London-based product designer David Steiner, fresh out of the Royal College of Art, feels better at home. For his recent project titled In House, where the home transforms into a workshop for making hand-made utility objects, he has domesticated a series of industrial production techniques, including an array of molding and casting methods (from steam-bending wood in the microwave to molding clay-like sugar paste on a makeshift potter’s wheel), cutting and bending all sorts of materials along the way. His intention is to use as little specialised equipment as possible. In doing so he builds his own devices by modifying existing domestic appliances and objects - the most ingenious of these being a double-axis rotational cast made out of embroidery loops, fixed with screws inside the tub of a washing machine.
The In House project flirts with process-based art, where the resulting objects are not the aim and goal, but a 'mere' byproduct of the process. Although the results are indeed beautiful and possess a particular aesthetic that betrays the unconventional methods deployed, it is the process itself that is important here. Thus, Steiner’s proposal is in fact one of tapping into the potential of the home as a tamed factory, magically transcending the banality of the confined urban living space in a multitude of surprising ways.
''There is definitely a conscious link to the culture of DIY and self-sufficiency, in fact the reason I wanted the new functions of these objects to be as manufacturing devices was partly as a reaction to the growing prevalence of desktop digital manufacture. I have tried to almost exclusively keep to using raw materials found within the home so that the whole project is very much self-contained.''
David Steiner’s project is a concrete example of sustainable manufacturing processes. Scaled down to fit the home, by placing an emphasis on trusting our own hands and making good use of what we already have, designing is based on what we have at hand. This working ethos – with its concomitant homemade aura, playfulness and inventive production methods – deserves attention from big manufacturers and design firms, and is definitely something that we need to see more of in the world today.