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In search of Ethereal Design: presenting cored ores

cored ores is a collection of lighting objects, conceived and fabricated by bloc collective, a group of three local designers who have since 2017, been developing a design practice which brings together their individual aspirations and methods.

Photographs by Marija Grech for bloc at saintpaulvalletta by Mark Pace

The collection, put forward by bloc as a play between the ‘incidental and the intentional,’ emerges as an exploration into extraction and processing of natural stone, centred around the act of coring.

As is observed through the collective’s greater portfolio of work, ranging from product development and fabrication to fashion and set design, their approach is borne out of a thorough understanding of materials and tooling techniques, resulting in objects and events expressive of the carefully tailored processes through which they are brought to life.

With cored ores, bloc’s attitude towards working with natural stone is twofold, fluctuating between the deliberate and the coincidental, the machined and the raw – with emitted light mediating the two.   

Blocks of solid Carrara and terrazzo are purposefully cored, forming cavities to house lighting electronics. A brass plate insert and bulb sit side by side, a relationship shifting between illumination and reflection, aura and shadow. The compositions boldly ask to be moved and rotated, their sculptural qualities allowing them to elegantly illuminate an array of spaces within the house, in whichever orientation they land. 

Characterised by unique circular cut outs and markings, traces of a coring process undergone at the quarrying stage, the second series of the collection celebrates fragments of raw marble discards, deemed to be a waste product of the industry.

Jagged marble strips and a contrasting crisp edged brass plate bound diagonal strips of light. At studied incline bridging horizontal and vertical, the emitted light flirts with the architectural planes of floor and wall.

Through their debut collection, Andrew, Mike and Nick’s architectural roots and penchant for storytelling shine through, as they present pieces which fashion themselves as a series of gestures, negotiating between object and space, the decorative and ambient, the familiar and novel.

bloc come across as favouring a light touch over the overly prescriptive, masterfully putting together objects and moments which speak of their influences, while seeking to open up opportunities for future stories to unfold. 

In a Maltese scene characterised by pastiche, where the garishly nostalgic passes as traditional, where entity comes at the price of identity, this work positions itself as a measured attempt at realigning our shared aesthetic values, prompting conversations which we desperately need to be having, promising a rekindling of a design ethic which is of our time, and of our place. 

Jean Ebejer is a design architect and researcher at Valentino Architects.

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