” In ancient times salt was rare and costly. Yet, since the industrial revolution, it has become so cheap and easily available that we longer recognise its value. Marbled salt questions the value of materials attached to a certain social status, and how they convey a certain social reproduction; but also the material value of things, if they are worth lasting or not, in an increasingly globalized and immaterial world.”
– Roxane Lahidji, February 2018
My initial introduction to the somewhat alchemy informed and sustainable design practice of Roxane Lahidji began with an encounter of her stunning salt stools at Dutch Design Week 2017 where they were showcased as part of the Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show.
Lahidji draws on the transmutational qualities of materials by turning common salt into something more precious. Historically, alchemists turned base metals into gold, toady she turns common salt into marble-like stools in a body of work titled ‘Marble Salts’. These stools are also a poetic gesture drawing on the history of the mineral’s rarity and costliness, and not widely available and inexpensive as it is today.
Using salt as a medium for design objects began when Lahidji partook in a workshop in Arles, France part of a Social Design Masters in collaboration with the LUMA Foundation. The Atelier LUMA Arles Design platform promotes using local resources and knowledge to trigger local economies and stimulate education. She began researching salt as a local and fundamental resource of Camargue since Roman Antiquity, and emphasised her research on the abundance of the mineral. Lahidji explores new possibilities of this most common mineral by reinventing it as a sustainable design material. By making use of its unique self-binding properties mixed with tree resin, and coal powder, the furniture mimics marble thus creating a ‘contradictory parallel between the flexible versatility of salt and the material language of heavy and solid rock.’ The project overall invites viewers into a discussion on the concept of value systems as a social construct − and the costs implied by products we consume.
Roxane Lahidji was born in Paris in 1992 and grew up in the French capital before studying illustration and product design in Strasbourg (HEAR). After her Bachelor (with distinction), she pursued her research for new design values in Design Academy Eindhoven and graduated from the Social Design Master department in June 2017.