An “APeel” to Material (and Disciplinary) Innovation
In an age when designing intangible systems and interactions is often elevated over the making of “things” – either in the name of ecological sustainability or tackling everyday challenges in a systemic, as opposed to an acupuncturist, manner – the seemingly archaic field of goldsmithing, silversmithing, metalwork & jewellery could seem limited in its function and role. Alkesh Parmar’s APeel project, has, however, alerted me to the revisionist path this field has taken, as examplified by the goals of the department of “GSM&J” at the Royal College of Art in reconsidering the meaning of ‘objects of human making’, and as demonstrated by Parmar’s final project as a GSM&J graduate.
In the spirit of ‘re-materialising’ the de-materialised, that characterised his other projects, Parmar had processed finely grounded orange peels into square and cylindrical blocks, with a texture of a cork but solidity of compressed sawdust, that could be machine- or hand-moulded into everyday tools such as utensils, cups, and orange squeezer. The process was however just as indicative of a humble and dogged attempt as the end-product as seen from the failed experiments presented as part of the display, revealing the numerous tests on how the discardable orange peel reacts to heat and humidity before a perfect composite eventually materialised.
With such boundary-shifting projects by Parmar and others from his department (as seen in these video interviews), could “materialsmithing” be another way of describing their craft?