Volcanic ash

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Glaze 16 Porcelain 4

Volcanic ash

Photos: Nick Ballon, Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti, Luisa Zanzani


ExCinere is a refined collection of volcanic ash-glazed tiles developed in collaboration with nature-led architectural products producer Dzek and research-based design studio Formafantasma.

Dzek and Formafantasma worked with scientists, volcanologists and ceramic glaze experts to successfully refine volcanic ash, a non-extracted resource that is naturally occurring, self-generating and abundant, into an architectural tile system.

Formafantasma has been researching the potential of volcanic lava as a design material since 2010. Andrea Trimarchi, one of the two founders, grew up in Sicily against the dramatic backdrop of Mount Etna. Over time, Trimarchi and design partner Simone Farresin have observed the detrimental impact of mass tourism on both the landscape and the culture of Sicily. Their 2014 project, De Natura Fossilium, addressed this by thoroughly investigating the culture of lava in the Mount Etna and Stromboli regions of Italy and culminating in a collection of expertly-crafted glass, basalt and textile works.

The ExCinere project was conceived as a means to further explore the application of this most fascinating material. Formafantasma was compelled by the idea of nature acting like a miner, expelling minerals and valuable materials without human intervention.

Although Volcanic ash and basalt rock may appear inert, their high metal oxide content makes them complex and unpredictable to work with. Three years of exploding, imploding, cracking and caving were endured before ExCinere’s careful balance of porcelain body, ash glazes, firing temperature and method was achieved.

ExCinere is a new take on a long tradition of ingenious applications of volcanic matter in architecture. From the Bronze Age Jardines of Pantelleria site. A strong protective wall built around delicate fruit trees in raw volcanic rock, to Roman concrete; a material of pulverised lava rock added for durability, to César Manrique’s evocative Lanzarote architecture of the 1960s which so seamlessly and sympathetically integrates into the surrounding volcanic landscape.

The tiles are available in two sizes and four volcanic glazes that range in tone from light caramel to dark chocolate. ExCinere serves as a tool to create custom patterns or monochromatics that provide natural texture and depth to everyday living and working spaces.

The name ExCinere is a play on the Latin ex cinere, which means ‘from ash’.

Additional information

The volcanic-ash glazes are created by mixing varying quantities, particle sizes and densities of volcanic matter. They are applied through a spray application onto a fully vitrified gris porcelain body suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

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


Volcanic ash glazes, gris porcelain body