An interview with steel designer Philipp Weber

Philipp Weber is one of the promising maker-designers who participated in the master class Making & Metal 2017 to find out more about the steel making process. He wanted to discover how he could manipulate the material at an early stage to get new shapes. We spoke to him about what he learned this week.

Can you tell me why you wanted to participate in Making and Metal?
With my recent project From Below I got interested in the process of steel making. From Below focuses on the very first step of producing steel, which is making industrial coke from fossil coal. In the following steps of the production chain iron ore is mixed together with this coke to produce iron and eventually to make steel. I wanted to participate in the course to find out more about these steps, which follow after the manufacture of industrial coke.

What did you work on during the week?
I tried to create inverted geometric shapes by using the lost-foam sand casting technique.

What kind of result did you hope for?
I hoped to find a way to create shapes that are inverted and play with the theme of geometry. The thought behind it is to show a link to the forms I created in From Below, which are simple geometric shapes. The shapes I wanted to make from metal should be more complex to show that it is further within the industrial process than the material created in From Below. I also wanted to reflect on the liquidity of the material during casting, which is why I chose to focus on inverted forms.

Why did you choose to work with these local techniques and materials?
These techniques might be local, but very global at the same time, since it they are highly industrial as well. In heavy industry these casting techniques are used to produce heavy motors for the maritime and automobile industry. Nowadays the world is getting very complex and we tend to loose understanding for the originality and the origin of things. I believe it is important to show products that allow an access to the process, which they were made with.

Will you use the techniques you learnt this week again?
Even though the time was to short to realize a first prototype I gained a lot of knowledge and understanding during these days of the course. I am quite confident that this knowledge will help me create the objects I am aiming for. So yes, of course! My idea is to continue with this project!

From Below