the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste
 

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste

a group of designers from the royal college of art in london have conceived the ‘red mud project’, to explore methods of transforming red mud – an industrial waste – into ceramic tableware sets and other functional forms. the team have worked closely with material scientists, ceramicists and factories across europe, to create a series of objects from the discarded material. together, joris olde rikkert, guillermo whittembury, kevin rouff and luis paco bockelmann, aim to highlight the potential of this secondary resource as an alternative to using raw virgin materials.

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

the team explored functional, structural, and decorative ceramics in an effort to show the potential and versatility

images courtesy of kevin rouff

 

 

red mud, also known as bauxite residue, is a by-product of refining bauxite ore into alumina, the precursor to aluminium. the material is made mostly of iron oxide (rust), giving it its vibrant color. it also packs an alkaline punch and is only neutralized when fired. there is a colossal amount of the industrial waste: roughly 2.5 times the amount of red mud is made for each part of aluminium, meaning in excess of 150 million tonnes is produced every year. currently, it is left unused in giant pits around the world. while these make for beautiful satellite images, the environmental costs are huge.

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

tableware sets are made using the industrial byproduct, both as the body and in the glazes

 

 

having sourced the red mud from the south of france with help from alteo – one of the first alumina refineries in the world – the designers then worked closely with ku leuven and imperial college london to explore the potential of the material both as a ceramic and as a geopolymer building material. through hundreds of tests, they developed their own clay bodies, slips, glazes, and concretes, all made with the material.

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

aluminium pieces and their red mud waste counterparts, turned into ceramics

 

 

the aesthetics of the red mud tableware series are inspired by that of a factory, with forms echoing chimneys and silos. the glazes were also developed using the same material, given the abundance of metal oxides in its composition. the results created a variety of color according to the firing temperature, ranging from a soft terracotta red, through to purple, and eventually almost black. the aim of these pieces is to make people aware of the impact of materials that are everyday taken for granted, like aluminium, and to realize the potential of their by-product counterparts. 

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

the aesthetics echo the chimneys and silos of the factory from which the material came

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

when fired, the alkalinity is neutralized

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

the metal oxides create interesting results in the glaze at higher temperatures

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

the color of the clay body changes dramatically depending on firing temperature, as seen with these structural prototypes

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

geopolymer samples made with vitrified red mud, hinting at larger scale potential

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom
comprised mostly of iron oxide, the residue has a strong reddish color

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

to process the material, the designers used what means were available to them, including their hands, feet, flour grinders, and makeshift ballmills

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

slip casting proved to be an ideal method, owing to the material’s fine particle size

the red mud project creates ceramic tableware from industrial waste designboom

slip casting moulds used to give form to the material

 

 

project info:

 

project name: ‘the red mud project

design team: joris olde rikkert, guillermo whittembury, kevin rouff, luis paco bockelmann

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynne myers | designboom

  • Excellent idea …as long as they do not contaminate consumables.

    Jimmy

    Jimmy Xi says:
  • This idea is a complete steal of Agne Kucerenkaite’s project ‘Ignorance is bliss’. They should be ashamed of themselves. There is ‘steal like an artist’ but that’s means taking something and elevating it to new grounds. This is just copying. Pathetic.

    Yo Ming says:
  • A whole team of designer and RCA who decided to just steal Agne Kucerenkaite’s concept, research and topic. Not inspired or omaged. Just a direct steal. Good work guys, you should be proud of yourselves.

    Cefin rhouph says:
  • Wonderful project and a beautiful collection of tableware. I think this is nothing like stealing Agne Kucerenkaite’s work. Agnes work looked at repurposing waste from the metal extraction industry as pigment to colour and glaze ceramics, this project looks at it as both the ceramic medium and what other material potential the waste may have. Just because one person has thought to upscale a specific waste product doesn’t mean that it should be off the table for everyone else. The more people exploring issues like this the better I think. There is a lot of waste out there and any idea that starts making a positive impact on it should be championed not denigrated solely because it plays with similar ideas or even the same ideas of another persons.

    steven says:

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