Blocks: Open Craft
Jurrijn Huffenreuter is a recent design graduate from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. As part of his graduation he developed Blocks.
Traditionally, the production of ceramics is a very rigid system: one mold is used to produce one product. Blocks is a modular plaster mold system which can produce an infinite amount of ceramic products.
Blocks shows a new direction for craft , which the designer calls “Open Craft”. The production technique has the advantages of 3D printing, but then applied to a craft technique. It allows customisation, fast production of unique pieces and supplies flexibility to the ceramic production process.
The goal of Blocks is to make craft accesible for people without acquiring all relevant skills. Expertise and skills of ceramics are not required when working with this molding system. The costly and time consuming phases of the traditional ceramic production like model making and mold making can be left out. This way the ceramic craft is extremely accesible.
The project brings the user into the manufacturing process. It intends to provide the tools for involved consumers, who want to participate in the production of their objects. This way the consumer has influence again in the production of the products in their own environment.
Block by block, layer by layer a mold can be constructed on the base surface. During the construction of the mold, the outlines of the end product are designed. The clay slip is poured into the mold. When the excess slip is removed, the blocks can be removed one at a time and what remains is the finished product.
The basic blocks of the system consist out of variations on cubes of four by four centimeters. The corner blocks (blocks from which a quarter of a circle, triangle, or square is removed) give detail to the rough pixel shapes. The functional blocks, such as different spouts or a logo, bring the products directly to product scale.
Unlike normal ceramic production, Blocks can be used as a tool to design objects with different functions in various forms. To illustrate the different possibilities in function the designer created a collection of Blocks products consisting out of a clock, jug, a bowl, lamp, two pots, a vase and a tea set. The tea set includes a teapot, cups, a creamer and a sugar pot.
The black ceramic cups show the different possibilities in the use of a corner block from which a quarter of a circle is removed. By placing it differently during the construction of a mold the cup changes in function and in use. A cup is the most simple product to produce with the molding system. When the change in placement of blocks is applied to a more complex shape the amount of outcomes is much bigger.
The form language of the products is a clear result of the mold system. Every product is a reproducible unique piece. The imperfections of the mold parts remain visible in the finished product. This makes it a clear, readable product, showing the moment of creation. If the creator would like to make an object again he only has to stack the blocks around the object to recreate the mold.
To involve the user in the manufacturing process and to make the technique widely available for people who don’t have the Blocks tools, the designer created a website. The website offers the possibility to construct a mold digitally and design a product. Depending on the demands of the creator, the design can be adjusted.