In Mexico, handcrafts and folk art have shaped society for centuries. Often referred to as artesanía—a blend of indigenous and European designs—the country’s rich history of artisanal techniques has generated some of the most celebrated handmade objects, from the decorative to the utilitarian. Today, while crafts products enjoy a resurgence in popularity, inequalities persist, posing a number of obstacles in sustaining centuries-old traditions. Since 2009, the Oaxaca-based organization Innovando la Tradición has been invested in rethinking the imperatives of clay-based crafts, while promoting sustainable practices. Besides running educational activities across potters’ communities in the region, the group’s commercial branch, Colectivo 1050°, identifies opportunities for the distribution of handmade objects to contemporary and high-end markets. AN Interior contributor Benoît Loiseau speaks with cofounder Diego Mier y Terán about the organization's challenges and hopes. AN INTERIOR: You’ve spoken extensively about the risks of seeing Oaxacan pottery disappear. Are you noticing any progress? COLECTIVO: It’s likely that 40 percent of the villages will stop producing pottery within our lifetime. That said, I think there’s hope, and we have seen villages revive their craft traditions. There’s currently a trend in the market for crafts and handmade products, and we are witnessing an increased interest in traditional pottery and ceramics. It is one of our missions to elevate the economic value of traditional pottery, but also its cultural and symbolic value. Ultimately, though, our goal is to change the narrative around how artisans are perceived and presented in the dominant discourse of institutions—one based on the exoticization of otherness—from museums, NGOs, designers, chefs, and government. AN: Do you find that younger generations are interested in taking up the craft? Is there an issue of perception? C: For young people, to see their parents struggling financially in the profession is clearly not an incentive. Earth is seen as something dirty, not elegant, cool, or modern. For that generation it often feels more dignified to build cars or computers. But we have seen changes when communities start earning more, with increased sales. The whole relationship within the family then changes, with children looking to take part in the workshops. We just had an exhibition at the Franz Mayer Museum [Mexico City], where we showed traditional pieces, made in the present day. It’s a big change; it’s really saying that the craft is alive. Clay is so ingrained in the history of Mexico—and of humankind—if given a little window, people will engage. AN: A number of contemporary designers in Mexican cities work closely with artisans and craftsmen. How do you envisage best practice? C: Best practice is in the making, but I don’t see a critical discussion taking place around design in Mexico at the moment, particularly in terms of colonizing practices. Designers are fixed on the fetishization of crafts, with little consideration for social change. It’s a dangerous and harmful situation for artisanal communities because designers are reproducing inequalities. AN: In August you curated the IV Encuentro Nacional Alfarero Independiente, the fourth edition of the national gathering of potters and artisans from 12 states and 25 different villages, which gathered over 85 participants this year. What was the focus of the event? C: The main focus was on sharing knowledge. It is very rare for artisans, particularly potters, to share knowledge and techniques with other villages, even less so other states. On the one hand, because the work demands to be in a closed environment, but also because there’s a certain level of competition—they’re nervous their work would be copied. AN: Can you tell me about one of your most significant pieces? C: The Tonaltepec Bowl is made with a very unique technique. Archaeologists have found examples in the area dating from as far back as 4,000 years. Still 30 years ago, most of the women in that remote village worked with clay, selling their products at the local market. When we visited in 2012, only five ladies were working with clay, and two years later, they had basically stopped, because the market had disappeared. So we started a series of workshops with the children in the village and other members of the community. Altogether, this generated somewhat of a revival, and production resumed. The bowl made it to Noma’s pop-up restaurant in Tulum last year. AN: How do you redistribute profit, and ensure that your activities are sustainable? C: Most of the products we sell are continuous. We test them, to see if the market responds to them. Forty to 50 percent of the retail price of the product goes back to the artisans. The rest goes to operations—maintaining shops, administration, packaging—then there’s a marginal 10 percent profit that pays for the activities of Innovando la Tradición.
