Beautiful building materials developed from the waste residue of our modern human lifestyles.
+ Creator | Agne Kucerenkaite
+ Country | The Netherlands
+ Colour | Iron Ore, industrial iron waste
+ Challenge | Can we give a new identity to ‘valueless’ toxic metal waste, replacing industrially produced pigments created from the same extracted metals?
'Ignorance is Bliss' colour research
“One would not choose to create pollution in our current era, but as a practical matter, there is an abundance of waste material available for experimentation at no or little cost.” Agne Kucerenkaite
The Origin of Colour | Agne Kucerenkaite
Agne Kucerenkaite is a material designer working to transform rejected, waste Earth materials into valuable new products. Her experimental design process is led by in-depth research and a hands-on maker approach. Agne is obsessed with an ongoing investigation of how we can reimagine the bi-products and residue of our modern human era. From unattractive industrial waste processes, and toxic waste such as drinking water treatment sludge. We featured Agne’s work in our Issue 26 macro colour story, RED OCHRE.
Luminary Issue 26 X Agne
“Forward-thinking architects and surface designers are diving deep into the land, and using earth, clay and soil, alongside any old building debris, to manufacture the building blocks of tomorrows housing. Layers of history, and elements from deep within the landscape, are amalgamated into highly sophisticated and beautiful new surfaces.” Anna Starmer, Issue 26 Luminary
'Ignorance is Bliss' colour research
Ignorance is Bliss | Industrial Waste
In addition to the rubbish we all produce in our households, a huge proportion of landfill waste comes from industry and manufacturing processes. Across the globe we are managing millions of tons of industrial waste at record levels, from masonry and concrete, metal, oil and solvents, to chemicals, lumber and even food waste from restaurants or the meat production industries. Modern landfill sites are toxic and hazardous, as materials such as polyester and petro-chemical based solid waste release toxic gases as they decompose over 100’s of years.
It is estimated that the US produce a shocking 7.6 billion tons of waste every year. Motivated by these growing problems, Agne began an investigation into industrial metal waste left behind by soil remediation and drinking water supply companies across her home region, The Netherlands. Generating around 30,200 tons of toxic metal waste per year, and 10 tons of iron waste per month for one town alone, there is little legislation in place around the disposal of this toxic matter.
Agne was inspired to use her knowledge as a maker to imagine new solutions for waste materials which exist in our local environments. Her ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ projects are the outcome of this research and include creating glazes for ceramic tiles, and dyestuffs for textiles – from waste metal residue.
'Ignorance is Bliss' ceramic tiles
“My ambition is to challenge the current industrial mass-manufacturing system…. If there is a slight difference in colours, it is mostly discarded. We are able to take [positive] approaches to sustainable innovation as there is more space for experimentation in finding creative ways and taking risks.” Agne Kucerenkaite
'Ignorance is Bliss' textile dyes
Iron Pigments | Ceramic Glaze
Within her ceramic glaze developments, Agne found that iron pigments can produce a selection of beautiful earthy shades such as softened yellow, rust, espresso, coal and deep forest greens. Whilst manganese can give us purple, brown and black. Agne can further alter the colour of the ceramic glaze by adding other metals and minerals or choosing different oxidation firing methods.
Agne has blended the new metal waste pigment with porcelain clay, glaze, glass, and textiles, creating a collection of interior/exterior ceramic tiles coloured using 100% industrial metal waste. Surprisingly, Agne found the more contaminated the raw material, the more vibrant the designed objects are, truly turning trash into treasure!
'Ignorance is Bliss' porcelain tableware
Waste tiles X interior by Anne Claus
We asked Agne ‘What is your favourite colour?’ And she sent us this beautiful quote in response:
"Things like the rich golden yellow of the yolk from a broken egg, or the color of tea brimming in a teacup, are not merely colors; rather they are perceived at a deeper level through their texture and their taste, attributes inherent in their material nature. People perceive color through the combination of such elements. In this regard, color is not understood through our visual sense alone, but through all our senses. Insofar as color systems are based solely on the physical, visual nature of objects, they cannot convey our total response." White, by Kenya Hara
Future Colour | Find out More
Instagram | @agne.kucerenkaite