Tektites: ceramics made from foam

If you think about materials to use for the fabrication of tableware, foam would probably not make the list. Yet that is the exact material that Studio Furthermore, founded by designers Marina Dragomirova and Iain Howlett, used for their Tektites series of ceramic pieces.

The studio wanted to imitate ceramic foam, which is used in applications such as mirror mountings on space telescopes, as well as the heat shielding that protected NASA’s space shuttles when they had to go through the Earth’s atmosphere. More common uses are acoustic and thermal isolation.

After experimenting with different kinds of clay such as stoneware, porcelain and recipes containing reactive alumina, sodium feldspar and ball clay, they settled for parian. Parian is a variant of bisque porcelain that is similar in appearance to the fine textured parian marble found in the mountains to the north of the Aegean island of Paros. This material they used to inject various kinds of open celled foams to see how they would behave. After that, the foams were fired at 1200 degrees Celsius (2200 degrees Fahrenheit), where the foam sizzled away, leaving only the parian in the same shape as the foam was, holes and all.

According to the designers, the pieces resemble meteorites. They feel warm, hard and stone-like to the touch, yet they are nearly weightless. Tektites is the first collection of foam ceramics by Studio Furthermore, so there may be more in the future. However, these ceramics do not seem to be very practical to use, as the holes, which are also on the inside with most of the ceramics, must be impossible to clean. Just hope that it is not your turn to do the dishes.

Photos: Studio Furthermore