Lately I’ve been trying to work out the details of my design ideas for furniture, lighting, and slip casting. I’ve spent months thinking over the details and variables, making models and going through “the process” We are heading towards the end of the semester and having to finalize the concepts projects. Through research and gathering samples for these large projects I’ve learned a great deal about new materials.
I read a story last week on Core77 about the brothers Calamai and their wool reprocessing factory. They started in 1878, and took secondhand wool materials and found ways to recycle, reprocess, repurpose, and ultimately make a business for themselves. After almost 150 years and several generations later, they are still continuing with the family business. One of their clients is Patagonia which carries the “Truth to Materials” line of clothing, devoted to highlighting their design and manufacturing processes.
Like the brothers Calamai I’ve been collecting used materials, from leather and rope, to steel pipes with various radial curves. I’m learning to weld steel, weave leather, slip cast a four part mold, and learning to do comparative research on a variety of materials for sourcing. It’s been a busy week of problem solving.
For each material, I’m learning the temperament and limits of natural fiber rope, the timing of release for slip molds, the different types of stretch on leather, and the transformative power of heat on metal. It’s been a great week of learning and I realized that in my design process, there are materials that speak to me more than others. Ceramics and wood are the most honest and intrinsically beautiful materials, which brings me to the allure of honesty.
An honest material does not lie about what it is or what its capacities are. The truth is in its strengths and weaknesses.