Soft Baroque is the brand of Nicholas Gardner and Saša Štucin, a pair of artists and designers who create work "with conflicting functions and imagery, without abandoning beauty or consumer logic." As part of their goal to "blur the boundaries between acceptable furniture typologies and conceptual representative objects," the duo invented a rather nifty production method by experimenting with balloons, concrete and a containing mold:
"By injecting concrete into balloons and arranging them in a mould, a set of perfectly fitting set of concrete bricks is made. A new method of generating distorted soft architecture and objects and an exploration in the visual and tactile exchange between soft and hard."
They refer to the technique's yield as "Puffy Bricks." Its most recent commercial application is a reception desk at the headquarters of Stockholm-based design brand Hem:
Hem previously commissioned Soft Baroque to make a furniture piece for a pop-up event in 2018, which prompted SB to invent the technique.
While I'd hate to be the guy assembling the thing (last summer I temporarily removed a series of perfectly-fitting flagstones on our property, forgot to record their positions and orientations, and failed miserably in putting them back), it does look like they've figured out a system:
Don't have an account? Join Now
Create a Core77 Account
Already have an account? Sign In
Please enter your email and we will send an email to reset your password.
There are lots of stone structures out there held together with nothing but friction interlocks and they wouldn't be as snugly fit as these. For something that can be assembled in its final location, it would save a ton of labor.
I'm sure the balloons would burn but you still wouldn't have any kind of meaningful bond between the surfaces and would be relying purely on the strength of the interlocks. They also aren't using concrete at all--that's just an aggregate-less cement with no fiber or other form of reinforcement so it's going to be much more prone to catastrophic cracking when rapid thermal cycling takes place.
thermal changes shouldn't be a big problem indoors; outdoors would be another story, of course. i bet a decent construction adhesive would be all that was needed to keep the structure together. personally, i really like how it looks. but in any case, there's a lot of potential here for a unique design, process, and product. things like this evolve so maybe one day they'll get there.
How cool would it be if they could find/develop a balloon material that could be dissolved easily? This would eliminate the need for disassembly/reassembly. I know the smoke output would be bad, but I'm tempted to try it by just burins the balloons off and perhaps painting the finished piece.