Silo Studio is the design collaboration of Attua Aparicio and Oscar Wanless, who formed the partnership while studying on the Design Products course at the Royal College of Art (2009 – 2011). Currently based within a plastics factory on the southern bank of the Thames.
Coming from backgrounds in engineering and design, the core of Silo’s work is to look at industrial processes and materials, bringing them into the studio to develop. By adopting a hands-on approach, which they refer to as ‘Handmade hi-tech’, they aim to discover possibilities that the production line does not see, developing the expressive potential in industrial materials. A mix of craft and technology.
They invented a new manufacturing process that involves steaming polystyrene beads inside fabric moulds. They used the process, called NSEPS (Not So Expanded Polystyrene), to create this range of furniture. Steaming causes the beads to melt, expand and fuse together, distorting their moulds to create writhing muscular shapes.
To make a certain piece, the designers first sew a simple mold from a coated textile. “Because polystyrene expands at 212 degrees, and you can wash clothes at that temperature, we thought to use fabric,” says Aparicio. “It’s so much cheaper to be able to sew your own mold, not to mention faster and easier to change. It’s more like drawing, in a way.” The mold gets packed completely full with granules.