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Semi Synthetic Series

Shortlisted 2020
Furniture & Product – Bespoke

Designer/maker – Peter Marigold
Wood supplier – Scott Kelly Tree Surgeons
Species – birch

The Semi Synthetic series examines objects that are part natural, part synthetic; part mass-produced, part handcrafted. The project was a response to research into the development history of the plant-based material cellulose nitrate, the first semi synthetic plastic, in the area during the Victorian period as part of the exhibition ‘Raw Materials: Plastic at the Bow Arts in Hackney’. The project introduces handcrafted materials into the plastic production process. It simultaneously evokes the familiarity of the natural world and the strangeness of mass-produced repetitive forms. Rough timber moulds were first chainsawn and then filled with a starch based bio-plastic to capture the texture in either naturalistic tones or bright fresh colours. The timber needed to be soaked in freezing cold water to prevent adhesion as the plastic is thermally activated. The process needed to be quite different to regular casting processes, in which release agents are used, due to the unusual combination of timber and plastic.