Going With the Flow

There is an abundance of freely available materials worldwide that end up in the landfill before their full potential is explored. ‘Going with With Flow’ is a series by Stefano Santilli that explores how found materials can influence creative decisions and how discarded objects can be appropriated as a strategy for co-design.

Santilli’s initial material source was the roadside verge, where it is possible to find car crash polymers and discarded aluminium drinks cans. The first experiments were to shred and reform ABS and Polycarbonate, taking advantage of the polymers capacity to flow into hand made injection molding presses – converting problematic waste into precious furniture detailing. Using a crucible furnace, the aluminium was hand cast into joining wedges. Interestingly, this process caused each form to be unique and circumvented aesthetic control as a designer.

From this point, he decided to explore the idea of co-design, ‘going with the flow’ of materials and taking advantage of the design input that had already been applied to objects. ABS wing mirror covers are a typical roadside find and curiously comparable with pottery fragments of classical archaeology – each with markings that can be decoded to identify date and place of origin. Through a process of 3D scanning and simplifying the resultant complex polygonal geometry towards a model that could be unwrapped, he was able to CNC mill and recreate the forms as wooden vessels.

Each panel was steam folded and riveted together using scraps of found polymer as a hybrid construction of digital and manual techniques. This reflected both the intelligence of the digital tools to process data and, in another sense, the dumbness of computer logic.

A second source has been the shingle beach at Brighton, where typical material finds are polymer waste left by holidaymakers and eroded timber from sea defences. Using similar digital processes and assembly with polymer rivets, the design of the vessel forms is expanded to include their acoustic potential by incorporating soundscapes that were recorded on location – as an additional resource that is freely available.