Outcasts: Hands on Material and Process

Mr. David Schafer

Introduction :

Within the realm of industrial production the focused pursuit of a tightly defined outcome often results in overlooked opportunities for discovery. However my studio’s design process is tightly bound, inseparable in fact, from the making process, therefore our focus is wide and ideally omniscient. Some of our most interesting design developments come from within our fervent workshops rather than our composed studios; we discover things in-hand that could not have been know on-screen. 

Recently while sand casting rigid geometric aluminum elements for one project we witnessed the birth of a new project. Excess material from the pouring basing and casting gates gradually alluded to functionality as the original elements were prepped and processed. This “cast off” material was elevated to a functional object; handles that are certainly capable of operating but more importantly excel at connecting the hand to the process of their origins and the true nature of their material roots. We are constantly on the lookout for something new and unimaginable that can be derived from a process that’s old and predictable.  

Key words: Craft, Empirical Design, Aluminum Casting, Handles, Materiality 


To examine how “non-designed” objects can exhibit design qualities and communicate latent potentials. To create opportunities for positive side-effects. To find unique beauty at the edges of the industrial process. To hone our design sensibilities in the conceptualization process by understanding our discover process (what we can “see” helps us develop what we can “think”). 


These door handles are the result of sand casting aluminum. The aluminum casting gates and overspill from pouring the molten aluminum result in the regular spaced cylinders joined with the irregular surface shape.   The results were then trimmed from the intended casting, cleaned and sent for a color anodized finish.

Techniques and Materials: