Waste-based products have never looked better! In conversation with the innovators at StoneCycling®
Aubergine, Wasabi, Nougat, Truffle, and Caramel—This exotic cohort of names and flavors belongs to a collection of waste-based-bricks from manufacturer StoneCycling.
Netherlands-based StoneCycling is using waste material, primarily from construction, demolition, and from manufacturing industries, to generate brand new recipes for the conventional, fired brick.
Looking at their diverse bricks–called WasteBasedBricks–is no less than a visual feast. Each brick sports a beautiful and natural-looking hue. Also evident is that each kind of brick has a unique texture and grain, owed to its ingredients.
Frankly, waste-based products have never looked better.
What adds value to the appealing aesthetics here, to my mind, are the technique and philosophy that are behind StoneCycling's production. While a majority of designers and manufacturers are geared towards re-using discarded material today, very few are directing their efforts to transform waste material entirely. The aim at StoneCycling is to crunch, grind and blend waste material into a brand new material—A fresh vocabulary, from waste.
Since Tom van Soest and Ward Massa co-founded StoneCycling in 2013, they have developed the WasteBasedBricks, channeled them towards the facades and interiors of high-end architectural projects in Europe, and this year they will launch a collection of furniture crafted from waste-based material. We reached out to StoneCycling last week and had the opportunity to interact with Ward.
Here is our conversation on the roots of StoneCycling, those fabulous flavors of brick, and where the future lies for StoneCycling's innovation with waste-based products.
MD: Ward, tell us how the WasteBasedBrick was born. Is the recipe for these bricks constantly evolving?
WM: We began producing the WasteBasedBricks in a factory that manufactures glazed bricks, where we continue to operate even today. The production of glazed bricks is highly geared towards perfection. Nearly 20 percent of the factory’s production is discarded. This became our first, most direct source of material. Alongside waste material from nearby ceramic factories, we started production of the WasteBasedBrick.
We continue to use a few main, constant materials, but yes the recipe and mix of ingredients are constantly evolving. Now that we are well-known, factories and manufacturers from all over, send us their waste for the production of the bricks.
We search for a few things in that waste material. The first is that it should preferably be a single clean material, not a mix. The second is that we look for material that will push down the firing temperature of the brick during the production process. And finally, the aesthetics–we look for ingredients that will be pleasing to look at, and add value to the visual of the brick.
MD: We LOVE the nomenclature you have created for these bricks. Tell us why the bricks are named as they are.
WM: Aubergine, Truffle, Salt—These names are all linked to the idea of an organic product, that keeps being used in a cyclical manner. We feel that this makes the brick seem more human. The norm, in the industry, is to use codes and numbers for the nomenclature of bricks.
We want to change that, and also to make the brick extremely appealing, or sexy again.
There are a lot of discussions, currently, in Western Europe, as to the viability of the brick for contemporary design and construction. At StoneCycling, we are trying to reinvent the brick, and to make both the materiality and the technology of making bricks popular again.
MD: We see that several of the bricks are handmade. Going forward, as you promote the WasteBasedBricks for larger projects, will this process and production change?
WM: The reason we began creating handmade bricks was that there are a lot of unique things one can do with hand-making techniques.
Since the hand-making of bricks is also a tradition–one that we feel is disappearing in the Netherlands–we wanted to keep it alive and pass it down further with time.
We are currently working on the interior of a club in Amsterdam, where using a lot of the handmade bricks has been both viable and extremely aesthetically pleasing.Having said that, we recognize that the handmade technique would be optimal for up to a certain size of a project, after which upscaling the process would be hard. So, we already have several bricks that are being made at our factory using machines, and several others that can easily be shifted to the machinery format in the future, as situations and the industry, evolve.
MD: Tell us about some of your current and upcoming projects.
WM: Two of the first built projects to be built with our WasteBasedBricks were the Truetalker Pavilion in Amsterdam and a house, that is inhabited now, in Rotterdam. These projects helped us demonstrate to architects that the bricks are a real, viable construction material. Now we are working on several architectural projects which will break ground in 2017. So far, we have worked more in the upscale market. These are projects which are unique and are open to using a waste-based building material. Interestingly, these projects have also ended up being the most exposed to media.
MD: In addition to the WasteBasedBricks, what is StoneCycling working on currently?
WM: This year, at the Dutch Design Week in October, we will showcase a new collection of tables and lamps, created with waste-based material. We are excited to launch this.Another interesting application of our products we are seeing now is in interior design. WasteBasedBricks are being sliced and used in a tile-format in several of our interiors projects right now.