Less CPP N2: Porcelain vs Lava Lights
gt2P Wednesday 06 Aug 2014

Porcelain vs Lava is a series of wall lights and chandeliers with LED lighting, controlled by stroking the lava in their centres. The lava acts like a dimmer switch, altering an electrostatic field created by a sensor that prompts a microcontroller to turn the light on and off.

The designers, great things to People (or gt2P) created the lights using an updated version of their Catenary Pottery Printer (CPP), a machine that mixes analog numerical control with traditional material and techniques in one real-time process. For their lights, gt2P took into account variables such as amount of porcelain layers, translucency, reinforcement with lava and baking temperature, achieving inimitable shapes with contrasting textures for dramatic visual expression.

gt2P cast over fabric to determine the exterior shape of the lights. The number of times this process is done determines the thickness of the pieces, so they were able to control the translucency of their porcelain with the number of layers added. They then needed to strengthen the anchor point where the LED light should be fixed, without affecting the translucency or augmenting the thickness of the piece. For this the designers decided to use lava.  

While working on the lights, gt2P also happened to be testing Chilean volcanic lava, with the goal of controlling the temperature parameters that enable a viscous state of the lava. Theoretically volcanic stones should start to melt at 800°C, but the stones they collected from Chaiten and Villarrica volcanoes started to melt at 1260°C, achieving a workable viscosity (controllable) at 1300°C, coinciding with the baking temperature of the porcelain.

The designers put the porcelain and lava in the oven together and found that the lava drained slowly over the solid piece of porcelain. Thanks to the slow cooling process, it contracted gradually without breaking the porcelain, achieving a collaborative material. This was perfect for use with the CPP.

gt2P were able to generate very slim and reinforced porcelain pieces, establishing a contrast between opacity in the hanging points and translucency over the edges where the light comes through. The resulting wall mounted luminaires and mockup chandelier collections were exhibited during the New York Design Week and will also be part of the New Territories Lab exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York this November.

designer biog


Great things to people (gt2P) is a Chilean studio in a continuous process of research and experimentation in production, technical, functional and aesthetic terms always in search of new proposals.

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