Polyspolia

A proposal for a new manufacturing model in which an object can be endlessly broken up and remade.
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When products reach the end of their useful or favourable lives they are disposed of, never to be seen again by their owner. Polyspolia proposes instead a new kind of relationship to material resources that makes visible the process of recycling, transforming and enhancing in beauty and complexity each generation of products. The project offers an alternative to consumer society’s expectations of newness based on the fantasy of infinite resources. 
The composition of the material allows it to be broken into fragments and infinitely reformed into new products. The use of vivid and contrasting colours in each iteration gives a visual demonstration of this process, exchanging the typical uniform surfaces of newness for a complex, ever-changing aggregate. 
The name Polyspolia comes from the Greek poly ('many', as in polymer) and the Latin spolia (‘spoils’). Spolia was the ancient Roman custom of reusing earlier building material to create new monuments. No attempt was made to hide the older parts, which would be brashly displayed in the surface of the new structure. 
Polyspolia is a chemical process, so sidesteps a traditional limitation of recycling thermosetting plastics - its resistance to melting - and requires no external energy to create a new product. The production model incorporates all of the material from the previous iteration into the new one, thus avoiding the accumulation waste between generations. 
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Thermosetting plastic, calcium carbonate, wood flour, pigment
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Photography by Darek Fortas (1-7) and Will Yates-Johnson (8-11)
I used my father's old mallet to break up the solid pieces to form the irregular aggregate essential to the Polyspolia process.
Smash and recast test piece.
Material tests: many thermosetting plastics were trialled, including polyurethane and polyester resins (natural inheritors to Bakelite's phenolic resin). Various fillers of different grades were also tested, from sawdust and wood flour to calcium carbonate, aluminium hydroxide and talcum powder.
Form, colour and machining tests.
Contextual ideas and inspirations
Willy Wonka's Everlasting Gobstopper: a sweet that not only changes colors and flavors, but can never be finished, and never even gets smaller.
Spolia: the re-use of earlier building material or decorative sculpture on new monuments. The older fragments are not hidden but shown in the surface of the new construction.
Breccia: a rock composed of broken fragments of minerals or rock cemented together by a fine-grained matrix.
"End of Day" Bakelite was created using all the remnants of the day’s color batches - these remnants were swirled together and cast into new objects so as not to waste any.