Per­son Place Thing


Azure - - CONTENTS - WORDS _Danny Sinopoli

En­thu­si­asm for alu­minum foam bubbles over

Michael Young

Michelan­gelo favoured mar­ble. Frank Gehry has a thing for ti­ta­nium. For Bri­tish-born prod­uct de­signer Michael Young, it’s all about alu­minum foam, a ma­te­rial he first be­gan work­ing with when he moved to Hong Kong, his cur­rent base, more than a decade ago. Young even­tu­ally started mak­ing it in his own fa­cil­i­ties, in­fus­ing solid alu­minum with gas us­ing tool­ing he de­vel­oped him­self. The up­shot has been a prod­uct range, from table­top items to fur­ni­ture, shown and sold world­wide – and a mar­riage be­tween medium and maker that, Young has said, “could keep me en­ter­tained for the rest of my life.”

Caix­afo­rum Cul­tural Cen­tre

Of the ad­di­tions made by Span­ish ar­chi­tect Guillermo Vázquez Con­sue­gra to Seville’s Caix­afo­rum Cul­tural Cen­tre, the most dra­matic is the build­ing’s new en­trance canopy. A big part of the vaulted fea­ture’s wow fac­tor can be at­trib­uted to the ma­te­rial he chose for the cladding: sta­bi­lized alu­minum foam, cre­ated by in­ject­ing gas into molten alu­minum. What re­sults is a por­ous, ver­sa­tile sub­stance with a unique pit­ted look. For the Caix­afo­rum en­try, the metal foam was shaped into 12.7-mil­lime­tre-thick pan­els, then screwed to a sec­ondary struc­ture com­posed of gal­va­nized steel pro­files. The raw beauty of the fin­ish makes a pow­er­ful first im­pres­sion. vazquez­con­sue­

MY Dy­nasty vases

Few of Michael Young’s ex­per­i­ments with alu­minum foam have been as strik­ing – or as sin­u­ous – as his lat­est: a col­lec­tion of vases for Gallery ALL, the de­sign in­cu­ba­tor based in Bei­jing and L.A. In­spired by Chi­nese Tao­ism, the five pieces in his MY Dy­nasty se­ries – two of which are pic­tured at left – re­flect the five el­e­ments of Wu Xing phi­los­o­phy (wa­ter, earth, fire, wood and metal) and are dis­tin­guished by their shad­ing (sil­ver, brown, black, blue and red). The colours are achieved by an­odiz­ing the foamed alu­minum, a tricky process that all but en­sures no two tones – or vases – are alike. Their hand­somely pocked sur­faces are more sug­ges­tive of stone than metal.

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