AGNE KUCERENKAITE, Ignorance is Bliss Project

Agne Kucerenkaite is a designer who works with raw materials, transforming them into valuable products and systems, seeking interaction between design, society, industry and the environment. Her method is characterised by in-depth research, an experimental and practical approach, guided by historical and socio-cultural contexts. The designer is featured on WeVux’s new and free Materials Design Map with two projects, the bio-leather Amber Waste is Bliss and the tiles Ignorance Is Bliss. (Cover image Amber Waste is Bliss biocomposite collection, ph. courtesy)

Amber, a natural resin, is still used today to make decorative objects and jewellery; however, the manufacturing process releases tonnes of amber dust that is usually discarded due to contamination with sandpaper. The designer has therefore conducted in-depth research to find a use for this waste, culminating in Amber Waste is Bliss bio-composites, a combination of amber and other recycled materials.

The approach involves creating solid bio-composites using a hot pressing technique, in which the powder is moulded, melted and pressed. To overcome the initial softness and brittleness of the solution, other waste materials are added to the formulation, such as cellulose from sewage waste and the hemp solid remains generated by the extraction of edible oil. This modification enhances the properties of the amber biocomposite, which is then used to create interior wall tiles and surface panels.

The second application is a new bio leather-like material in which heat is used to bind the ingredients, which are later spread into the molds and dried. Additional materials have been carefully chosen to be degradable and part of them are sourced from partners who already are supplying the Ignorance is Bliss project with various types of waste. The material is completely flexible, doesn’t break easily and can be further processed with cuts and seams.

Another project by Agne Kucerenkaite is Ignorance is Bliss, which is based on the reuse of industrial waste and the creation of sustainable ceramic tiles with reduced environmental impact. Specifically, the tiles in the project are glazed using pigments solely derived from industrial metal waste and byproducts – iron waste, manganese and metal mixtures. The amount of waste in the glaze is up to 40%, as ceramic glazes are a combination of base transparent glaze and pigments. Drinking water supply and soil remediation industries, which produce thousands of tonnes of residue per year are the main suppliers of metal waste for Ignorance is Bliss ceramic tiles. The collection has over 20 colours and is the result of years of extensive research and experimentation. The project confirms that industrially made ceramic pigments can be replaced with the ones from metal waste.

Designed with a responsibility to human and environmental health, Ignorance is Bliss ceramic tiles are on the way to becoming fully circular: a significant step was taken in 2023, replacing calcium carbonate (the melting agent in the process) with calcium byproduct obtained from the drinking water supply industries’ softening process. The amount of calcium waste in the current glazes is up to 20%, further amplifying the overall utilisation of waste materials in ceramic tiles, In addition, there is ongoing research into implementing biofuel waste (specifically wood ash) and natural stone waste in these tiles; an addition that involves not only pulverising the waste but also exploring creative aesthetic solutions.

Agne Kucerenkaite will also be present at Milan Design Week 2024 at Worth Exhibition – Bottega Immagine, v. Farini 60 – where she will show the new project Stone Waste is Bliss and at Around the Table, curated by Masquespacio – v. Luigi Porro Lambertenghi 3 – with a porcelain and glass table service, part of the project Ignorance is Bliss, coloured using only industrial metal scraps.

As anticipated, you can find Amber Waste is Bliss eco-leather and Ignorance Is Bliss tiles on the Materials Design Map. For more information on the projects visit Ignorance is Bliss and follow the project on Instagram!

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