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PRIN London test samples. Photography by Francois Devulder. Styling by Julie Boucherat.
22nd June 2017

New for 2017: Material of the Year at London Design Fair

For the last 12 months, the London Design Fair team have been scoping out the design world in search of the material currently having the biggest impact on making today. Any guesses?

No, not solid wood (although that is having a moment).

Nope, not clay either.

And it’s not larvikite (smart arse).

For the Fair’s first ever Material of the Year project – to be unveiled at the Old Truman Brewery when the show opens on 21 September – they’ve selected Jesmonite.

If you’re new to the world of acrylic-modified gypsum composites, this might come as a surprise, but the fact is that the lightweight, air-setting, endlessly mouldable invention has become increasingly popular among product designers looking for a functional making material that allows for near-endless visual and textural possibilities. As Simon Pearson, Jesmonite’s MD, puts it, “It is hugely versatile, and allows for endless invention for the user. If you can imagine something as an object then there are very few limitations to what can be done.”

Just ask Ariane Prin, founder of PRIN London, the experimentation-led studio behind the RUST collection of trays, bowls, planters and pots that made their debut at London Design Fair 2015. She mixes Jesmonite AC100 with metal dust salvaged from key cutters to create unique vessels of astonishingly varied textures and colours – the result of a natural oxidisation process that can take from several weeks to a few months, and which continues over the lifespan of the product.

In recognition of her ingenuity with Jesmonite, London Design Fair has commissioned her to create the Material of the Year installation, pushing the limits of the material to create a large-scale site-specific piece that responds to the architecture of the venue.

The result is Rustiles – an extension of RUST and an exploration of the aesthetic possibilities of Jesmonite as a surface material. PRIN London is using its signature Jesmonite blend to make a series of tiles inspired by the classic dimensions of the London brick. The details of exactly what Ariane plans to do with the tiles at the Fair are still under wraps (watch this space), but the installation promises to be PRIN London’s biggest to date, and a fascinating showcase of modern material potential.

Rustiles will be on display on the ground floor of Hall G5 at Old Truman Brewery on 21 - 24 September.
PRIN London's studio. Photography by Mariell Amelie
Key cutting samples. Photography by Ariane Prin
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