In a collaboration between the Slovenian design collective Mashoni, the Italian manufacturer of 3D printers Wasp, the digital manufacturing lab Noumena from Barcelona, Slovenian local clay experts and architects, we developed the CLayer project.
While this project could be described from the product perspective as an eﬀort to design an urban wall that reduces air pollution by using a local clay material, digital design, and structural 3D printing, it is more than that.
The CLayer project is an experiment in engaging local actors in overcoming local urgency. In case of air pollution, we engaged local resources, local architects, designers, clay experts, and —clay. We believe, if we seek to overcome air pollution, we first must eliminate those that impact most, energy consumption, mass production and long-distance transport. Based on the glocalization approach, we worked with local resources, local narratives, local experts, but using globally developed technology, tools, and expertise.
Worth Partnership Project provided just the right conditions to demonstrate a co- development of a design that aesthetically references traditional architectural motive while providing a very contemporary look, especially when used in an urban environment.
We believe that urgency and community driven innovation represent a relevant alternative to the market driven eﬀorts, that struggle to overcome today’s environmental, societal, and economic challenges.
The main idea emerged through reading of Bruno Latour’s books, Down to Earth and Becoming Gaia, that among others rethink new ecological narratives, where the nature is no longer an inert background from which resources are extracted for human activities; rather, it has reclaimed its role as an active agent in the fate of the planet. In such context, we found the qualities of the local earthenware for “breathing” the polluted air, the same way microbiome in the soil breaths together with the forest.
As we are the designers working with local narratives, we wanted to experiment with the earth as an innovative material, especially in combination with emerging technologies of 3D printing.
The birth of the project
Project was born out of the capacities of core partners. Design approach that appreciates qualities of local materials and traditional forms, technological partner with expertise in clay 3D printing and newly published catalogue of Slovenian clays. All partners were eager to experiment, and not only to learn from the experience, but also to develop a methodological case that would benefit not only the market but also communities in urgencies.
The creative process
Main contribution to the creative process were lifetime experiences and mastery of involved partners. With such capacities we exchanged experiences, discussed benefits of clay as a local material, stories of developing the nationwide catalogue of clays, etc. As designers we are aware that crucial part of the process is experimentation with the material—including dirty hands-on digging of a clay at a riverbank.
No one individually has a capacity to develop project as we did as a group. Furthermore, our point of departure was a community driven innovation that benefits local communities and not ourselves. On such foundations, the rest is a pure joy.
Based on a proof of a concept, that demonstrated benefits and limitations of a such approach, we aim to find a concrete local community with which we would build the first application. So, we will approach some municipalities with air-pollution problems and develop first onsite pilot case.
You are never alone. There are always mutual interests, you just need to share your ideas and discuss opportunities. Through some work, mutual satisfaction is more than just your own.