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Developing New Avenues for Silver Design: Exploring elasticity as a medium for emotional expression

In 2008 Kristina was awarded an AHRC practice-led grant under the title "Exploring new Avenues for Silver Design using Argentium Sterling Silver and Laser Welding" to continue the work begun at Middlesex University in 2005.

The project was conducted through a combination of theoretical and creative inquiry. It firstly developed a theoretical framework that considered the role of the pursuit of new avenues within craft practice in general and silver design in particular with regard to its sustainability. Secondly, the project explored how such new avenues can be developed creatively, introducing elastic movement into silver design as means for emotional expression. The project resulted in the publication of four research papers (Niedderer 2009, Niedderer and Townsend 2010, Niedderer 2012a, Niedderer 2012b), and in an exhibition held at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from September 2009 to March 2010.

Creative Enquiry

The creative work explored three areas: 1) the technical aspects of joining thin hard-rolled Argentium through laser welding; 2) the design development, which investigated how the material and process can be combined to exploit the elasticity of silver; 3) the expressive opportunities arising from the introduction of elastic movement into silver design.

Design Development

Developing from the original set of cups designed in 2005, two further sets of cups were designed, which progressively integrated the use of laserwelding and of thin hard-rolled Argentium into the design of the handles, foot and lip of the cups.

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Creative Development

Elasticity is one of the important characteristics of metal. However, traditional silver is usually rigid. The combination of Argentium and laser welding has offered breaking with this convention and to explore emotional expression based on elastic movement.

'How can we bring silver alive?' is an important question. Joining very thin strips of Argentium (0.1mm thick) through laser welding, the flowery forms become 'alive'. Fragile looking and yet strong and flexible, they react to any disturbance in the room with a slight upward vibration, seemingly welcoming the onlooker.

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The two fruit bowls transform in use. When laden with apples, Fruit Bowl 1 changes from a flattened ball into a doughnut shape. This not only emphasises the weight and physical presence of the fruit. The combined upward and side-ways movements give it a sometimes joyful, sometimes comical expression that invites the user to play with it.

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Watch video: fruit bowl 1 and fruit bowl 1 (part 2)

Fruit Bowl 2 also transforms with use: it closes its fingers the more it is laden with fruit, seemingly protecting its contents.

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Relevant Publications

Fels, D., Blackler, A. and Niedderer, K. (2021). Does bouncy equal happy? Comparing user's interpretations of emotions conveyed by one designed moving object based on the Soma-Semiotic Framework. Applied Ergonomics. DOI

Niedderer, K. (2012). Exploring Elasticity as a Medium for Emotional Expression in Silver Design. International Journal of Design , 6 (3), pp. 57-69. link

Niedderer, K. (2012). Exploring Elasticity as a Medium for Emotional Expression in Silver Design. In D. Durling, P. Israsena, T. Poldma, and A. Valtonen. Proceedings of the International DRS conference 2012 (CD). Bangkok, Thailand, 4-7 July 2012, pp.1328-1347. pdf

Niedderer, K. (2009). Sustainability of Craft as a Discipline? Making Futures, Vol 1, pp. 165-174. pdf


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