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What is Luxury?

What is Luxury? - Object in Focus: Rare Earthenware by Unknown Fields Division

Rare Earthenware, Unknown Fields Division with ceramicist Kevin Callaghan, 2014–5, black stoneware and radioactive mine tailings, © Toby Smith

Rare Earthenware, Unknown Fields Division with ceramicist Kevin Callaghan, 2014–5, black stoneware and radioactive mine tailings, © Toby Smith

While journeys to extraordinary places are the cornerstone of luxury travel, this project follows more well-concealed journeys taking place across global supply chains. It retraces rare earth elements, which are widely used in high end electronics and green technologies, to their origins. The film documents their voyage from container ships and ports, wholesalers and factories, back to the banks off a barely-liquid radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia, where the refining process takes place. Unknown Fields Division have used mud from this lake to craft a set of three ceramic vessels. Each is sized in relation to the amount of waste created in the production of three items of technology – a smartphone, a featherweight laptop and the cell of a smart car battery. Each is described by the designers as a testament to ‘the toxic shadow that our everyday objects cast across the earth’.


Unknown Fields Division is run by Liam Young and Kate Davies and is based at the Architectural Association.

Visit Unknown Fields Division's website

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Northacre, the noble force in landmark residential development, has been at the forefront of the revival and development of buildings of historical significance and stature for over 25 years. Northacre’s reputation is built on its intrinsic understanding of luxury combined with a passionate attention to detail and working with the finest craftsmen, values that chime with the content of What is Luxury?

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