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Superusing ceramic tiles

Material innovation can sometimes be as simple as finding a new use for existing material, in particular a material that has been rejected because of a minor error. These stools made using roof tiles are a great case in point.

Designer Tsuyoshi Hayashi used the existing curve and smooth texture of the roofing tiles and incorporated them in a modular wooden construction. The wood and ceramic stools that are made in this way are a great example of how to reuse common materials – to powerful effect.

His ‘Kawara’ bench makes use of discarded Japanese tiles. By reusing and upcycling these tiles into stools, the designer makes a point about reuse, as well as making a strong design statement.

In Japan, up to 5% of tile production ends up being disposed of in landfills or ground up for use in road construction. However, this ‘waste’ still has all sorts of value, such as bright colours, texture, durability and a smooth curve, which invites people to sit on the tile. By cutting away the damaged part of the tile and mounting it onto the wooden frame, waste becomes useful again.

A problem inherent to ceramics is that production is irreversible. Once a tile has been fired in the oven, it is set. So defects in production are especially costly to manufacturers. This is particularly true in Japan, where tiles are fired at 1200°C, rather than the 800°C used in Europe. In addition these tiles, from the Kawara region in Japan, are smoked, giving each one an aged look.

Here, the age, or lack of it, is not the issue. Kawara Bench is intended to help change our way of looking at waste. The conclusion is, of course, that even discarded matter can be transformed to useful material, simply and effectively.