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University of Plymouth MA graduate Keightley’s work explores the use of alternative applications for materials and processes and to attempt to identify a new and more sustainable way of moulding materials. Gavin says “It is part of our instinct as humans to touch and feel things to gain an understanding of them” he added. “I wanted to create pieces that offer a multi-sensory experience.
When people find out the furniture is made from food, they want to smell it to see if there are any remnants of the manufacturing process”.
Working using a casting method he found that a lot of the mould materials on the market were synthetic so began hunting for a natural alternative. One night during his student years, a failed attempt to cook a bowl of couscous resulted in a hardened mass that retained its shape when removed from the bowl. Keightley realised that couscous and other foodstuffs could be used as a moulding material with unique properties that are expressed in the details of the resulting surfaces.
A range of materials including bread, couscous, jelly and mashed potato have been used to produce artworks, which demonstrates the potential for different foods to be used for casting.
Once the pieces are complete, Keightley gathers the food-based casting materials and composts them. He suggested that the next step is to grow his own food that can be used to create a more circular manufacturing process.
The designer, as well as using bone china for the more delicate pieces, chose Jesmonite as a casting material for his furniture as it picks up all the details of the mould and won’t react with the metal support structures embedded in some of the furniture items. It can also be dyed in any colour, including the fluorescent shades used to give the designs their distinctive character.
Keightley also experimented with other casting materials for different elements of the furniture. Handles on the drawers of the cabinets are made from pewter poured into moulds containing other foods,including peanut butter, noodles, rice and mashed potato.The most interesting effects were created by materials with a high fat content, as the fat inside the mould would bubble when the hot pewter was added and create unusual, unpredictable textures.
Gavin has recently be shown at Dutch Design Week, MaterialDriven, Hauser & Wirth in London and was chosen to be a part of Future Heritage at Decorex London, a platform that shows talented young names in British Craft.