These Chilean Stone Vessels Are Our Newest South American Design Obsession
While there’s no official equivalent of Slow Food in the design world, there will always be something particularly nice about projects that take the same traditionally made, locally focused approach — especially when the results have as contemporary an aesthetic as Rodrigo Bravo’s new Monolith Series. The creative director of the Santiago, Chile–based studio that shares his last name, Bravo embarked on the project in 2015, wanting to find a way to highlight “production methods, technologies, and materials taken from Chilean geography,” he says. He then spent two solid years researching a stone native to northern Chile, making contact with a stone-turning artisan there, developing a rapport with him, sketching more than 100 drawings of vessels they could create together, and ultimately executing 80 of them.
The 80 vessels — cups, vases, lidded boxes, small bowls — are all carved from single chunks of Combarbalita, “a rock made from volcanic compositions that has only been found in Chile, and that integrates heterogeneous amounts of kaolinite, natroalunite, silica, and hemanite, in addition to some minerals represented in copper and silver oxides,” Bravo explains. All those minerals give the stone particularly striking — and particularly variable — striations and patterns that he and the artisan leveraged to give each individual piece a strong visual character. See for yourself below.