The use of volcanic matter in architecture has a long and rich history, from the Bronze Age to Roman concrete; to César Manrique’s evocative Lanzarote architecture of the 1960s.
Since 2019, design studio FormaFantasma has been researching the potential of volcanic lava as a design material and observing the harmful impact of mass-tourism on both the landscape and culture of Sicily.
When they visited the region of Mount Etna, they were fascinated by how the landscape would change day after day due to constant eruptions. They were compelled by the notion of “nature acting as a miner, expelling minerals and valuable materials without human intervention”.
Together with Dzek, they have created a useful architectural product that makes use of volcanic lava’s material properties, the so-called ExCinere.
Excinere was envisioned as a means to explore further the application of volcanic lava, a “naturally-occurring, self-generating, and abundant material.” After three years of research and experimentation, ExCinere was brought to life as a sophisticated collection of volcanic-ash-glazed tiles.
The collection, as FormaFantasma and Dzek explain, presents a new take on the tradition of volcanic lava as a building material, evoking the dynamic landscape where they come from and the enduring attraction between humans and the impossible force of nature.
The volcanic ash-glazed tiles are suitable for both interior and exterior surfaces; from kitchen counters and bathroom floors to architectural facade clad- ding. Colours and textures are created by mixing varying quantities, particle sizes, and densities of volcanic matter.
MILAN DESIGN WEEK
Last year at the Milan Design Week, we had the opportunity to see an entire exhibition dedicated to ExCinere research and collection. We were impressed to see how beautiful tiles embodied the powerful encounter among design, nature, and science.