Ceramic waste


Made in

Circular 215 Glaze 16 Recyclable 115 Ceramic waste 3 Glass 3 Granite 2 Sand 5

Ceramic waste

Photos: Cooper Siegel, George Perez

Circular Ceramics

Designer Cooper Siegel is interested in the life span of an object. He is thinking about the materials that make up that object and the cycles they live through. Through small batch collections of found, industrial, or recycled materials, he is passing through cycles that build on themselves. On a small scale, the material collections are transformed over and over again to create new unforeseen objects.

Zooming out, we can consider the finite amount of material on the planet, the creation of new objects will soon become dependent on the cannibalisation and valorisation of old objects. In both timescales, infinite combinations and outcomes exceed a single object. This relationship is reflexive. An object comes apart and reforms, but always with the potential for more change. The object is representative of the Earth’s cycles. It’s endlessness. What can be further transformed?

When working with materials that lack internal structure while being subjected to the stress of a kiln, it is necessary to apply a malleable external structure that maintains the object's form. Objects are packed in containers of support materials like sand, granite and kaolin and fired to temperature. The packing materials are reused and hold the memory of each previous firing. Materials are chosen for their specific characteristics and fulfil certain roles when needed.

Recently, Siegel was struggling with an object: firing material, collapsing form, adding material, and firing again. At some point in this process, he stopped having to add material and realised that the once rigid and broken object was now a self-contained system. The object had reached an equilibrium in which there was a diversity of materials that allowed for sustainability within the object. The object was now mimicking a granite rock, which has the ability to come apart and go back together, depending on the temperature it is heated to. This is the sort of sustainability that comes from within. Material roles become fluid, and change based on the situation they are put in. This way of thinking specifically targets waste that is toxic to the environment in its raw state and utilises its material diversity. The act of making becomes a way of consuming waste and expanding what is possible.

The creation of material through the use of a ceramic kiln is an irreversible transformation that mimics natural processes on a much faster time scale. The ceramic kiln allows the user to collapse time in order to make a usable 'product'. This makes the materiality of the objects integral to understanding these life spans, their grounding, and their sustainability through time. Cooper Siegel is hacking into the DNA of the discipline in hopes of finding infinite recyclability.

Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.


Ceramic materials (clay/glaze), sand, granite, glass, feldspar, quartz, and numerous other geological materials