Congrats to James Walsh Studio for winning the 2020 Australian Furniture Design Award with his entry Anthropic Bench.
The Anthropic Bench – Made from locally sourced soil and recycled glass, combined in a process that dates back to 5000 BC.
The objective of this project was to explore the rammed earth process and to see how recycled materials could be added without the loss of its structural properties.
Compacted by hand, layer by layer into a two part mould, the resulting conical legs are designed to allow the timber bench top to effortlessly nest in place, with the help of gravity alone.
Made to order, this object and the tones in which are produced throughout the rammed earth legs are dictated by the location in which the soil is sourced from and the minerals that are found within.
Over the course of a month, various combinations of glass particle sizes, soil mixtures and stabilisers were explored to develop a material that could compete with the current standard of rammed earth.
This is typically a 90% mixture of soil and a 10% addition of stabiliser.
Through my research I found that today the stabiliser is typically cement, however traditionally animals blood was used (so interesting!). Throughout my experiments I came across a stable combination of materials which includes a 10% addition of glass particles, 10% stabiliser and 80% of soil.
Having produced custom formwork for this design using a CNC cut mould, the Anthropic Bench relies entirely on gravity and the designed taper, which allows the solid bench top to sit in place without the need for fasteners or adhesive.
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.