Jesper Eriksson Explores the Future of Coal in Interior Design

Swedish Artist and Designer Jesper Eriksson explores a speculative future for coal as an organic material for architecture and interior design in ‘Coal: Post-Fuel’ Coal is traditionally seen as a completely functional raw material; its value is derived solely from its own destruction.

The project considers whether this cheap and dirty fossil fuel has a more complex emotional significance – particularly in Britain – and whether it has an alternative future as a desirable material. Problematic, glorious, scandalous, essential—coal has many facets to it. Coal has sustained communities and enabled technological progress, all the while polluting and harming health of those who work it.

In this way, its image is transformed from a fuel that releases carbon dioxide to a material that encloses it. The installation contains flooring, furniture and other objects in solid coal – Britain’s most iconic material. Some pieces are left in the material’s raw state, others are processed into a finish similar to black marble. By changing the material’s aesthetic, a debate opens up about our relationship to this utilitarian substance: If the idea of coal as a building material is accepted, how and why does a coal mine differ from a marble quarry? Can we not begin to call the mine a coal quarry? This future narrative is intentionally problematic.

Video by Shôta Sakami,
Graphics by Miriam Bröckel,
Design Strategy by Lia Forslund.
First presented as the Swedish Pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2018, Somerset House, London.