Material Monday: Sugar

Material Monday: Sugar

Posted 23 January 2017 by Nirvana CPH

This week Seetal Solanki Director of materials consultancy Ma-tt-er will be discussing sugar as a material, moving it away from our daily diets and into products that could surround us in the future.

Are we using sugar in all the wrong places? Biobased Xorel is a textile that is sourced from a renewable resource, the humble sugarcane plant. The fabric has zero fossil fuels incorporated into the production process yet doesn’t compromise on the high performance finish and application whatsoever.

Sugarcane is a tall perennial grass which is native to warm and tropical climates, indigenous to South and South East Asia. The abundant crop is now growing in more than 90 countries around the world becoming one of the highest lucrative species existing on our planet.

Designer and researcher Ella Bulley’s project Saccaharum treats this very common ingredient and applies new processes and experiences, which elevates sugar into well crafted artefacts for the table. Adding a sense of value to a material we might possibly take for granted. An approach that is very much in line with Rivane Neuenschwander coins that were cast from salt during Frieze New York of Galleria Fortes Vilaça in 2014, referencing the changing notions of when salt was used as currency.

Sugar and glass have often had a direct relationship in the kitchen. William Lamson’s experimental greenhouse, the Solarium, which would traditionally be made from glass panels, is made from 162 panels made from sugar cooked at different temperatures. The purpose behind the Solarium is about bringing the greenhouse back to nature as the design of the space references plant leaf architecture, whereby the stomata opens and closes regulating the temperature evoking the a similar experience to a plant conservatory.

Technology has now caught up and 3D printing has become part of this agricultural system. 3D Systems Culinary Lab have worked in a very cross-disciplinary manner to bring sugar into the 21st century. This system can be implemented within reshaping the culinary industry by combining new technologies with hand-crafted methods.

I often describe cooking as a very similar way to how we work with materials, due to the alchemic nature, turning one ingredient into many applications depending on the process involved. Sugar is quite a similar example as we would normally eat this, however designers and manufacturers are evolving this unexpected material into something quite extraordinary.