Material Diversity – Balance Bowls by Designer Joel Escalona
Presented in 2018, the Balance Bowls are a limited-edition series by furniture and product designer Joel Escalona that reflect the diversity of Mexican craftsmanship and local tradition. Both functional and conceptual, the Balance Bowls are examples of playful design that explore the creative balance of different materials through a sense of uncertainty and movement.
The Balance Bowls series consists of ten bowls made from ten different materials – silver, glass, marble, ceramic, clay, pewter, obsidian, copper, wood and lava stone. Each piece has the same typology, three bowls of the same shape but of different sizes, seemingly balance on top of one another. There is a constant tension surrounding them as if they are caught in the moment before collapsing.
The project has allowed Escalona to work with many different workshops and industries across Mexico and is an example of the variety of techniques that can be found across the country. Each material comes with a different set of challenges and requires someone with a specialised skillset to be able to work them. Wood needs a carpenter, glass needs a glassblower, copper needs a blacksmith, clay needs a ceramicist and so on. Each material, and the craftsmanship behind it, lies a history of tradition and culture. In the pre-Columbian period, bowls, utensils and statues were commonly made out of lava stone while clay was also used to make figurines, pots and vessels. It makes you think about the continuation of a practice that’s over 4000 years old and how histories (of craftsmanship) are constantly being created.
The Balance Bowls are testament to Escalona’s ability as a designer to create a consistently high-quality collection of products and are examples of excellent Mexican craftsmanship and local savoir-faire.