Unique, handmade jewelry and sculptures made using reclaimed Irn Bru cans.
Surprised with the amounts of flat can in the streets of Glasgow, Merel Bekking began collecting all the Irn Bru cans she would find on het daily commute. After collecting well over 1400 empty Irn Bru cans, Merel melted them all down to liquid aluminium, which she used to cast new sustainable miniature brooches and busts using the lost-foam technique. One street-found can gives about 10 grams useable aluminium. Every brooch, every head is hand-made and unique.
Cards and prints of flat cans were sold to fund this project.
5% of every sold aluminium object will go to the anti-littering campaign Keep Scotland Beautiful.
2019 - 2020
Colour, Life and Light
The Things I Need
Borrowing techniques from taxidermy, Bekking created new objects by sculpting a body around a wire-framework. Instead of using traditional materials, Bekking “stuffed” her designs with her own personal non-recyclable dry waste like single-use plastics, food packaging and the occasional torn nylon stocking. As an outer-skin she covered the bodies with bright, colourful layers of yellow, orange and red environmentally-friendly resins, finishing with a high gloss protecting layer. Instead of discarding her waste at the city council dumpsites, where it will survive unchanged until the end of time, Bekking immortalizes her rubbish in joyful, bold designer objects.
Hyper-individual design made using fMRI scanners
In this project, Merel Bekking applied her established research and design method Brain_manufacturing to just one individual, Marcus Fairs. In 2015, Fairs, design journalist and founder of online design magazine Dezeen, spent an hour in a MRI scanner. Using the results obtained by this process, Bekking created a hyper-individual design. Interested to find out what happens if you have to live with an object that you like subconsciously, but consciously have other feelings about, Bekking placed the chair in Fairs living room.
Once confronted with the chair based on his subconscious preferences Fairs was happily surprised. Even though still somewhat hesitant, his initial reaction was definitely a positive one. Four months later Bekking returned and things had turned for the worst. ”Just after you left it, I think I took a violent dislike to it” Fairs told Bekking. He explained that even though he tried to like it, and he appreciated the idea behind it, he just couldn’t seem to find anything positive about it.
Curious about this project and want to learn more about why you cant force relationships whit objects, even if they are hyper-individual objects, scientifically based on your personal brain activation? More information can be found here.
2015 - 2016
fMRI based design
In the design process product designers have to make a series of important choices. Three of these choices have the greatest impact on the final design; material, color and shape. In this project, Merel has excluded her own personal preferences and taste, and has designed purely based on scientific research, using results obtained with an MRI scanner.
Bekking collaborated with The Spinoza Center and Dr. Steven Scholte, associate professor at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). They performed research using an MRI scanner to find out what people experience as beautiful and ugly, like or dislike, in materials, shapes and colors. This particular form of MRI records changes in blood flow in the brain of participants who for example are shown pictures, allowing the scientists to register if a person likes or dislikes a particular image.
This procedure was used in human volunteers who were put in an MRI scanner for an hour and where shown types of textures, different colors, different shapes and other images. Using different scientific models Dr. Scholte was able to create a list of likes and dislikes for these three main design choices: red, plastic, and closed organic shapes.
Based on these results Bekking created red plastic side tables, mirrors, bowl and many more everyday household products.
More information can be found here.
2013 - 2014
A series of lamps made from leftover materials
Leftover Lamps is a series of lamps, all made out of scraps and leftover materials from previous projects and experiments. When Merel Bekking left the Netherlands to live abroad for several years, she had to clear out her studio. Realizing she had built up a huge amount of leftover materials over the years she wanted to use as much as she could. Not bothered by the appropriate purpose, handling techniques or expiration dates she set of the create unexpected lightning objects.