Caribbean culture has been marked with many of our ancestral customs, many of which we currently use, speak of and perform. Historically “taínos” used locally sourced materials for creating mostly everything around them obtained from organic sources as it was the only material available. Now, how can industrial times make something so rudimentary, a piece of art of design?
The Royal Palm or “Roystonea Borinqueña” is one of the Puerto Rico’s native plants and it’s national plant, most commonly seen surrounding our forests, near rivers and high elevations. It is also found in Florida, Mexico and parts of Central America by the scientific name of “Roystonea Regia”. This ornamental plant provides the use for thatch, timber in some countries and as a medicinal source. It’s fruit provides meals for birds and bats from which the seeds are released and serve as food source for other ground animals in the food chain.
Industrial Design as we know it, represents creativity by the use of materials with great craftiness. This time, a Puerto Rican designer by the name of Alexandre Diez-Gradin, has provided us with this interesting project with the use of the Royal Palm, giving birth to organic dishes for multiple uses such as, dinner dishes, pottery, jewelry holders, for office accessories and any other handy use you may find.
Historically, until half of the XX century, many of the houses in Puerto Rico were covered with this dried-woven material on their walls and roofs, creating an insulating layer vulnerable to the elements. The Royal Palm can measure up to 60ft (18.3m) high, allowing better dimensions upon designing.
Research upon this centuries old material has been a trigger for development to this curious designer. Extensive tests have been performed regarding different degrees of humidity, temperature control, flexibility, moulding and durability for achieving the best finish desired. Although the production process is the same, the result is always different due to particular characteristics of each plant, making every product unique.
The characteristics of this organic material uses has two waterproof exterior layers, composed by one-directional fibers. The use of these fibers provides a zero carbon footprint, as it is obtained without touching the palm just at the point where it is discarded from the plant and picked up from the ground to further use. No chemicals are used for processing and designing, for which its durability is extended through time.
About the Designer:
Alexandre Díez-Gradín, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico on November 2, 1978 and still living on the island. Since a young boy Díez-Gradín has been involved with music, painting, photography, motion pictures, architecture and design. In 1996 started Architecture studies although unfinished; made an associate degree in drafting and today holds a BA in Industrial Design from Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico. Professionally has been working the past 15 years in Architecture or Engineer reason for which he always tries to blend both disciplines into his designs. Believer of the beauty in simplicity and “less is more” follower, Díez-Gradín runs his own atelier for design and construction of products and promotes them under the name of 10Gradín, which you can find on Facebook following the same name for more information about his designs.
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