Designers Lonneke Gordijn (Alkmaar, 1980) and Ralph Nauta (Swindon, 1978), who met while attending Design Academy Eindhoven, have been working together under the name of Studio Drift since 2006. The theme of their installations and interactive sculptures is frequently light and space. Their work seeks out connections between nature and technology, employing state-of-the-art methods as well as delicate, meticulously executed handwork. In collaboration with scientists, engineers, universities, and research institutes, they consistently explore the limits of materials and available technologies.
A case in point is their collaboration with a Dutch chemist who, in 1972, started investigating ways to recycle chemical waste. After 25 years of research, he discovered that such waste can be nearly completely recycled by heating it in an industrial furnace to the melting point of precious metals like gold and silver. Once molten, these metals can be extracted and reused. The residual ash is further processed in a vitrification furnace of his own design, under conditions that resemble those inside a volcano. After the material has liquefied, it can be poured into a mold. The result is an intensely black material strikingly similar to volcanic glass or obsidian. Gordijn and Nauta experimented with this synthetic obsidian until they succeeded in making a series of objects: the Obsidian Mirrors.
The mirrors are shaped like drops of liquid with a flat, polished face and bring to mind the purest substance imaginable: water. They symbolize the transformation of chemical waste into a new element, and also hold a promise for the future—Gordijn and Nauta are committed to making total recycling of chemical waste a matter of course, and an integral part of every industrial manufacturing process.
Studio Drift is one of the 26 designers and studios that are selected for the group show Dream Out Loud – Designing for Tomorrow’s Demands. The exhibition can be visited from 26 August 2016 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Read more about the exhibition or order tickets.