The natural rock formations found in caves are an awesome thing to behold. But what if our tableware were "grown" in the same way? Inspired and aiming to mimic the same natural process with which stalagmites and stalactites form in caves, Dutch designers Laura Lynn Jansen and Thomas Vailly created a set of stone tableware that is "grown" rather than manufactured.
According to Dezeen, Jansen and Vailly placed 3D printed nylon structural skeletons into selected thermo-mineral springs where calcium carbonate (CaCO3) was gradually deposited on the frame, creating something quite similar to regular terracotta or porcelain once the thickness surpassed one centimeter. Say the designers:
Working with scientists, geologists and craftsmen, we targeted the thermo-mineral springs where this process happens very quickly due to the high concentrations of the minerals. To put it into context, if a leaf falls into one of these springs, it will turn into stone within a few months.
Rather than it being a subtractive process where stone is carved, this is an additive process where stone is acutally (but slowly) grown. The designers comment that there is an element of randomness in the process, as the design process partners with nature's whims:
We did not approach this project with the idea of having full control of the end product. What interested us was the idea of designing the embryo of a stone object and then letting a natural process take over. We designed shapes that would best express best the quality of the material, the technique and the intriguing randomness of the process.
We control the initial form and the time it's left in the spring but the shape, textures and colours are a complete surprise. Some pieces have even came out shiny and glittery.
It's an interesting way to reframe the process of making; rather than creating something on demand, these intriguing experiments question if we can shift to a future where products that can be grown as needed, rather than mass manufactured. More over at Dezeen.