Cocoon by Måns Salomonsen

Måns Salomonsen is a 24-year-old Swedish design student at the university Stenebyskolan. He is studying wood oriented furniture design and will take his BA exam in the spring 2011. Måns has his craft base in wood but like to explore new materials and their qualities.

We first posted his hanging herb planter and fruit storage container called Cocoon back in February. We received so much great feedback about it that we decided to ask Måns to share with us the process of creating the Cocoon.

Cocoon is the outcome of a design competition to exhibit at the Stockholm Furniture Fair this past February. We had to come up with a concept for fruit and vegetable storage for kitchen environment that would encourage and inspire people to use more fresh groceries. We collaborated with Ekolådan, a company in Järna (Sweden) who delivers ecological food to the door. The concept should be a product that could fit within their business area and fit into a home of their customer. My concept was one of the chosen ones to be exhibited at the fair.

Here, I’ll share with you the steps of my process — from sketch to scale 1:1 prototype.

When I got the idea to create a hanging storage to save countertop space, I started out with some simple sketches of different versions of storage. Single drop/cocoon, merged drops, with and without plant growing space and so on.

After having some ideas about how it could be I changed the sketch medium to metal wire to get a better clue about the shape and its appearance in the room.

The metal wire was a fairly fast way to get the some volume and size; I also tried to cover the structures in clay and in paper mache to get some closed surfaces.

Then, to get the size right I went to the actual space for the object, a kitchen. Using a whiteboard pen I was drawing different sizes and shapes on my kitchen window blinds as a fast way to try out different versions.

When I had worked out roughly what I wanted in terms of look and size, I cut out the shape in foam. With foam, I got the chance to cut out a form that was close to want I wanted. To get a more precise final result before casting the shape, I covered the foam in clay so that I could sculpt the last adjustments.

After achieving the desired shape, I cast my model in plaster to create a concave mould. The deadline for the project was getting closer, so I tried to speed up the drying of the mould with hot air.

When the moulds were dry, I had some big lumps of clay that I rolled out to big sheets that had to be a bit thicker then on the final piece to aloud the material to shrink when drying.

The big sheets of clay then had to be carefully shaped inside of the plaster mould and cut even around the edges.

When the clay was in place, it had to slowly dry for a few days to get firm enough to keep its shape when I took it out of the mould.

The trays for the herbs were sculpted separately and then the two halves were joined together.

The opening in the front were cut open by free hand, so the three models I made all have a bit of their own character.

When the models were totally dry, I sprayed white glaze with airbrush on one of them and the other two got their surface rugged with a steel brush. The glazed one was fired twice and the other once.

I finished them the day before we had to leave for the furniture fair. During the whole making process of the project I had my fingers crossed that nothing should go wrong, especially because it was my first time making objects in clay.

In the end two pieces, one glazed and one neutral were exhibited.

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.