Roca’s 3d-printed ceramic exhibition engaged milan visitors in conversations about circularity

April 29, 2024
2 min
2 min

©Marcela Grassi


To celebrate the launch of the world’s first electric tunnel kiln for the production of sanitaryware ceramics in Gmunden, Austria, Roca teamed up with Mario Cucinella Architects (MCA) to create an activation at Fuorisalone Interni ‘Cross Vision’ Università degli Studi di Milano during Milan Design Week. Titled ‘Sparking Change’, the installation captured the brand’s steps towards achieving net-zero and circular production. The exhibition was used as a spatial tool to help users better understand the innovative technology and its implications. MCA configured 1,200 3D-printed, modular ceramic blocks, made of 50 per cent recycled ceramics, in a parabolic shape and colour gradient to reflect the operating temperatures of the ceramic firing process. Beyond its materiality, the installation reflected the manufacturer’s circularity initiatives through its modular, reusable nature. ‘The design ensures that the installation isn’t just a one-time deal, but the components and materials can be reassembled in different sites in a different shape to represent the same or different topics,’ says Lori Zillante of MCA who co-led the project with Lapo Naldoni.

Technology was central to the design and execution of the collaboration. It demonstrated how the brand is using traditional ceramic material in a new, innovative way driven by technology. ‘From the 3D-printing technology to assembly, the entire installation lends itself to a digital logic,’ explains Naldoni. ‘This technology-driven approach optimizes the number of blocks and the pattern, allowing us to achieve the cantilevered, interlocking pattern.’ Besides using technology to design and configure the installation, an augmented reality aspect allowed visitors to immerse themselves in an interactive experience to learn more about the benefits of Roca’s new zero-carbon tunnel kiln.


In form and function, Sparking Change reflected Roca’s sustainability values. Its playful design is intended to ignite discussions of and interactions with the topic more generally. ‘The shape originally emerged from the operative temperature of the kiln, but we started to play with the shape to create something that can attract people to explore the space,’ Naldoni says. ‘We sought to create an ambience that allows for a variety of uses, from promoting discussions of sustainability to allowing a space for children to play.’ The use of 3D printing technology allows for the future reuse of the stand’s components but also shows how the brand is harnessing technology to reflect its commitment to circularity. The colourful, playful space managed to engage visitors with the difficult, yet salient topic in a more palatable way, demonstrating how brands can help catalyze behavioural and attitudinal changes.