London designer Marjan van Aubel could not have made these cupboards with regular porcelain; the weight would have been crushing. However, with foam ceramics she’s able to coagulate a piece of furniture that is large, durable and lightweight.
She developed the porcelain mixture on her own, creating light objects that can be handled in a similar way as china. When it’s being fired, the mixture expands to about three times its original size, which she compares to bread rising. She walks a line during the production in which she attempts to control the material, but also allows it the space it needs to grow freely.
She worked on a similar idea with James Shaw in a project they call the Well Proven Chair. Citing that processing wood from planks into products causes between 50 to 80 percent of timber waste, the designers found a way turn excess shavings into sturdy furniture using a special kind of resin. The mixture can be dyed and when it’s being prepared it resembles a chunky bowl of oatmeal. It expands to six times its original volume. This mixture is spread over a mold and has to be coaxed and held in place by the designers as it dries. The product was a nominee for 2013 Design of the Year Award.
Marjan van Aubel (born, 1985, the Netherlands) made her career creating products that bridge chemistry and design. She attended the Royal College of Art Design Products and the Rietveld Academy Designlab. She looks for innovative ways to harness the potential of technology and energy harvesting for the environment.
Above image: A closeup view of Marjan van Aubel’s foam china mixture, which expands to three times its size during production.
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Marjan van Aubel’s foaming wood chair production. Video by the designer.