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From Below by Philipp Weber

How can an object simultaneously recount the past and forewarn the future? Berlin designer Philipp Weber reveals his From Below project at this month’s imm Cologne. After making waves with his On Colours...
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How can an object simultaneously recount the past and forewarn the future? Berlin designer Philipp Weber reveals his From Below project at this month’s imm Cologne. After making waves with his On Colours glass series in 2012, the Design Academy Eindhoven and UDK graduate continued his exploration of new material generation by experimenting with the byproducts of coal extraction and iron production. Derived from his own family history and connection to German industrial heritage, the new resulting series of vessels reveals how the combination of iron ore and coke can create solid form but perhaps more significantly, bring awareness to the serious consequences of environmental degradation.

Weber took inspiration from his great-grandfather, who worked in a bituminous coal mine at the heart of the Rhur region. Looking to both express this story and uncover the process of iron production, Weber embarked on a two-year investigation with both a craft- and science-based approach. An endless line of formal studies tested various iterative formulas until the desired results were achieved. Translating the process of iron production, the designer created a bespoke coking oven comprised of a ceramic kiln and distillation drum.

Sociologist Richard Sennett has often explained that one not only learns through mental simulation but also through physical engagement. As both an intellectual and practical endeavour, the interpretation of both a personal and collective history into the design of archetypical forms revealed another dimension; that of ecological significance. By creating work out of material that references the harmful effects of coal production and by miniaturing iron production, Weber makes a damning assessment; asking humanity to reconsider its dangerous ways.

From Below will be on view as part of the
Naked Objects Exhibition: 16 – 22 January
organised by State of Design, Berlin
Mastrichter Str. 45, Cologne

Making of the coke oven, Photo: Philipp Weber
Making of the coke oven, Photo: Philipp Weber
Making of the coke oven, Photo: Philipp Weber
Making of the coke oven, Photo: Philipp Weber
Making of the coke oven, Photo: Philipp Weber
Making of the coke oven, Photo: Philipp Weber
The coke oven in process, Photo: Philipp Weber
The coke oven in process, Photo: Philipp Weber
The coke oven in process, Photo: Philipp Weber
The coke oven in process, Photo: Philipp Weber
Formal studies, Photo: Philipp Weber
Formal studies, Photo: Philipp Weber
Formal studies, Photo: Philipp Weber
Formal studies, Photo: Philipp Weber
Process, Photo: Phillipp Weber
Process, Photo: Phillipp Weber
Process, Photo: Phillipp Weber
Process, Photo: Phillipp Weber
Process, Photo: Olga Hörner
Process, Photo: Olga Hörner
Process, Photo: Olga Hörner
Process, Photo: Olga Hörner
Process, Photo: Phillipp Weber
Process, Photo: Phillipp Weber
Process, Photo: Phillipp Weber
Process, Photo: Phillipp Weber
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