Seetal Solanki: Why Materials Matter

Since her interview for Clove 01, materials and design expert Seetal Solanki has published a new book that explores how materials have the potential to solve the major environmental issues we face today.

Courtesy of Seetal Solanki.

Courtesy of Seetal Solanki.

For Clove 01, Seetal Solanki spoke to us about her project to explore her ancestral identity through material culture. Tracing the results of a DNA test, she hoped to explore mud-resist painting in Gujarat’s salt plains and how materials travelled from Afghanistan to South Asia along the spice trail. Her new book, Why Materials Matter tackles an important question with ancient material practices in mind: “What does it mean to live in a material world, and how do materials of the past and present hold the keys to our future?”.

Examining innovative projects by artists, scientists and designers, she demonstrates how contemporary applications of ancient practices can have surprising results, and offers a way forward to a renewable and earth-friendly material culture. “Architectural joinery techniques applied to marble off-cut furniture pieces enables the marble elements to be assembled and disassembled easily,” she says by way of example. “A very traditional way of making at a large scale”.

Solanki’s project to trace her ancestry from the UK to east Africa, India, Afghanistan and beyond had an impact on her new book, she says, and culture plays a significant role in the emotional connection we have with materials. “The DNA of something or someone tells us a lot about where they come from, and from that knowledge we can understand where they might be going. These fundamental principles lie within each of us and the things that surround us.”

Buy Clove 01 to read our full profile of Seetal Solanki