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Brief Published: 17 Jul 2014

Magnetised Clay

Magnetised Clay by Jólan van der Wiel

An experimental manufacturing technique from Dutch designer Jólan van der Wiel sees ceramic forms being created through the pull of magnetic force. 

To make the unusual and slightly haphazard forms, metal powder is mixed into clay slip, which is then slowly dripped through a small nozzle onto a rotating surface. A magnetic force draws the material up, against gravity, suspending it in place until it is dried, creating the shape of the piece. The natural magnetic force is a key factor in the manufacturing process. This leads to unexpected interruptions in the shape, resulting in an organic form that appears almost grown. 

Van der Wiel envisages the technique being scaled up, with the possibility of even designing architecture through magnetic forces. He used a similar technique in his graduation project Gravity Stools, mixing plastic and iron filings to create furniture pieces.

Always looking to push boundaries, designers are exploring how reactive materials – like this magnetised clay – can be responsive, and allow for unconventional approaches to manufacturing. For more inspiration, see the A/W 15-16 Design Direction React, and Magnetic Potential