Zhekai Zhang uses discarded coffee grounds to color the “Coffire” pendant light.
For one of his latest creations entitled “Coffire”, Zhekai Zhang explores using discarded coffee grounds as a sustainable method of coloring porcelain lights. Inspired by ancient pit firing techniques for pottery making, the project intends to create an ‘imperfect’ product that forms a relationship between industrial standardized production and craftsmanship. The result is a series of reddish, marble-effect pendant lamps, each one having its own unique pattern of swirls and textures.
Zhang developed a process that involves a low-temperature firing process at 700-1000°c. The Coffire pendant lamps are made from high-quality porcelain clay in Jingdezhen. after firing, the body is white, bright and glossy and feels smooth and delicate.
The interaction between the biodiesel and the sugar in the coffee grounds, which oxidizes to red matter, forms a random texture on the surface. The surface texture is influenced by many variables, such as temperature, humidity, coffee grounds density, etc.
Coffire follows the concept of sustainable design by exploring a new possibility for the treatment of discarded coffee grounds. In addition, coffee grounds ensure a safe product, compared to traditional pit firing, which tends to use toxic metals as coloring materials.
The project also replaces the traditional sand pit with a gas kiln to achieve mass production, solving the problem of the high waste rate of traditional pit firing.