WRECK – Bentu Design experiments with wasted ceramics
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Bentu Design’s latest exhibition, “WRECK – Regeneration Experiment of Wasted Daily-use Ceramics from Chaozhou, China,” continues the studio’s mission to highlight the amount of waste produced by the ceramics industry.
Globalisation and the demand for ceramics have driven a wave of new factories in Chaozhou in eastern China, and it is now the biggest producer of ceramics in the world, creating around 70 per cent of ceramic commodities used globally. While this creates jobs and opportunity, it also accelerates waste and consequently the demand for recycling plants.
The traditional means of recycling ceramics has entailed smashing the waste and putting it back into the raw materials for ceramic production. However, not much of the waste powder can be reused in production because of the viscosity which pottery clay requires. Unable to keep up with demand for smashing the waste, recycling plants have become mountains of unusable fragments.
This provided Bentu Design with inspiration and material for its WRECK collection and exhibition, for which Bentu Design teamed with up Shenzhen Design Week.
Instead of using disintegrated material, the studio used fragments and shards to create a collection of furniture. This method not only accelerates the recycling speed and utilisation of waste, but Bentu hopes it will draw attention to the value that can be found in the waste.
The exhibition comprised experimental furniture pieces, such as tables and lamps, as well as a 7-metre-long artistic installation stacked with ceramic waste. The furniture is made with ceramic fragments of bowls, cups and even Buddha statues. Not completely crushed, these shards are visible in the surface of the final products, and a subtle colour is applied to complement the visible ceramics.
Bentu created a video as an introduction to the exhibition, showing the audience the extent of the waste, and drawing attention to the disintegration of culture in Chaozhou due to the prolific globalisation of ceramic production in the region.
Image source: Bentu Design