Le Corbusier described, that ‘the luxury object is well-made, neat and clean, pure and healthy, and its bareness reveals the quality of its manufacture’.
The perception of what is luxury and what is valuable is constantly changing within use of materials and processes and it depends on personal interpretation and feelings often determined by culture.
The Studio Swine in their projects such as: Hair Highway, Sea Chair or Sao Paulo Collection reveals that often the materials considered as a not valuable, can turn out to be a great source of creating luxury products. Sometimes It is a simple method, an innovative process of making things, which allow the designers to fully explore the material potential.
The Hair Highway concept refers to china’s economy. According to the designers investigation, the country is both the biggest exporter of human hair and the largest importer of tropical hardwood. Using all of the findings Studio Swine, created composite material, merging human hair with the natural resin. Presenting hair as a ‘one of the few natural resources which increases along with the world’s population’. This way they have achieved sustainable alternative and a luxury looking products, being a reminiscent of some of the most precious materials in the world such as horn, tortoiseshell or exotic hardwoods.
The designers followed the material revealing the people who sell-through it to hair markets, than factories in the Shandong, province of China. The process of their research and making, is beautifully presented on this video. It is the journey of the material.
For me, this is a fantastic example of materials exploration and the way how they can relate to each other. The result is an extraordinary. It challenges people’s perception and evokes different emotions which we have for hair. I have grown up in the culture where having a human hair on a plate is something unacceptable and disgusting. So I keep asking myself what if my favourite dish was served on a plate made of this component? Would it be still enjoyable experience? I think that my rooted convictions will predetermine my overall feeling. Despite that I still love this idea.
I have also looked into a different projects by the same designer called the Sao Paulo Collection and the Sea Chair.
The first one was created in a collaboration with Heineken company. As the Sao Paulo is accumulating and processing more cans than anywhere else in the world and is known as the Aluminium Capital, the designers have decided to transform this material from the city streets. Exploring its full potential through sand casting technique.
The second project, the Sea Chair reuses marine plastic which is collected from our oceans, then melted down on a shipboard and transformed into a selling product – a beautiful stool. The idea is to engage people with sustainability. Everyone can contribute towards this project by following the manual DIY Sea Chair instruction.
The Studio Swine notion is research-led design, the product of the region, its culture and resources, which is developed through material exploration, innovation and creating new sustainable systems.