Design Soft Soil, the upholstered clay sofa

Soft Soil, the upholstered clay sofa

Giorgia Massari
soft soil |

Collectible, the Brussels design fair, has just concluded. Among the many pieces on display, one singular piece of furniture caught our eye. It is Soft Soil, a chaise longue with a clay upholstery. Made by French studio Niveau Zéro Atelier, this piece meets functionality and sustainability, but not only that. It is the unexpectedness and organicity that open a reflection. The seat molds itself to the body that uses it, creating an interaction between user and object, encouraging the audience to embrace the unexpected. In addition to the chaise longue, Niveau Zéro Atelier also recently presented a similarly made seat for OS Studio, also in Brussels. But how does clay stay wet? Let’s find out more about the production process and all the experiments that led to its design.

From construction site to collectible design

Niveau Zéro Atelier usually begins the design of its designs by researching alternative and strictly reclaimed materials. Again, the clay and aluminum used to create the chaise long and the seat are waste materials from factories located around Paris. In particular, it is interesting to dwell on the clay, which is entirely recovered from construction sites outside of Paris, where it accumulates as waste residue from the excavation process. After recovery, the designers of Niveau Zéro Atelier treat the clay through a refining process with repeated rinses and filtrations. Once ready, the clay is placed in a vacuum inside a plastic sheath that, emptied completely of air, allows the earthy substance to remain moist at all times and thus adapt to the body of its user. Its malleability is in contrast to the host structure, which is instead rigid and cold from both an aesthetic and tactile point of view.

soft soil |

The combination of steel and clay, which retains its rough appearance in its natural green color-reminiscent of beauty masks-contributes to a strong industrial aesthetic. The Soft Soil project is part of MEGA, a long-term project that explores the production of ceramics in situ, starting precisely from construction sites in the Parisian suburbs where the raw material is widely available.

Written by Giorgia Massari
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