This aluminium furniture and lighting was cast inside sheets of heat-resistant fabric in a process developed by French designer Julien Carretero.
The designer wanted to create a flexible and low-cost system of production without the investment costs required by aluminium injection moulding.
An early experiment with a fireproof blanket gave him the idea to use heat-resistant fabric for the moulds, and he eventually settled on a woven fabric made of silica that can resist up to 1200°C.
Sewing a mould from pieces of fabric would be time-consuming and would also require Carretero to break open and re-sew the mould each time, so instead he decided to clamp the fabric in a steel stencil and pour the aluminium into it.
"The heat of the aluminium is not high enough to harm it," Carretero told Dezeen. "This way you can reuse it over and over."
"The Stencil proposal doesn't require any investment cost," he added. "All you need is an oven to melt aluminium, which is something you can find almost anywhere in the world in local foundries. It's even possible to melt aluminium with a simple torch – that's how I made my first try-outs."
The weave of the fabric produced a textured pattern on the final pieces that wasn't intentional but was a pleasing by-product, he said.
Carretero studied industrial design in France and England before completing a Master's at Design Academy Eindhoven, where he submitted a polyurethane foam casting process as his final project.
Other projects by Carretero we've featured on Dezeen include a collection of lamps, tables and stools made by scraping a profile into hardening plaster and a domestic fan made from industrial components.
Here's more information from the designer:
The Stencil collection is the first series of aluminium pieces of furniture ever cast in fabric. It is the result of experimental research aiming at turning the complex aluminium casting technique into a flexible and low-cost system of production. In order to do so, the number of steps required along the process is reduced to its minimum and the need for complex and expensive infrastructures is avoided.
Economic flexibility arises from the lightness of the method that encourages locally set production facilities. Technical flexibility is brought through the use of extremely basic and low-cost re-usable mould systems made from raw flat materials. High-temperature resistant fabric is clamped in a steel stencil and the fused aluminum is poured into it. Unlike usual metal casting processes, once the mould is unclamped and the piece released, it can instantly be reused for another casting. This process does not create any waste as the aluminum left overs can be melted down and the fabric reused over and over.
Materials: cast aluminium, varnished waterproof MDF, veneer
Project assistants: Sabine Roth, Lauren Tortil, Jason Page, Vincent Tarisien, Paolo Sellmayer, Anaïck Lejart, Geoffroy Gillant
Stencil was made possible thanks to the open-mindedness of the Beeldenstorm metal casting workshop (Eindhoven).
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