The latest ingenious project from Turner-prize winning architecture collective Assemble is, like previous initiatives, based on the repurposing of existing tools for the creation of products that express individual perspectives and help reinforce community ties. Growing out of their efforts to rebuild the Granby neighborhood in Liverpool, they founded a community-led workshop, with a suite of fabrication equipment and an impetus to help develop local, designer-driven product creation.

Earlier experiments that Assemble brought for demonstration at A/D/O included the use of industrial extruders – exploring forms that can be created through the controlled drawing out of materials, like a pasta machine. Their latest is, in a sense, the opposite of this: the “squishing” effects possible using a 60-ton hydraulic press.

By combining diversely colored clays onto ceramic tableware, and then inserting them into the machine, produce random-seeming colorful variations on pastel ceramics; the chance encounter of the lumps of clay and the press means each item is unique.

Assemble compare the work to Agateware and Nerikomi ceramics, and like those traditional craft techniques, the patterning is not a glaze or a transfer, but rather clay that has been itself colored through the body.

Assemble describes the process: “The pieces are stamped, de-moulded, dried, carefully trimmed and cleaned before their first kiln firing to 1000 degrees. They’re then sanded, glazed and re-fired to 1250 to reach full hardness. It’s a blend of precision craft and backyard science that has taken a great deal of trial and error to perfect.”

The combination of chance encounter and high-finish is typical of the Granby Workshop’s products, as is the provenance of their press: the RAMBO was acquired from a ceramics factory in Stoke-on-trent. “We found a cool machine, and then tried to figure out what we could do with it,” Assemble's Lewis Jones told the Guardian. It went on a test run to Milan Design Week (in association with A/D/O), before arriving at the Granby Workshop. Splatware will soon be available in The Shop.

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