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Totem Lab

A candle workshop open to all to encourage a design process free of preconceptions questioning the perpetuation of a standard form for a common object, opening up to new and possible formal choices. The aim is also to encourage a material/manual approach, creating social situations through "thinking with hands".

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Totem lab
Partners: Densa Coop. Soc.


Materials: beeswax, silicone,3d printing

Techniques: mould making, 3d resin printing, candle making.

The workshop was born as a collaboration between Trama and Cooperativa Sociale Densa in the framework of ConDENSA, a project for the implementation of transdisciplinary cultural and educational practices with social repercussions together with various professionals operating in Umbria region.The project included a series of workshops open to a wide audience that, through playful-practical activities, provides an opportunity for an introduction to basic design methodology, outlining the various stages of the process from idea to the concrete realization of an object. The labs develop different themes but are united by: manipulation of geometric shapes or basic graphic elements; working of ductile materials and experimentation with color; the presence of historical references and questioning of pre-established common forms (the standard shape of a candle). The lab, also aims to encourage a material/manual approach, creating social situations through making and thinking with hands, actions that too often appear distant or outdated today.


Above: the wax is colored and brought to temperature for pouring. Alongside: the mold making process.

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Workshop participants started by assembling 3d printed geometric shapes to create a personal matrix shape for their candle. Then, by placing quick-drying silicone around the matrix, they created their mold to pour the colored wax. Then, they proceeded to extract the candles.
The workshop was open to everyone and no prior knowledge was required. The lab, inspired by ceramic and glass works of designer Ettore Sottsass Jr., questions the perpetuation of a standard form for a widespread object like the candle.


In the photos: the separate 3d printed matrices and the silicone molds for the second version of the workshop.


The second version of the totem lab workshop had a focus on experimenting with wax. Participants had silicone molds of each geometric shape created from 3d resin printed matrix.  This allowed to work on color and fragrance of each form and then assemble a single candle composed of 4-5 different shapes, colors and scents.

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