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Solidification of Foam

Natural materials are usually modified for better performance. In this work, I reverse this process by letting nature modify human-made materials and the result is, therefore, beyond the ordinary experience of natural materials.

My Master thesis on the “Solidification of Foam” examines the activity of microorganisms invisible to the naked eye. Although cultures of microorganisms are all around us and in us, we are hard put to imagine what they look like and what they do. The unique mixture of microorganisms and porcelain called “fermented porcelain” highlights their activity in a lasting, tangible material because the yeast cultures in porcelain are free to express their natural creativity and can grow into foamy patterns. Moreover, porcelain preserves this vivid activity by forming an image of this process in solid material.

Microorganism growth and activity enable changes in the general appearance of porcelain and – especially – its porosity. This allows us to capture the natural behaviour of the yeast, and fermented porcelain then portrays the visual language of the microorganisms’ natural processes. However, fermented porcelain does not aim to copy the visual beauty of nature, but rather lets nature surpass the porcelain handcrafting. Here, therefore, I am aiming to decentralize human skills and determine as a designer how best we can implement nature in the creative process. My project aims to raise awareness of the microorganisms which surround us, to experiment with their ability to form materials and to bring new meaning to materials, because they are most important in our life. Materials forever surround and influence us, and it greatly matters in which environment we live because what we see, hear, touch, and smell affects our mental and physical state. Moreover, fermented porcelain translates the presence and power of microorganisms by highlighting their ability to create.

Author: Helena Ťapajnová Master Studio Design, Institute Integrative Design, Master thesis, 2019