Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences

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How to design an Enzo so everybody immediately realizes that this must be the Enzo of the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences (D-CHAB)? And how can one design an Enzo while respecting the furniture designer’s concise language?

The first is easy as chemistry has its own unique language, one which very clearly symbolizes chemistry: the chemical structure. The latter is also easy if one takes into account that less is more. And what could be less than a chemical structure, which represents, with a very limited number of lines and characters, precisely what is meant? A molecule related to the ETH Zurich, known to everybody and also representing the interdisciplinarity of chemistry was easy to pick: Vitamin B12. Essential to life, this molecule has almost the same red color as the Enzo and is associated with extraordinary research at ETH Zurich as well as two Nobel prizes. It was therefore obvious what the design would look like: the chemical structure in white, with the red color of the Enzo as the background, along with two short statements on the D-CHAB and the molecule Vitamin B12 – and so not distracting the viewer from the beauty of this complex molecule.

It was difficult, however, to draw the structure in such a way as not to lose any important parts of the molecule as a result of the openings on the surface of the Enzo. Vitamin B12 is indeed a complex molecule, and the total synthesis of this vitamin, achieved in 1972 by the groups of Albert Eschenmoser (ETH Zürich) and Robert B. Woodward (Harvard University), is considered a milestone in chemistry.

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