Adventures in Foam

dreams are foams

In Adventures in Foam, Patrick Rampelotto searches for new forms and strategies in connection with an unusual material: polypropylene foam. The idea behing his work is loosely based on Claude Lévi-Strauss’s concept of “bricolage,” a non-predetermined process, a course of action with possible deviations. Rampelotto also created a filmic work for this exhibition which, underlaid with original quotations from Claude Lévi-Strauss’ The Savage Mind (La pensée sauvage, 1962), focuses on the design process itself and afford viewers a glimpse behind the scenes of the exhibited objects’ production.

MAK – Museum of Applied Arts

Curator – Marlies Wirth

Photo © MAK

Rampelotto hit upon the polypropylene foam used in his most recent works in early 2010: it is produced using a special machine which was developed and patented as a pilot unit to produce new kinds of sandwich components for the machine and vehicle industries by Hammerschmid Maschinenbau GmbH, located near Linz. This material must be heated to a temperature of 140°C and then processed within minutes, since it quickly solidifies and assumes a stable shape as it cools off. It is a synthetic material which is both foamable and translucent. Hammerschmid agreed to give the young designer access to both the machine and their technician.

Adventures in Foam was an opportunity to experiment with polypropylene foam in a way that is artistically free and unburdened by considerations of product utility. The foam objects thus created represent the golden thread running through an experimental design which offers solutions without predetermining them and without claiming to produce a market-ready final product. Rampelotto speaks of a type of “sketching,” on the basis of which a product can then be developed further. He thinks that a lampshade conceived for this exhibition, for example, has the potential to be produced in series.