It's easy to create something that's appealing structure-wise, but nailing down a complementary texture is a lot tougher. Elaborate surface treatments can be overpowering, making it tough to recognize a design's clean lines; skip the texture and the composition risks coming off a bit passé. Julien Carretero's series of Stencil Aluminum Furniture seems to have found a refreshing harmony between the two instincts. The fabric-like rivets give a bit of depth to the overall structure—as well as the series' story, if you take the time to take a closer look.
Carretero has managed to create a casting course that's a bit more straightforward and economical than the techniques we're used to reading about. By creating a mold that's lined with heat-resistant strips of fabric, Belgian-based Carretero is able to mimic the textile's composition in a much-simplified aluminum casting process. Check out this behind-the-scenes video:
It's something like a cross between the recently-seen one-of-a-kind desk by Marc Newson/Jony Ive and Max Lamb's heavily textured work. Carretero is nothing if not attentive to detail: His particular technique requires a bit of post-mold sanding (as you can see from the video), but the number of steps in comparison to traditional aluminum casting is much easier to handle. The designer explains what makes his technique more cost-effective and reasonable:
The number of steps required along the process is reduced to its minimum and the need for complex and expensive infrastructures is avoided. Economic flexibility arises from the lightness of the method that encourages locally set production facilities. Whereas technical flexibility is brought through the use of extremely basic and low-cost re-usable mould systems made from raw flat materials.
The method also happens to be eco-friendly, keeping process waste at zero. "Unlike usual metal casting processes, once the mould is unclamped and the piece released, it can instantly be reused for another casting," says Carretero. "This process does not create any waste as the aluminum leftovers can be melted down and the fabric reused over and over."