Dust Matters: When domestic waste becomes historical narrative

Dust Matters: When domestic waste becomes historical narrative

Domestic dust has and still is a situation to be controlled in a daily basis and even worst if you live nearby a highway where lint and dust turns black because of all the road material gathering on surfaces in a matter of minutes. Ridiculous.
Browsing the world wide web, searching about materials, I stumbled upon this great British Textile Designer who graduated from Central St. Martins with a BA on Textile Design. Her name is Lucie Libotte, “a designer who uses material as a starting point for wide-ranging explorations.” Within her research she explores textiles in order to understand how these materials interact in our living environments while changing our perceptions and ideas of our surroundings, regardless of its application. As you may know, fabrics release a high percentage of the dust found in our indoor environments, added to dust brought in on shoes and clothes, added to hair and many other micro materials that get stuffed inside our homes. Her work regarding textiles, humans and environment “embrace the notion of ephemerally and mankind’s efforts to understand and recreate physical aspects found in natural environments.” Materials research in terms of waste and how this can interact with humans and the environment.

Designer Libotte, has a plan with this waste by turning it into something new, a product or a material. This is the best part. As it is a social research, she looked towards domestic waste and specifically the unwanted part, the waste we all disgust and constantly avoid. For the arrangement of her research, Libotte made a unique piece, based on waste belonging to different people’s home or environment. The process requires burning the material in a kiln, which makes this an interactive process with the waste, while thinking of sustainable actions this process projects:

“When burned in the kiln, domestic dust goes under a “purification” process: dust changes state. My process, and my will to design out of dust led my practice towards ceramic and by treating the dust inside ceramic pots in this way, I could protect the samples during their firing in the kiln, so the heat did not destroy them. When closed, those pots create a locally reduced atmosphere: they concentrate the effects of salt, metal oxides and other materials on the surface of their ware. When the pot gets to a high temperature, the organic components will start to burn away leaving the non-organic particles and start to show a chemical reaction, which creates the glaze.”

Lucie Libotte states clearly that no two sets of dust is equal to one another, is a representation of a different space, different people. Dust becomes a symbolic personification of yourself entrapped in a permanent surface.  Libotte understands her project “is not primarily the aesthetic of each object, but it is the way the object is read by people”.  The unpredictable result provides the freedom of interpretation from its user, making the ceramic a piece of art on which the process is part of the resemblance of what dust is, was and became.

What else would you do with dust? What other states can this wasted matter become if it contains other minerals such as salts, metal oxides, hair and even microscopic skin from humans? Dust here became a ceramic glaze, but could it also be part of a ceramic top, or  bathroom ceramic glaze? Interestingly, this projects provides the poetry Designers constantly seek in a material, as it is personalized to its belonging environment, the permanence of dust in a ceramic state, could be the permanence of a soul inside a celestial space as a historical narrative.

Images an comments provided by Designer Lucie Libotte herself.

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.