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Gorgeous red pottery is made from toxic waste

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Students at the Royal College of Art turned a toxic waste product called Red Mud into sleek pottery

Ceramic plates, bowls, and vases Photo: Royal College of Art

One person’s toxic waste is another’s design object, apparently. Students at London’s Royal College of Art have created a series of stylish ceramic tableware pieces made from an industrial waste product called Red Mud.

Red Mud is a byproduct of turning raw aluminum ore into alumina, the material that’s the basis for so many of our modern gadgets. When the ore is refined, it produces a toxic red sludge that gets dumped into pits large enough to see in satellite images.

Overhead shot of rust colored pottery Photo: Royal College of Art

The group of students—Kevin Rouff, Guillermo Whittembury, Joris Olde-Rikkert, and Luis Paco Böckelmann—worked with a team of material scientists at Imperial College in London, as well as ceramicists to transform the sludge material into clay and glazes that can be used to make beautiful design objects like plates, bowls, and vases (the pieces are now undergoing certification for food safety and non-toxicity—the designers didn’t respond to questions about their process).

The pottery has a rich rust color that looks like a deep terra cotta. Despite their noxious beginnings, they’re strikingly beautiful. But that’s only part of the message. Like other materials made from strange byproducts, the Red Mud ceramics aim to create something new and valuable with an already abundant—and disposable—material.

Via: Fast Company