Project Design: Hseng Tai Ja Reng Lintner, Jakub Jilek, Karin Hedlund, Marcus Abrahamson
Type: Design Research
Description: Digital design and fabrication | Casting
Location: Chalmers, Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: October 1 - 25 2012
Supervisors: Daniel Norell, Stefan Svedberg
Institution: Chalmers University of Technology

The project is part of a seminar that examined digitally augmented ways of casting. The objective was to design an object that balanced the geometric control imposed by the mold with the fluid behavior of the casting material. Our project combined transparent and opaque material solutions to create voids and openings and range of surface articulations.

In terms of material culture we were interested in creating a contradiction between the inherent properties of a material and the appearance or experience of that particular material. We chose to work with plaster, a traditional material that historically has been associated with heavyweight construction and mass. We contrasted that association with weight against the designed lightness of a softly billowing surface. Another contrast that we considered was that between a smooth surface and a porous one – something that a cast material like concrete or plaster is able to target.

Our initial investigations targeted the interlocking of two materials in a mold. We used CNC-milling and vacuum forming to fabricate open plastic molds. Aerogel, a material made from nano-particles normally used for super insulation, was used to repel the water-soluble plaster during the curing process. We then began exploring ways in which we could use a smooth silicone mold in combination with aerogel granules to attain a sense of porosity and eventual perforation to create openings. The low mass of the aerogel in combination with its water repellant quality made the granules fall right out of the mold after curing of the liquid, leaving a delicate imprint of the crystals behind.

A series of composite drawings documented the balance between mold geometry and eroded casting material.