Solidification of Foam



Reconnecting with mircroorganisms

#StudioExperimentalDesign #Master-Thesis

«Solidification of Foam» deals with the activity of microorganisms, which we can’t see by the naked eye. Microorganism cultures are all around us and in us as well, but we can hardly imagine what they do and how they look like. The unusual mixture of microorganisms and porcelain named «Fermented Porcelain» displays their activity in lasting, tangible material by solidification.

The aim of the Master's thesis is to raise awareness of the microorganisms which surround us, because the limitation of our visual perception impoverishes the imagination of seeing and knowing smaller worlds. What we think of nature is limited by our observation. Bacteria, and particularly fermentation, were first observed by microscope in the 19th century and then broadly used in biochemistry. Yeast was recognized as fungi and therefore as a living organism, and this powerful little organism creates so much; plants wouldn’t grow without them, fermented foods enable bacteria to do their “work” for our purpose, and although we have learned how to benefit from these natural processes, we are normally unaware of them.

The research involved risk to alter an understanding by combining two elements which we don‘t usually relate to each other and the questions raised might be naive, over-curious and speculative: Is it possible that yeast can build ceramic porous material by using their ability to grow cell structures? Why do we need to pay more attention to microorganisms? How can material transmit a message about natural processes? What are we losing when we are living in a smooth world and not touching porous materials?

Microorganisms are suitable for making food, and I‘m convinced that their abilities can also be used for producing materials. The porous surface of Fermented Porcelain is tickling; its foam made out of stone. It‘s asking us to touch it and to play with it in the palms of our hands. Porous is relaxing, abrasive and it makes us think.

«Solidification of Foam» aims to leave users with an increased sense of the power of the creation of nature, and that they realize that we are not the center of the universe. In conclusion, our actions in the environment are shaping the future, and the environment has a direct effect on us. Microorganisms are here, close to us and contact with them is necessary, unavoidable and essential. If we ignore invisible nature, we destroy the balance. In reference to Tim Ingold's statement "if the gap between organism and environment is too wide, the creature dies”, Fermented Porcelain can inspire us to reconnect with what we overlooking or forgetting.


Dr. Ralf Michel

, Studio Integrative Design

Prof. Dr. Bettina Köhler

, Masterstudio Design