When working on a project involving the manufacturing of aluminium components, the studio witnessed an industrial process called extrusion. This is a process involving squeezing heated metal through a shaped hole, known as a die, to produce straight aluminium lengths with a precisely shaped cross-section. Despite the sophistication of this technology, it was liable to produce forms of warped imperfection when the first part of the metal to squeeze through the die snagged and contorted as it struggled to work out what shape it should be. As the process continued, the form straightened out and the contorted end was chopped off and melted down. Considering these mutated sections to be the best part, the studio wondered if it was possible to produce warped lengths of extruded aluminium on a larger scale.
At the same time, it seemed that there was a need for a great many kilometres of new seating, to furnish all the new airports and stations being built around the world. Could the extrusion process be used to create this seating? Instead of furniture that contains numerous materials and components, was it possible to form a seat that is a single component in one go, by squeezing it out like toothpaste, with its legs and back already formed?
For sixteen years, the studio continued to look for a machine capable of realising the idea, until finally learning of a new extrusion machine that had been built in the Far East. Capable of exerting ten thousand tonnes of pressure, it was designed to make componentry for the aerospace industry, although the factory had never used it to its fullest extent and could not guarantee the outcome of the experiment.
With the use of this specialised die, the studio succeeded in making a series of pieces in which a straight, clean, extruded length is contrasted with its raw, contorted end.
Project Leader: Stuart Wood
Team: Mark Burrows, Ingrid Hu, Jordan Tobin