Author: Emilia Knabe

Mori – Exploring the moiré effect



Mori is an object that explores the unknown. Asking the question what is the unknown in our times I came across the digital world and the GIF (short for Graphical Interchange Format) as a kind of visual epitome of it.
The digital surrounds us every day in our hands by the way of smartphones or on screens on our way to work, but only few know how the technology behind it really works.

Porcelain on the other hand is an ancient material used in craftsmanship which use originated in China over 2000 years ago. It is known for its delicateness and exclusivity and has little modern character to its reputation. Contrasting these two sides of the digital and the material of porcelain, I  asked myself how the flickering moiré effect of the GIF can be transferred to porcelain. I find it interesting how the haptic depth can be created in two dimensions with this effect and
applied the same concept to an object made from a traditonal craft.

The name Mori refers to the moiré effect as well as to the latin word „mos“ which can be translated as custom or ritual. Whether used as a lamp, as a hanging or standing object, Mori encourages an interaction that combines the haptic and the visual.


Form and Structure














As first test, I started off with Limoges without pigments and tried out different grids inspired by Carsten Nicolais extensive catalogue of Moirè grids and their variants. I decided for Limoges instead of Montblanch or hard porcelain for its easier way of using it. The effect could be seen the best with more slanted slats with smaller gaps in between. It was a question of balancing the visibility of the effect and the stability of the form. I built a cutting aid of foam in order to keep the porcelain from breaking. I experimented with different cutting knives and found a stright bladed scalpel to be the most useful one.

Relatively early in the process, I decided to use black pigments in the porcelain liquid in order to increase the visual effect and move away from the pure whiteness and therefore attached associations to traditional porcelain.




Making of the Plaster Form







The difficulties that I encountered in making the negative plaster mold were that firstly the form was relatively big since the shrinking factor of 14% had to be added to the measurements so it was hard to handle and that I had to change the form several times in order to allow for a draft angle. I made a two piece negative form which made it easy to get out the porcelain piece after a few hours of waiting.

Form finding


The form came into being by asking myself what would be the most suitable form for the structure. Since the moiré effect is achieved by overlapping two grids, I came up with a cylindrical form which encompasses the structure and is suitable for the material of porcelain.

My initial idea was to make a vessel, an object which stands on the table and can hold pens and function as an organizing object. The visual effect would be reduced, however, so I thought further and came to the conclusion that it would make the most sense to make an object where the focus lies on the visual aspect, in this case a lampshade.


First models


First lamp shade models: since I wanted to put the focus on the structure, I decided to hide the light bulb itself in the upper part. From a simple conical cylinder I arrived at the form of two stacked cylinders of different diametres since then the single stripes of the grid are parrallel and don’t become more broad at the bottom of the lamp shade.


Deciding whether the lamp shade could be multi purpose for use as a pendant lamp and as a table lamp, I decided that the material of porcelain is too delicate to use it as a table lamp.




Lasered Porcelain Foil / Schellack Tiles

As one part of the experiment, I lasered tiles with different patterns on to porcelain foil of 1mm thickness to first create the Moiré effect in flat before going ahead to shaping it into a form. The effect could be seen already in a non-fired state. The challenge here is to keep them in a flat state after firing.

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As a second experiment, I am using the Schellack technique to make grids on tiles. The difference here is that I am working with the translucency of the material rather than cutting out some of it. Going further, I will develop several shapes for an object depending on the outcome of the experiments.


Moiré: from 2D to 3D

Asking myself how I can transport the Moiré effect from 2D to 3D, I came across various ways in which the effect is used in a three-dimensional way:

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Moiré pattern model made from white elastic string on wooden frames.

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Rendering of a model made from 5mm thick aluminium profiles for a car presentation.


Quick paper model. Find the video here: Moire Model

The next steps will be to make a models with different patterns lasered in ceramic foil and models poured by hand and thinned out with Schellack to find out which technique and patterns work best in creating the effect.




First cast of the plaster form.



Experiment to find out how quickly porcelain dries out


Experiment to fill the form with drops of porcelain liquid












Experimenting with Baking Soda (80 grams for 1l of porcelain liquid)




GIFs vs. Porcelain

Not only is our contemporary society based on mathematical and scientific models but also pervaded by the digital. It surrounds us every day but only a few really know how the software behind it works.

How can a kind of visual epitome of the digital, the GIF, short for Graphics Interchange Format, be transferred to porcelain? I came across the GIFs by Canadian artist Nicolas Sassoon. They give the computer screen some haptic depth. I find it interesting how this depth can be created on a flat screen and want to apply the same concept to porcelain.




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Voronoi Tesselation

While asking myself what exactly it is nowadays that is not previously loaded with direct associations, I came across mathematical models. I feel that nowadays we live in a world built on science, thoughts and actions are legitimized by scientific findings to the point where science has more weight than ethical or intuitive knowledge. A model that stood out to me for its specific structure was the Voronoi tessselation named after Ukrainian mathematician Georgy Voronoy:

In a Voronoi pattern, every point within a given region is closer to the “seed” inside that region than it is to any other point outside that region. Each point along a region’s edge is equidistant from the two nearest seeds. It’s seen in places ranging from cracked mud to giraffe skin to foamy bubbles. Voronoi patterns can help solve geometric problems like packing, strategic placements  and patterns of growth.


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