Posts tagged with "ceramic":
Last week over 100,000 people wandered through the porticos of Bologna, Italy, to attend Cersaie, the annual international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings. The show surveyed nearly 900 exhibitors showcasing a world of tiles and bathroom surfaces. Why Italy? And why ceramics? According to Ceramics of Italy, the trade organization that coordinates the exhibition, in 2017 Italy’s 145 ceramic tile manufacturers produced 930 million square feet of tiles, accounting for an overall revenue of €514.9 million. The material has been the main staple for flooring and surfaces because of its beauty, cost-effectiveness, and durability, but also because of its environmentally sustainable qualities. Its intrinsic characteristics are "green"; the material is more sustainable over its entire lifecycle than products like linoleum (which is cheap but has a very short life cycle) or naturally occurring materials like marble (which is expensive but can be expensive to maintain). Here, we review only a handful of what we saw in the collections that debuted in Italy last week, though some of the new colorways and large format sizes below premiered at Coverings and Salone del Mobile earlier this year. We encourage you to also have a look at the Cersaise story on our Instagram account to see more tile and style at the world's premiere show for ceramic tile and furnishings. Wide&Style Dark Edition ABK Featuring a dark-hued background, this collection encapsulates six floral motifs that would fit right in at a Vivienne Westwood boutique or as a backdrop in a Siouxsie and the Banshees music video. The digitally-printed slabs are made-to-order in customized dimensions along with a rendering and instructions for cutting and installing. Majestic collection Valentino by Ceramiche Piemme For forty years, the Italian fashion house Valentino and luxury ceramic tile manufacturer Ceramiche Piemme have collaborated to make glamorous wall and floor tiles. Majestic, the newest brainchild from the collab, is inspired by gorgeous veined marbles like Carrara, Calacatta, and Emperador. While the materials imitate the naturally occurring rock, these ceramic alternatives are much more cost effective and are heat-treated to last for decades. Eterno Versace Ceramics Inspired by shou sugi ban—the traditional Japanese technique to preserve and finish wood using fire—these tiles feature a charred, tactile motif rendered by high-resolution digital printers. The full effect is accentuated by gold inlay tracing the frame of the trim with the original Versace bordering that surrounds the Medusa head in the brand’s logo. The collection dropped in May at Salone del Mobile in Milan, while new larger format tiles were released at Cersaie last week. Operae ORNAMENTA Earlier this year in April at Coverings in Atlanta, ORNAMENTA unveiled Operae, a large format family of seven collections of saturated floor and ceiling tiles—all of which are digitally fabricated and completely customizable. The eclectic collections—Gradient, Squares, Domestic Jungle, Rugs, Deco, and Terrazzo—feature colorful themes ranging from an Art Deco motif with geometric shapes to a pattern with a foreground of palms printed on a millennial pink background. GRANDE in Treverkfeel finish MARAZZI Emulating the look and texture of a natural wood grain, the Treverkfeel collection is spired by the knots and rings found in large planks of American walnut. Bigger sizes and wider thicknesses span the breadth of this large-format collection offered in slabs of 600 by 3200 millimeters with 6 millimeter thickness and 1620 by 3240 millimeters with 12 millimeter thickness. They are offered in four natural shades: ivory, beige, cherry, and brown. Titan CENTURY by Finbec Group Gritty and unfinished, Titan is a collection of seemingly-aged tiles in seven metal and cement finishes. The collection is one of the new brands of oversize ceramic slabs aptly dubbed OVER, which is offered in nine thicknesses and sizes.
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In the countryside outside of Buffalo, New York, Boston Valley Terra Cotta (BVTC) has an impressive industrial terra-cotta operation—a potter’s studio on steroids, with dust and clay scattered around a relatively calm factory. Since 1996 “Rusty” Raymond Conners has spent his days by the window and among his plants, carving intricate designs in the capitals of columns and the faces of tiles. BVTC started in 1889 as a flower pot business, and has since morphed into one of the leading-edge facade manufacturers in the world, producing a range of baked-clay cladding products that are being used by everyone from Machado Silvetti to Morris Adjmi to Annabelle Selldorf. How did this transformation take place? In the last five years, something remarkable has happened. In 2011, Omar Khan, associate professor and chair of the Department of Architecture at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning (UB/a+p), and Mitchell Bring, a researcher and adjunct professor, realized the potential in Boston Valley’s operation. Bring has been working with some former students of UB/a+p to incorporate the latest in digital documentation, design, and fabrication technologies to help BVTC remain at the forefront of the terra cotta industry. What started as a couple of interns is now a whole team of digital designers and fabricators. The digital documentation team uses 3D scan data to enhance more traditional techniques of reproducing historic buildings in preservation projects, such as Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building, or New York’s Woolworth Building, which the company is working to restore at the moment. In order to make the process the most efficient, designers use CAD to rationalize the component parts that make up any large ceramic assembly. In a small corner of the factory stands a digital fabrication shop, now led by UB/a+p alum Peter Schmidt. They work with mesh editing software, a 5-axis CNC router, and a 5-axis CNC hot wire cutter to make models that are then translated into molds for the traditional methods such as hand pressing, ram pressing, or slip casting. Some worried that these new tools would cut into the work of the skilled craftspeople, such as the sculptors who hand-finish many of the more intricate pieces. However, once implemented, these artists found that they actually had more time to focus on the part that they really enjoy—sculpture—because many of the mundane tasks were cut out of the process. John Ruskin would be proud. In addition to making traditional techniques more efficient, BVTC and UB are working together to think about how digital technology can allow more experimentation with clay-based building systems. This was the basis for Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop, a week-long conference at UB/a+p, where architects, engineers, artists, and other leaders in the industry came together to share ideas and discuss what might be the future of clay and terra-cotta. The conference was a collaboration of Alfred State University, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, UB/a+p, and Data Clay, an art collective that is pushing the boundaries of digital craft and ceramics. Keynote speakers were Jason Oliver Vollen, architect and principal of High-Performance Buildings at AECOM in New York; Willam M. McCarthy, ceramics professor at Alfred State University; and Neil Forrest, ceramic artist and educator at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Canada. “While many architects design with industrially-produced ceramic components, they may have limited material understanding of clay, and most artists and designers trained in ceramics may have few opportunities to explore the medium at a scale beyond the object,” says Bill Pottle, international sales and marketing manager at Boston Valley Terra Cotta, who helped organize the gathering. “By attending this workshop, they will have the opportunity to collaborate and deepen their understanding of and experience with the potential for terra-cotta in the architectural setting.” Experiments in Clay What does clay have to offer? What characteristics are unique of clay, and what can it offer that other materials cannot? To explore these questions, the group of nearly 20 broke off into three groups, each with a balance of engineers, architects, artists, and researchers. Throughout the week in the top floor of UB/a+p, they combined their broad collective knowledge with computers, 3D printers, clay, and a range of drawing tools to experiment with clay. On the final day, the four groups presented the findings of their charettes and pin-ups. The first group, led by Adjmi, developed BIO CLAD, a panelized system that used the thermal capacities of terra-cotta to enhance the energy performance in residential applications. Terra-cotta panels—TerraClad by BVTC—would collect heat on the outside and run it through a heat exchanger, which would expel it on the inside via a series of radiant heating tubes. Group two presented “Bundled Baguette,” a set of experiments using the baguette, a basic, ceramic tube that is often used as a louver, could be aggregated in several arrangements including a parallel tumbleweed-like cluster. The third group set out to try new hybridized methods and constructions. They showed an idea that might use raw and fired clay at the same time, with the raw clay acting as a possible medium for humidity control. In another experiment from the week’s workshop, a classic, two-dimensional extrusion is made, with a 3D-printed form grafted on. This would not only be a new technique that hybridizes these tools, but it also would be the first time that a 3D printer would be used for an actual building component, and not just for prototypes or formwork. The last group was the most experimental, and they displayed a range of technical and artistic experiments, including a “mono-clay assembly,” or a complete, easy-to-produce wall module that relies only on clay bodies for performance. Another experiment used three different colors of clay to create a psychedelic extrusion. While these experiments were certainly fruitful, for the most part, they were simply conceptual ideas and the prototypes were almost entirely representational. The research—even when rooted in long-running experiments—is still a ways off. That is probably what makes this workshop so important, however. There were no expectations of the week other than to generated ideas, share research, and introduce these practitioners to the Boston Valley enterprise. The caliber of people was matched by the torrent of ideas, and it is only a positive for the future of ceramics in architecture. Future of Ceramics What is next for Buffalo? What are Boston Valley and University of Buffalo School of Architecture cooking up? To understand what is happening at the nexus of Buffalo’s industrial history, university research, state-of-the-art industry partnerships, and the specified knowledge of ceramics, it is important to start with Governor Cuomo and the Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR) Centers of Excellence. They have set up eleven of these centers around the state to foster collaboration between the academic research community and the business sector. As part of a larger initiative to make Buffalo a center for manufacturing again, they have established the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) at the University at Buffalo. There is an ongoing collaboration as part of the Buffalo Center for Excellence called SMART, or the Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies, which will join forces with the Department of Architecture and the Department of Engineering. There will be a second workshop—supported by Boston Valley—in the late summer of 2017, which will focus less on experimentation and more on advanced manufacturing. Thus the increased number of engineers in the second round, as well as a partnership with a company called BuiltWorld a leader in advanced manufacturing. “The ceramics world is not yet as advanced as far as the digital fabrication world, but that is where we are trying to push it. And Boston Valley is very supportive of this. They are probably the most important manufacturer in the US working with architectural ceramics.” Khan told AN.
"Last year's workshop was an open forum with all the participants owning their intellectual property. BVTC has the right to use that material for publications and advertisement. Moving forward to this year, intellectual property will be more focused as the teams are more deliberately constructed," Khan explained. "Hence the teams will own the intellectual property with Boston Valley and UB having the rights to publish the work unless otherwise requested by the teams. The University is much more formal. This is why industry collaboration normally happens around sponsored research grants, which have clear intellectual property rules with the University as the major beneficiary."These partnerships are certainly going to push both the school and the industry to the edges of knowledge, and there will be plenty of money to accomplish whatever they can dream up. As with any intra-disciplinary partnership, it is important to remember what the goals are: to push the boundaries of the profession—in this case, ceramics—and to provide the students and faculty with opportunities for learning. If at any time it becomes too proprietary, it could jeopardize the integrity of the research and the value added for the students, the taxpayer, and the university. So far, so good.
A luminous, arched pavilion in Ohio aims to highlight the potential of 3D fabrication techniques, and to so it's mounting a Promethean stunt. The so-called Solar Bytes Pavilion grabs sunlight during the day and radiates light when it gets dark, recreating the day's solar conditions minute-by-minute throughout the night. Brian Peters helped found DesignLabWorkshop in 2008, eventually settling in Kent, Ohio. Their latest project is the Solar Bytes Pavilion, a continuum of 94 unique modules (“bytes”) 3D printed in ceramic bricks covered with white, translucent plastic. Peters and his team then put solar-powered LEDs in each of the bytes, snapping them together in a self-supporting, arched pavilion just big enough for a few people to huddle inside. 3DPrint.com got some detail on the fabrication process:
...he used a 6-axis robot arm located at the Robotic Fabrication Lab at Kent State. A hand welding extruder, called the Mini CS, was attached to the robot arm to serve as the 3D printhead, and it extrudes plastic material in a sort of FDM-style process. The technology, provided by Hapco Inc. and called BAK/DOHLE, is employed by universities, government agencies, and concerns like the University of Michigan, Oak Ridge Laboratory, the US Department of Energy, and the University of Tennessee.The pavilion debuted at Cleveland's Ingenuity Fest.
A neoclassical museum in the Netherlands gets an iconic update and vertical expansion of ceramic and glass.The Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle, the Netherlands, houses an international collection of art and sculpture. Its venerable neoclassical edifice symbolizes the city’s rise from its Medieval foundations into the 19th century period of enlightenment. Designed in 1840 by Eduard Louis de Coninck, the building reflects the dissolution of feudalism and a dynamic, forward-thinking perspective on the future. Now, a recent expansion of the museum has shown that the city has not stopped evolving, but is in fact moving quite steadily into the 21st century. The elliptical, organically formed addition, designed by Bierman Henket Architecten, perches atop the 19th century structure, its textured ceramic facade evincing a progressive aesthetic hitherto unknown to this sleepy Dutch town. When deciding where to locate the expansion, the client was wary about disrupting the building’s classical symmetry. Besides which, the structure’s foundation was too old to withstand much tampering, and the site itself was quite constrained. As a result, the team opted to place the new space atop the existing building, housing it in an elliptical volume that would communicate its modernity without competing with the original design. “Normally in this country, it takes about eight to 10 years for approval on this kind of project, but this took only two-and-a-half years,” said Hubert-Jan Henket, founder of Bierman Henket Architecten and project architect on the museum. “In a Medieval city where everything is restricted and protected, it was liked because it changes the scope of the city and presents Zwolle as a modern city.” The elliptical addition nearly doubles the museum’s square footage with a newly reinforced structural system. A traditional and rectilinear structural steel system comprises eight vertical structural columns that thread through the existing building from new footings, and connect to a series of steel trusses that distribute the addition’s weight. The elliptical form is framed in treated soft timber with a plywood shell, insulated and sealed with a black EPDM. The shell is clad with custom designed, three-dimensional glazed ceramic tiles. The tiles feature four different ramped surface configurations that direct water off the structure and reduce streaking from polluted rain. Each angled tile is installed so that gravity pulls water off the surface, rather than settling in the crevices between the tile and the EPDM. To develop the tiles, the architects worked with Royal Tichelaar Makkum, Holland’s oldest ceramic company (it introduced blue-glazed earthenware from China to Europe in the 1700s). It took 26,000 8-inch and 29,000 4-inch square tiles to fully cover the dome’s oblong surface. Since the surface area is irregular, the designers produced 4,000 small filler pieces of ceramic that conceal the darkly colored EPDM below the gaps. The proprietary blue-white ombre glaze on the tiles was designed to resemble a cloud in the sky. “From summer to winter, and from morning to night, the sun’s reflection off the tiles is always different,” Henket explained. Although natural lighting in museums can damage certain artifacts, the clients insisted on a large window. To minimize the sun’s direct effects, the window is located on the northern side of the addition and only admits indirect light. Since solar heat gain was not an issue at the city’s northern latitude, the window is made from laminated tempered glass units that reflect enough incoming light without producing glare. Coincidently, the northerly positioning of the window also affords a stellar view of the Medieval section of the city, creating a direct visual link between this 21st century structure and the dark past from which it arose.
From floor to ceiling, and all planes in between, these interior surfacing solutions are durable and work across a variety of applications. I Frammenti Brix This micro mosaic of 2,304, 5-millimeter-square ceramic blocks on a 12- by 12-inch sheet of fine mesh provides a full range of flexibility, perfect for finishing curved or irregular walls. Available in both glossy and matte treatments, I Frammenti comes in mixed colors of sand, gray, and black; blue, white, and azure; white, gray, and black; white, sand, and black; and blue, gray, and azure. DI-NOC 3M Architectural Markets The color and texture of a naturally unwieldy material can be applied to irregular or gravity-defying surfaces with an 8-millimeter architectural vinyl film from 3M (above). The lightweight material comes in rolls for a smooth application and can be heat-stretched over corners and sharp edges for a monolithic look. It comes in more than 500 patterns and textures, thanks to a combination of digital printing and embossing techniques. Pyne Arborite A bold, graphic faux bois is rendered on high-pressure laminate for Pyne, one of three patterns in the INK series. Designed by Giona Maiarelli, the pattern is a wink to his Italian view of 1960s America, refined by years of graphic work for the likes of Milton Glaser and Harper’s Bazaar. The product comes in 4- by 8-foot panels and is available in inverse combinations of Purple and Orange. Biobased Xorel Carnegie Seven years of research went into reimagining the Xorel line of wall coverings and upholstery fabric—traditionally a petroleum-based product—in sugar cane. The U.S. government grants a bio-based label to any product with at least 25 percent biomaterial, but Xorel is composed of between 60 and 80 percent sugar. Ninety-one colors are available in three existing and three new patterns. SilentMesh GKD Metal Fabrics GKD has developed a ceiling solution from its line of metal fabrics. The multi-layered system features a lightweight aluminum honeycomb core that is stable, sound absorbing, and maintains strong architectural edges and finishing details. While large-format panels are compatible with the drop ceiling framework prevalent in North America, it also comes with a custom T-grid suspension system for clean, flush seams that conceal traditional joints. Deconstructed Patcraft Deconstructed embraces the foundation of carpet. It integrates the backing of either a modular or broadloom format into the face of the floor covering. Monochromatic thread fibers at varying heights are variegated by exposing the matrix pad for pops of color and texture. The product is material efficient, lightweight, and soft. All components are 100 percent recyclable and Cradle-to-Cradle certified. Krion Porcelanosa Aluminum trihydride and highly resistant resins form an antibacterial and durable surfacing material that is highly resistant to UV radiation, fire damage, staining, and extreme environmental exposure. It can be cut similar to wood or marble, scored for dramatic backlighting, and thermoformed for seamless corners and irregular shapes. Warm to the touch, Krion is available in nearly 50 colors and styles, including a white that boasts more than 99.8 percent purity. Maglia Pulp Studio To achieve a smoother surface than traditional woven metal materials with additional sound-blocking capabilities, Pulp Studio developed Maglia, a laminated glass sheet embedded with architectural mesh for interior applications. Low-iron glass highlights metallic details in both annealed and tempered formats while complying with Category I and II of the Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. Any of Pulp Studio’s meshes are available and custom weaves can also be specified.
While it seemed as if almost every ceramic tile manufacturer at Cersaie was debuting a new line of faux wood grain textured panels, Patricia Urquiola, Creative Director of Mutina Ceramiche & Design, embraced the artisanal tradition of hand painted 20 by 20 cm decorative tile with her new collection, Azulej. Though the nine different color-rich patterns aren't each painted by Urquiola's own hand, the laser printing has a softer, slightly weathered look, and the unbleached hydraulic cement retains its natural properties, giving the finished porcelain tiles a handcrafted feel. Azulej also includes a white, light grey and dark grey set of 27 patterns designed to be mixed and matched in any number of possible combinations. See the pictures for inspiration or create your own "compositional carpet," as Urquiola calls them.