2014 - ongoing
Material experimentation in a specific context
Marble and ceramic industries are facing deep changes in the way they relate to production, environment, and social contexts. Calcarea imagines and confronts with a post-industrial future in which byproducts and waste become the starting point of new productions.
To create new products for small companies in Tuscany we decided to work with local marble and stone factories, responding to the problem of waste production in this sector, by focusing on the re-use of a sawing byproduct.
This powder – usually in the form of mud – is difficult to stock and highly expensive to dispose of it, for these reasons many manufacturers pour it into streams, damaging badly the local ecosystem. We suggested an enriched system, introducing a new stakeholder whose activity is to collect, clean and transform the waste into a raw material to be distributed. Our research aims to connect the marble and stone sector with the ceramic one through the creation of new experimental material, consisting of a mixture of clay and stone waste. These sectors have a long historical tradition in Tuscany, and both of them are now slowly disappearing: the objective was to generate an added and distributed value along the whole production chains.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
The importance of Calcarea lies in the perspective of giving new aesthetic, social and economic relevance to marble and stone waste, by questioning the ways to reevaluate a material, and identifying the outputs that could be designed in relation to its features. Our work was focused on a small area, where the waste product was more than 100.000 tons per year. In other more extended territories, this amount is proportionally bigger. The improvement of this project would be an exciting challenge, from an economic point of view and, especially, from a sustainable perspective.
THE EXPERIMENTAL MATERIAL
The design process culminates with the scientific analysis to provide official certifications to the mixture and its uses, conducted in collaboration with the Italian National Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics (CNR). This material could be transformed into slip, therefore suits both industrial and handcrafted systems of production.
We designed a collection of homewares inspired by the quarries lines. To express the essence of the material we decided to use two different finishing techniques: a transparent glazed one, to show the complete clay-like production process, and a rough one, to disclose the core mixed material, its nature, its visual and tactile qualities.
In the collection every vessel is unique: due to the heterogeneity of the waste composition, each item turns out differently.
THE CERAMIC EDITION
A collection with the same design was realised in ceramic to raise funding for the further development of the research and material experimentation.