Daring experiments to the cement era | CASTLE series

Many years ago, Meiric visited Florence and was intrigued by the “Jersey Barrier”, a modular concrete employed to separate lanes of traffic, that stood in the middle of the square. The delicate work of the fence amazed him and broke his stereotype against  “cement objects”. While he was impressed, a bold idea occurred to him: “Is it possible to use cement as a material for lighting?”

That’s where it all began the following cement materials experiment for over two years.

A period of innovation and experimentation with new techniques

At that time, you could never see a cement lamp in the market, every experimental idea was an adventure. At the beginning it was even difficult to reach a breakthrough making the cement strong enough to avoid cracking. After a series of failures, the R&D team turned to looking for a composite material. In a series of approaches eventually coming up with a formula and appropriate temperature that effectively accelerated the concrete curing and crystallized in this way encloses the aggregate particles and produces a dense material , ensuring its comprehensive and impact strengths by a critical 40-degree impact test. The mold, on the other hand, is hand-made with inner high-precision silicone rubber + outer plaster for easy demolding and for giving that delicate and smooth texture.

Before they were

In addition to material innovation, another key factor to make this work is the production process management.

The mixed cement has to be evacuated by vacuum machine to 6~8 cmHg (Centimetres of mercury, while the atmospheric pressure is 76 cmHg). After the machine stops stirring, the concrete material begins to solidify. At this time, the master has to precisely control the timing and volume of the grout, keeping it slow, and focusing on every detail, while filling into the mold. Any tiny slip-up in this stage may result in unwanted imperfections such as cracks or holes.

In order to prevent the shade from cracking by dramatical change of temperature and humidity, there is a wash-and-soak procedure extending the dry-up period. The cement crystallized in this way encloses the aggregate particles and produces a dense material. Each piece is gently hand washed and polished by P600 sandpaper back and forth one at a time and carefully wiped and patted dry., and it is then removed outdoor 5-7 days for drying. A cement lampshade is officially completed.