The Collector’s Box

— Soil Projects

Atelier NL became familiar with an incredible diversity of sands during their sand journey. Through experimentation with various types of sand that hold no interest for manufacturers, Atelier NL pushes the conventions of the glass industry, which currently uses only pure white sands. The glass made from wild sand reveals a wide array of colours, patterns, and textures. Each collector's box in Atelier NL's collection represents a contextual archive of a particular sand, featuring glass samples, geographical information, materials characteristic to the site, geological data, chemical composition, and photographs. 

The inspiration for The Collector’s Box came when Atelier NL was asked by geologist Richard Fortey to visualize the material transformation of one square meter of earth from Grym’s Dyke Wood for his new book, ‘The Wood for the Trees’. The flint sparked as it was crushed and ground into a fine powder. When exposed to high temperatures, the flint powder melted into white, green, and bluish glass. The tough earth, kneaded, cleaned, and dried, was then exposed to a gradation of extreme temperatures. A bold array of pigments and ceramic tiles resulted, ranging from warm creamy brown to rich peat. In one small patch of ground in Grym’s Dyke Wood, Atelier NL found all of the resources to make a variety of paints, pigments, ceramic tiles, and glass. Fortey's approach to geology and botany is closely related to Atelier NL's design methodology. He explores the stories of the land, and Atelier NL visualizes them by design. Since their original meeting in London in 2009, Atelier NL and Richard Fortey have been collaborators through a shared passion for nature and the stories it has to tell.