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Mold It, Cast It

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From the first copper frog cast in Mesopotamia, molding and casting has progressed a long way in the realm of architecture and design since 3200 BC. Here's a roundup of some of our favorite recent projects that are redefining the boundaries of materials and formwork, and will hopefully inspire five more millennia of creative fabrication techniques.

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  Here is a closeup of a double layer of acrylic cast in a formwork of balloons (later popped), seen at OMA's Prada store in Beverly Hills.
    Here is a closeup of a double layer of acrylic cast in a formwork of balloons (later popped), seen at OMA's Prada store in Beverly Hills.
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  Voluptuous and deceptive, Andrew Kudless's P-wall is made from poured plaster cast in nylon fabric. With a movable formwork consisting of wooden dowels that can be systematically reconfigured, the weight of the liquid plaster in the nylon creates bulbous, bulging, bloated shapes that evoke the human skin.
    Voluptuous and deceptive, Andrew Kudless's P-wall is made from poured plaster cast in nylon fabric. With a movable formwork consisting of wooden dowels that can be systematically reconfigured, the weight of the liquid plaster in the nylon creates bulbous, bulging, bloated shapes that evoke the human skin.
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  Max Lamb's pewter stool is cast from a formwork of wet sand on the beaches of Cornwall, England.  After digging the three legs and hexagonal structure plate into the sand, he poured molten pewter into the mold cavity, and when it set, dug out the stool. (This process is beautifully documented on video.)
    Max Lamb's pewter stool is cast from a formwork of wet sand on the beaches of Cornwall, England. After digging the three legs and hexagonal structure plate into the sand, he poured molten pewter into the mold cavity, and when it set, dug out the stool. (This process is beautifully documented on video.)
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  Casting various forms with the help of balloons (and then popping them afterwards) has become a fun whimsy for designers.  Arguably seen first at the Sponge Wall at the Prada store in Beverly Hills in 2004, designed by OMA, this technique has been repeated with numerous materials. Here, we see Rich Gilbert's SuperFoam Chair cast with a liquid foam into a mold of balloons inside a wooden cube formwork. (Also documented extensively via video.)
    Casting various forms with the help of balloons (and then popping them afterwards) has become a fun whimsy for designers. Arguably seen first at the Sponge Wall at the Prada store in Beverly Hills in 2004, designed by OMA, this technique has been repeated with numerous materials. Here, we see Rich Gilbert's SuperFoam Chair cast with a liquid foam into a mold of balloons inside a wooden cube formwork. (Also documented extensively via video.)
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  The walls of Copenhagen's newest concert hall, DR Byen by Jean Nouvel, boasts a quirky twist on the traditional polished concrete slab.  Like Andrew Kudless's piece, this is another example of a hard material cast in a soft formwork -- this tactile wrinkled effect is created by casting the concrete in a plastic sheeting.
    The walls of Copenhagen's newest concert hall, DR Byen by Jean Nouvel, boasts a quirky twist on the traditional polished concrete slab. Like Andrew Kudless's piece, this is another example of a hard material cast in a soft formwork -- this tactile wrinkled effect is created by casting the concrete in a plastic sheeting.
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  Designed by Yoav Avinoam in 2009, this Shavings Table is made from a composite of mixed sawdust, leftover wood shavings, and resin, cast in an everyday plastic tub.  These unique tree-inspired legs are placed into the shavings resin while it is setting, and its dendritic branches seem to provide added anchor and lateral support.
    Designed by Yoav Avinoam in 2009, this Shavings Table is made from a composite of mixed sawdust, leftover wood shavings, and resin, cast in an everyday plastic tub. These unique tree-inspired legs are placed into the shavings resin while it is setting, and its dendritic branches seem to provide added anchor and lateral support.
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  As yet another variation on traditional concrete walls, Steven Holl uses a formwork of bamboo to cast these dark ribbed boundaries to frame the Nanjing Museum of Art and Architecture.
    As yet another variation on traditional concrete walls, Steven Holl uses a formwork of bamboo to cast these dark ribbed boundaries to frame the Nanjing Museum of Art and Architecture.
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  This Neolastic Tableware series by Studio Sjoerd Jonkers makes use of a drip technique of fabrication.  An existing skeleton made from sand provides the base, and a liquid plastic polymer is slowly poured on top in this positive-on-positive molding method.
    This Neolastic Tableware series by Studio Sjoerd Jonkers makes use of a drip technique of fabrication. An existing skeleton made from sand provides the base, and a liquid plastic polymer is slowly poured on top in this positive-on-positive molding method.
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  Renowned modeler and designer Vincent de Rijk has created both sinks and bathtubs from his signature mix of polyester resin. Made from a simple formwork of MDF, these sensual pieces are so polished that I think the sink could become a mirror itself.
    Renowned modeler and designer Vincent de Rijk has created both sinks and bathtubs from his signature mix of polyester resin. Made from a simple formwork of MDF, these sensual pieces are so polished that I think the sink could become a mirror itself.

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