Inspired by the streets of their native town, Melbourne designers James Walsh and Ash Allen have designed the Igneous Light that brings Victorian bluestone indoors.
March 29th, 2017
Igneous rock is formed by the cooling and solidifying of molten materials, which makes it an apt name for James Walsh and Ashley Allen’s radiant circular wall light made by the casting and firing of bluestone.
The Igneous Light emerged from James’ honours thesis at RMIT. “Essentially it was an exploration of material and process that later developed into researching what is iconic about Melbourne,” James explains. So as he looked around his native city, James saw the rich history of building with bluestone, which has been quarried in the region for more than 160 years.
“The focus of the project really took shape when I came across factories and quarries around Castlemaine and Mount Alexander, and after I discovered the tremendous amount of waste at a particular factory in Melbourne,” James says. “Fifteen cubic metres of sludge is produced each day and it’s going straight into landfill.”
Inspired by designers Max Lamb, Maarten de Ceulaer and a Forma Fantasma project that similarly used lava from Mount Etna in Sicily, James and Ash started experimenting with bluestone waste and with different casting techniques at Ash’s factory. “Bluestone has mainly been used outdoors on a grand scale, so part of our intention was to create a product that we could bring indoors and use on a more intimate level,” Ash explains. After six months of trial and error, James and Ash formulated a special re-useable casting sand and an optimal firing schedule that allows them to produce a reliable and reproducible result.
Bluestone is a naturally porous material, but once fired it becomes denser than the original stone. James and Ash therefore made a slim form to minimise the weight of the product while still being very robust, and it has a natural veining and texture that James and Ash can play with by altering the firing schedule. The light has a gold-crown mirrored globe that enhances its lava-like qualities, and the bright ring of light around the circumference (caused by the raised meniscus that forms during the melting process) casts an unexpected halo shadow on the wall.
The Igneous Light is first project James and Ash have worked on together but it certainly won’t be the last. In addition to exploring the potential of bluestone for future interior products, they also have plans to experiment with other materials, such as granite, using the same casting methods.
James will be exhibiting the Igneous Light at Salone del Milan in April with the Melbourne Movement and he looks forward to sharing its Melbournian origins with a European audience.
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