‘Wreck’ experiments with reclaimed wasted daily-use ceramics

Design studio Bentu used waste daily-use ceramics in experimental furniture and an artistic installation during the Shenzhen Design Week.

The city of Chaozhou in China produces about 70 per cent of the global daily-use ceramics. The process of globalisation and modernisation breaks down the traditional social order, the neat and orderly planned old city disappears, as well as traditional rural culture.

In addition, the process of globalisation stimulates the traditional ceramic industry, which is expanding abnormally. The demand stimulates the production, providing jobs and attracting work immigrants. The manufacturing industry moves in the area with low labour cost, and Chaozhou becomes the OEM (original equipment manufacture) for Western enterprises. This increases the amounts of waste. The area of Chaozhou reflects the uneven global economic development, in which ceramics and other types of waste are being dumped on the land, despite the country’s ban on imported waste.

To recycle ceramics, the waste is smashed and ground into powder, which is then used as raw material for porcelain production, though not in large quantities. With Wreck, studio Bentu aims to change the way porcelain aggregate is used, improving the utilisation of ceramic waste. The waste porcelain is smashed and turned into furniture, which still clearly shows the ceramic pieces.

An important part of the experiment was a collaboration with the Shenzhen Design Week (20-30 April 2018). During this event the experimental furniture, as well as a 7-metre long art installation was exhibited. The art installation consisted of a table filled with ceramic waste that was collected from Chaozhou’s daily use ceramic factories. With a video, the audience was introduced to the world’s largest ceramic industry as well as the wrecked culture and decorum behind the capacity and commercial value.

Photos: Bentu