aluminium: impact & transparency 

about the prosaic elegance of a mundane object, its origins and the question of its environmental impact

Overview:

This project is an in-depth research into aluminium casting processes and the aluminium recycling lifecycle in the UK followed by a life cycle assessment in a foundry to investigate and determine the environmental impact of cast 
aluminium objects.
And last but not least the creation of a mundane object - a hook - and the question of how it can communicate its origins and impact in a transparent way.

Royal College of Art, London

manufacturing platform

2019/2020

thanks to:

New Pro Foundries
Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London

 
project chapters
project video
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aluminium recycling lifecycle

Aluminium is one of the most common elements on earth and extensively used in our product world.

The mining of ores and smelting of primary aluminium uses vast amounts of energy and resources, but once in the system, its fascinating properties enable infinite recycling which only requires 5% of the initial energy.

I have visited and mapped out the stakeholders and material movements involved in each step of the lifecycle to gain valuable insights right from the source and identify possible disruptions within the cycle.

 
Foundry processes

I have collaborated with the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London and New Pro Foundries to understand the casting process and performed a lifecycle assessment to understand, consider and minimise the environmental impact (C02e emissions) of cast pobjects already from early production stages on.

 
imPACT & TRANSPARENCY

How much do we actually know about the impact of our everyday actions and consumption ?

With ever-increasing global challenges questions should not only be raised about our current systems of producing commodities but equally, emphasise the need to challenge our decisions as individual consumers.
But how much do we actually know about the impact of our everyday actions and consumption? 
Currently, almost none of the products available on the shelves provide any kind of information about their carbon footprint or the way of how they are sourced.

A paradigm shift in providing information and the amount we trust a customer to take is urgently needed.

This leads to numerous further questions of how transparency about environmental impact, origin and production might generally affect consumer behaviour and ultimately result in the establishment of transparency as a new value system. Last but not least, how does this knowledge about the product change the connection between user and product, eventually leading towards a longer lifetime of the object?

Throughout the “Work-In-Progress Show“ at the Royal College of Art, I interviewed and engaged the audience about their knowledge and understanding of their own environmental impact. It provided me with the understanding, that barely anyone had an idea of their impact and how to relate to C02e emissions, the value behind a carbon footprint.

 
the mundane: an universal hook
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A mundane hook, universal in its applications, mono-material and of unobtrusive elegance represents an ideal object to propose this alternative value system of transparency beyond glitz and gloss. A hook, which does not deny the traces of its origin by its external characteristics and thus becomes a direct and individual link to its creators.

 
Design Process
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© copyright: 2020 by Andreas Kamolz

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