To prove that germs aren't all bad, Paris-based studio Bold-design came up with an activity kit that uses bacteria to turn sand from the beach into stone souvenirs (+ slideshow).
Designers William Boujon and Julien Benayoun of Bold-design created Memorabilia Factory for the Design Exquis project that invites four designers to respond to each other's objects in turn, like the parlour game where one player draws part of a character then folds the paper over and passes it along for the next player to make his contribution.
Bold-design was asked to respond to a portable machine designed by Mikael Metthey and Milan Metthey, which lets parents test sandy beaches for harmful bacteria to find the safest place for their children to play.
"Since we both ate sand when we were little and are still healthy, we immediately thought about finding a positive quality about these bacteria living in the sand," the designers explained.
The designers came up with Memorabilia Factory, a family activity kit that uses a harmless bacterium to turn sand from the beach into solid stones in the shape of local rock formations.
The kit includes a bacteria solution, a fixing agent, a tool to fix and shape the sand and three moulds, which represent Durdle Door in the UK, the dune of Pilat in France and the Kon Phi Phi islands in Thailand.
The designers worked with soil technology specialists Soletanche-Bachy and their Biocalcis process, which the firm is currently developing on a larger scale as a way of preparing sandy ground for building work, Boujon told Dezeen at the launch of Design Exquis during London Design Festival this year.
"We are talking about tons of litres of this mix with bacteria," he explained, "and after that they add the second solution, which is a kind of feeding solution. The bacteria get bigger and bigger and they create a small bridge in between the grains of sand that turns the sand into a kind of stone. It's not real stone, but it's like concrete or something. And after that they can build architecture on top of it."
Boujon and Benayoun founded Bold-design in 2007, having met at L'Ecole Supérieure d'Art et de Design in Reims, France.
We've featured lots of other projects involving sand on Dezeen, including a robotic 3D printer that builds architectural structures from grains of sand and a tractor that prints stars onto sandy beaches.
Photographs are by Bold-design except where stated.
Here's some more information from the designers:
Children (and adults) can play for hours on the beach. They create memories together by sharing time. With Memorabilia Factory, they fabricate personal and unique souvenirs using local sand, harmless bacteria and a mould inspired by native landscapes.
Memorabilia Factory is a project created on the invitation of Design Exquis, exhibition that first took place during the London Design Festival 2012. Design Exquis was a dialogue invitation on design through design, a challenge. Four designers were asked to respond in turn to the object created by a predecessor through their own design language.
Bold-design had to imagine an object after receiving a Sandpit Detector and a Beach Detector (concept design for Design Exquis). These prospective instruments are meant to analyse the quality of the sand "to pinpoint the safest environment for kids to play on the beach."
Since we both ate sand when we were little (and still healthy), we immediately thought about finding a positive quality about these bacteria living in the sand. During our project development, we found the Sporosarcina pasteurii, a bacteria that naturally calcifies sand. This phenomenon of biological calcification is also well known for building the ‘Stromatolites’ around the coast lines of Australia and New Zealand.
Above: Memorabilia Factory displayed at the Design Exquis exhibition. Photograph by Milan Metthey
With our discovery of Soletanche-Bachy and their Biocalcis® process to use the sand in construction, we found our perfect partner for this project. When we proposed the scenario to the company, the open minded management was delighted by our idea to combine nostalgia, science and technology and gave us the opportunity to work with their scientists.
William and Julien had the chance to study and experiment with the bacteria directly into the laboratory with the help of an enthusiastic biologist. It was there that the Memorabilia Factory started to get solid. By understanding the whole process, we were able to design a handy kit for people to create their own personal souvenirs. The colour palette of sand all around the world is incredibly diverse and we want you to enjoy that diversity by bringing a piece of coloured earth home with you.
Above: the Dune of Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe
Three shapes for our prototypes were inspired by iconic landscapes. We chose an English landscape because the project was first exhibited in London, a French one because we are French and Koh Phi Phi Islands because that’s an amazing place.
Above: Durdle Door in Dorset, UK
Memorabilia Factory kit content:
A mould inspired by native landscapes – different shapes are available regarding your place on Earth.
A two way tool to press the sand and engrave the souvenir to personalise it with a name or a date.
The two key components to calcify the sand: a bottle of 'Memorabilia Builders' and a bottle of 'Memorabilia Fixing Agent'.
By treating sand with biocalcification, the final product can be compared to a calcareous sandstone. The BIOCALCIS®: process was developed by Soletanche Bachy for the consolidation of soil in situ by injection.
Above: part of the Kho Phi Phi islands in Thailand
Partners and Credits
Soletanche-Bachy with the Biocalcis® process
Annette Esnault-Filet, project manager
Julie Mougeot, biologist
Creative team at bold-design:
Elise Lalique, designer
Alexis Diers, designer
Design Exquis curators:
Florian Dussopt, designer
Géraldine Vessiere, journalist