surfaces in the world.

Foldable panels can also be produced by Wood-Skin – with individual panels able to be folded into a complex 3D shape – for uses such as internal wall panelling.

“We do believe in this process of digitalisation, in that we are trying to make wood and panels entangled and overlapped with the design processes.”

Wood-Skin’s new Fold Panels collection are inspired by origami.


“They are very complex panels in terms of the geometry but we achieve them with the easiest amount of effort for installation. You can see how these panels from one single sheet fold into shape like a pop-up book. The results can be stunning, very high value and are very innovative.

“It is now possible to create digital tools giving designers the power to customise the product. We have built powerful online configurators that take full advantage of the product and give clients the possibility to compose and configure ceilings and walls sourcing the entire offering of parts from us. You can make the panel fit the measurements of your wall and everything that is designed on the configurators can be made in the machining process. We make on demand and ship the components in flat form to site, making the process more sustainable.”

Mr Masotti emphasised that by using some other materials, such as textiles, with wood-based composites it was possible to achieve enhanced mechanical behaviours.

Wood-Skin’s origami concept is being applied to self-assembly/programmable furniture. It has a partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where it designed a self-assembly table which, amazingly, only requires you to pull the table into position from a flat panel.

Wood-Skin is planning to release a collection of this type of furniture soon based on origami technology.

“The potential of adding an entire world of development that is software customised for your needs is just massive,” said Mr Masotti. “It doesn’t just open up potential for your products but entirely new business models and fields of application for your product that were not conceivable before. In the same way that AI can just outpace our mind, the overlapping of software layers to traditional materials mean you can do things you can’t understand.”

Mr Masotti urges the wood-based panels industry to work with the young generation of designers who are familiar with these technologies and concepts.

“We see ourselves as almost a unique supplier of a new generation of surfaces that is very hard to build with traditional techniques, if not impossible.”