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From Fish Scales to Sea Jewellery
To produce an identity-based meaningful design considering sustainable products has been a widely explored theme nowadays. The project to be presented aims to fill a gap in a Portuguese fishing town’s industry, through the usage and processing of discarded fish scales. It foresees the design of a set of jewels inspired by a coastal city, therefore reflecting its identity, and having into account social and environmental spheres. After collecting the material, it was transformed according to an exploratory process. Material Driven Design Method (MDD) has helped considering material properties, its experiential qualities and materials experience vision, finally leading to conceptualization and production of artefacts. “The Fish Fest”, by Erik de Laurens (UK), was also of great support for the project’s development, having proved that it is possible to conceive products through a fish scales composed material without any external binder. The referred jewellery pieces are divided in two different lines, Escama and Maré, which reveal two surprisingly unusual techniques regarding fish scales’ thermal pressing and the inclusion of fish scales in molten glass, respectively. Both lines were produced for We Won’t Waste You project, a social design project developed in Design Studio of Faculty of Engineering of University of Porto. Escama presents a set of earrings using pressed fish scales clusters with no added components, subsequently attached to brass. These reveal the strong fishing tradition that characterizes this fishing town, through naturally appealing pieces that combine the simplicity and delicacy of overlapping fish scales’ patterns - organic matter stands out for its bright hue and pearly glow. Physical protection, as this material’s primary function, is now transformed into some kind of symbolic protection, much like an amulet. Maré shows a technique in which the fish scales are included between two glass plates, fused together along with brass strands. Maré jewels combine earrings and pendants made out of discarded glass pieces exhibiting these fish scales as exquisite silvery elements. Each one of these pieces proposes a new life for this surplus material, enhancing its aesthetic qualities through the glass’ transparency and blue hues. They finally bring us the Portuguese’s seawaters through the sophistication of a jewel. Both lines present a new perspective using an underestimated material whose life span is now extended, moving towards a sustainable economy: reaching a greater poetic dimension.