The ExCincere collection is the result of more than three years of research and experimentation. An exploration of the application of the naturally-occurring and self-generating material gave birth to a collection of volcanic-ash-glazed tiles—reminding us of the dynamic landscape from which they come.
The relationship between the human and the volcano; one of the most visceral symbols for the untameable force of nature, is ridden with allegory. And so this project also became a battle of wills between man and volcano. Although Volcanic ash and basalt rock may appear inert, their high metal oxide content makes them complex and unpredictable to work with. Three years of exploding, imploding, cracking and caving were endured before ExCinere’s careful balance of porcelain body, ash glazes, firing temperature and method was achieved.
The use of volcanic matter in architecture has a long and rich history. From the Bronze age Jardines of Pantelleria; strong protective walls built around delicate fruit trees in raw volcanic rock, to Roman concrete; a material including pulverised lava rock added for durability, to César Manrique’s evocative Lanzarote architecture of the 1960’s which so seamlessly and sympathetically integrates into its surrounding volcanic landscape. ExCinere is a new take on the tradition of volcanic lava as building material and a manifest of the enduring attraction between humans and the impossible force of nature.
Amsterdam-based design studio Formafantasma have been researching the potential of volcanic lava as a design material since 2010. Andrea Trimarchi, one of the two founders of Formafantasma, grew up in Sicily against the dramatic backdrop of Mount Etna. Over time, Trimarchi and partner Simone Farresin have observed the detrimental impact of mass-tourism on both the landscape and culture of Sicily. Their 2014 project, De Natura Fossilium, addressed this by thoroughly investigating the culture of lava in the Mount Etna and Stromboli regions of Italy and culminating in a collection of expertly-crafted glass, basalt and textile works.
When Formafantasma visited the region of Mount Etna they were fascinated by the changing landscape from day to day due to constant eruptions. They were compelled by the idea of nature acting like a miner, expelling minerals and valuable materials without human intervention.
The ExCinere project was conceived as a means to further explore the application of this most fascinating naturally-occurring, self-generating, and abundant material. Dzek and Formafantasma have collaborated to produce a useful architectural product that makes full use of volcanic lava’s material properties.
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