Israel: somewhere between internship and travelling/ Ep.1

"Stop working and start travelling" - Every wall at Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem.


For my masters' internship, I have travelled to Israel. Here, I have been welcomed for three months at Criaterra, a design studio which creates sustainable objets with a research department that drew my full attention. Adital Ela, designer, HIT professor as well as a TEDFellow, concocts recipes with earths, clay and vegetable fibres in order to create materials which are 100% naturel, biodegradable and reusable. Along with Zvi Cohen, material engineer and new dad, they use the ingredients mechanical and aesthetic properties to create tables, lamps, stools and tiles which are resistant and varied in color.


In the studio, I also help El-Or Levy and Dan Elias, two industrial designers who have just graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. We make mixes following strict recipes, weighting the ingredients at the hundredth of a gram and transforming them into objets thanks to the molding press. The ingredients we use are all natural, such as earths rummaged in quarries or in construction sites or vegetable fibres which we cut down to precise lengths.

I have another mission: testing different assemblages of natural oils which would make the designed objets waterproof. We try out many techniques in order to reach our goal: we heat, dry and freeze them as well as mix them together or with other ingredients. We apply these oils in layers on numbered samples during a week. The week later, we test the specimens in distilled water and later calculate the pourcentage of water intake. We write everything down and it's a good thing. We usually work on series of about twenty pieces per week but we have done series of fifty or more samples. That can easily add up to 300 coated tiles for my internship period alone!



The work is more meticulous than what I am used to. Rigour and concentration is necessary in order not to forget ingredients or oil coats, for analysing and classifying results... It's all about following a chemist protocol. These samples are tested for tension, pressure, drying and waterproof levels so we can improve the recipes as we go along.

Criaterra had another intern last year's, Julie Cazaux, friend and designer now freshly graduated from product design at La Martiniere Diderot. She was able to make waterproof samples using natural resins. This year's challenge is getting to the same results, this time, with natural oils. After two months of work with oils coming from all around the world, we are not far from total waterproofing!



Charlie LOPEZ Written by:

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