Four MA students studying at the Royal College of Art have taken toxic red mud — a byproduct of aluminium production — and constructed a series of terracotta-coloured ceramics. Designed by MA Innovation Design Engineering students Guillermo Whittembury, Joris Olde-Rikkert, Kevin Rouff and Luis Paco Bockelmann, the ceramic series called ‘From Wasteland to Living Room’ reinvents the value of toxic waste by recycling it into a series of sustainable objects.
Alumina, also called aluminium oxide, is constructed from raw aluminium ore and is the basis for modern gadgets and architectural objects such as windows and door frames. When the raw aluminium ore is refined, a toxic red sludge is produced which usually gets discarded into pits in the ground.
Utilizing the red mud for the ceramic clay and glaze, the RCA designers have constructed a tableware set which includes bowls, cups and teapots; challenging the stigma surrounding the term ‘waste’ whilst highlighting the problematic outcome of aluminium production. The metal oxides within the red mud creates a spectrum of warm-coloured objects, whilst using an abundant waste material that previously, designers had little use of.
By Anna Marks