The Lord Of The Rings’ Weapons Designer Invented This Cool New Material

Fast Company's Co.Design feature byKatharine Schwab

Extract: From Viggo Mortensen’s chainmail to architectural facades.

On the set of The Lord of the Rings, actor Viggo Mortensen had a nickname for the chainmail he and his costars wore: Kaynemail.

It was a reference to Kayne Horsham, the film’s creature, armor, and weapons art director. Though you might only see it on screen for a millisecond, each chainmail shirt that Horsham and his crew created contained 80,000 rings–which had to be linked and woven by hand. Over the course of three years, they interlocked millions of rings for chainmail suits worn by Mortensen’s Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and crew–not to mention hundreds of Orcs–in the series of films’ epic battle sequences. Once a shirt was completed, it was coated in pure silver to strengthen it and make it ready for the cameras–and all the fake blood.

Horsham knew there had to be a better way than the tedious process of hand-weaving the chainmail. Fast forward six years, and Horsham had created a injection molding process to mass produce polycarbonate chainmail–which he dubbed Kaynemaile, in honor of Mortensen’s nickname for the stuff.

But these days, Horsham isn’t making chainmail for movies. He’s making it for architects. The material is incredibly light, only uses 20% of the energy needed to produce steel, and is 100% recyclable. Ten years into Horsham’s business, Kaynemaile has been used in everything from carpark facades to privacy screens in tech offices. An installation of different colored types of Kaynemaile is currently on view in the middle of New York City’s Times Square as part of NYCxDesign, where it won best new architectural product at the NYCxDesign Awards.

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