Studio ThusThat uses red mud from the South of France, in the region where historically industrialization of aluminium first began (hence the naming of the ore, "Bauxite", due to its discovery in the Baux-de-Provence). This also means it is historically the place where red mud as a material was first created, so there's a bit of history in each piece.
STUDIO THUSTHAT - DESIGNING AND CREATING WITH UNCOMMON MATERIALS
We rarely question where our materials come from, nor what wastes were left in their wake. Aluminium for instance, is ubiquitous to our world and is touted as a material of the future, yet behind it are vast landscapes of industrial waste that are invisible to the public eye. Studio ThusThat combined scientific research with traditional methods to transform Red Mud - a byproduct of the aluminum industry - into a range of vases. Making use of the high oxide content, the glazes were also made with the material to showcase its aesthetic value. The ceramic vases sit inside a foot made from solid aluminium, hinting towards the inherent relationship of the two materials.
Bauxite residue, aka “red mud”, is a byproduct of refining bauxite ore into alumina, the precursor to aluminium. It is composed primarily of metal oxides which lend the material a vibrant red color. This waste packs an alkaline punch, and is difficult to neutralize. And there’s a lot of it; for every part of aluminium made, up to 2.5 times that amount of red mud is created, totalling to over 150 million tonnes of red mud produced annually. The residue is currently left in giant hazardous disposal sites visible from space.
“We hope to show the muddier yet equally beautiful counterpart to aluminium, a material we usually see as immaculate,” notes Kevin Rouff, one of the studio’s members. The material acts as a reminder that this sterile and shiny metal originally came from the earth, and that there are always consequences to the process of extraction. “Inevitable consequences, sure, but not dead ends,” Rouff explains. “These wastelands can also be seen as a space of abundant resources.”
The designers explain that the point of the project was not to propose a silver bullet solution that would remove all the red mud from the land – a gargantuan task that has been researched for decades - but rather to create a new narrative for a continuous “waste” whose many proven methods of safe reuse are curbed by a negative image. The obscured nature of the industrial process, its brute mechanisms, and its scale all run in opposition to the warmth, fragility, and finesse of ceramics. “Material culture takes time to shft,” explains Paco Boeckelmann, another member of the studio. “We wanted to surprise people with what the material could do, and show it in an unexpected way.”
Each vase is made to order. Given variations in process and materials, changes in texture, color and form can also be expected.
Dimensions including aluminum base:
Small: 20.5cm x 8cm / appx 6.25"h x 5"dia
Medium: 15.5cm x 15.5cm / appx 6.25"h x 6.25"dia
Tall: 29cm x 12.5cm / appx 11.5"h x 5"dia
Care and cleaning:
To retain the quality of your piece and ensure longevity, hand-washing with a non abrasive cloth or sponge in warm soapy water is recommended. Avoid placing in extreme hot or cold environments, as this could cause thermal shock and result in fragility and cracking and/or breakage.
How did we curate this product?
While there’s no universal standard for sustainable manufacturing, Living Deep is committed to supporting brands, makers and manufacturers that are on a ‘deep green’ path, making progress towards positive environmental and social benefit. As we consider how this product impacts our health and the health of all species, you can learn more about how we evaluate products, or keep reading below for our curation of this specific product...
Where does the product come from?
What is it made of?
Bauxite Residue, aka Red Mud, and aluminum. Studio ThusThat uses Red Mud, that is a byproduct of the aluminum industry, to create the structure of the vase as well as the glaze.
Where does it go at the end of its life?
Broken or damaged ceramics may be recycled for a wide variety of projects, they can be used in art projects and gravel pathways. Although it is difficult to find recyclers who accept ceramics, when these products are ground up, they can be incorporated in tiles or new dishes.
The materials in our everyday lives are much more complex than they initially seem. Each one has myriad places of origin, complex processes, and many different uses that make up its narrative. And every material comes at a cost; vast quantities of byproducts and wastes are left in its wake before it ever reaches your hands. Amsterdam based Studio ThusThat aims to overturn how we understand our material world by uncovering their hidden backstories, digging into their origins, and exploring that which was left behind as waste.
Composed of recent graduates from the Royal College of Art in London, the team has spent much of their time exploring industrial wastes from the mining and metallurgical sectors in a series of projects they have called From Wasteland to Living Room. For ThusThat, these industrial wastelands are abundant sources of raw material waiting to be transformed into interior objects and architectural components.
The aim is not to offer solutions to problems, but rather to uncover untold realities of a material, while maintaining a sense of optimism. “Ultimately, we try to balance between revealing a hidden story and telling a new one through the objects we make. It’s as much about critiquing, as it is about suggesting a possible alternative.”