The Bone Project

A scenario to establish bone as a useful and acceptable material, for product applications.


The aim of the project is to create awareness for the current issues arising from the disposal of bone, and the roles designers can play to resolve them.

The project will focus around an overall scenario for the integration of bone.  This scenario will document the key factors which need to be overcome to have bone accepted by society, and present a route to achieve it. 


  The Scenario  

The scenario revolves around three different professions: artisans, chemical scientists and engineers.  Each tackle different issues surrounding the integration of bone.

The artisans deal with ways to overcome the stigma associated with the material, using it to craft objects which present the bone as desirable and valuable.

The chemical scientists investigate the ability of whole bone to remediate hazardous substances.  The aim of which is to find a specialist role for  the material.

The engineers aim to make bone suitable for large scale applications and mass production.



  Degree Show  

The final degree show piece will embody the key aspects of the scenario, and showcase how these developments could be utilized in product design.

The scenario will be presented in four different sections.  A common product (wrist watch) will be used to indicate the impact that particular section will have on the use of bone within product design.

A watch was chosen as it was small enough to be made from whole bone, yet was iconic and recognisable. It was suitable for the science section as it contains a hazardous battery, but could also be presented in a craft context.  However, due to the small scale of the watches, the electronics components will be contained in the watch stands, rather than embedding them in the watches themselves.

Additionally, the layout of the four sections will not necessarily be linear, and will likely be arranged to reference the final integration scenario.


This section will highlight the economic and environmental implications of the way bone is currently disposed of.  It will consist of some samples of bone on display, and a small text description.  The key to this section is not to shock the viewer, as this may affect their overall perception of the exhibit.  The bone samples will therefore be presented in an optimistic manner, against the backdrop of a blue sky.


This section will showcase how bone could be utilized in a craft context, and the ways which bone can be treated to make it desirable.  I intend to commission a number of designer-makers from the local Wasps Studios to create samples of bone which are desireable.  These will be showcased alongside an analogue wristwatch, in which the hands are recessed within rings of bone.  I intend to make the design, narrower and more elegant, than the one illustrated. 




This section will be used to symbolise the unique metal remediation properties of bone.  It will consist of a number of test-tube shaped, bone capsules, which are corked and contain batteries.  These capsules will be made from the porous, ‘spongy’ bone samples. 

The accompanying wristwatch is designed so that the electronics are fully encased in a bone ‘barrier’.  The watch will consist of a flat section of bone, embedded in a leather strap.  The section of bone will be hollowed on the underside.  A wide angle LED will be placed behind the watch hands, within the bone, creating a silhouette on the external face.  The bone will appear lifeless until it is placed in shadow by the user.  


This section will promote the use of bone for mass applications.  This may be presented in one of two ways, depending on time and resources:

1. Laser sintering (illustrated) will consist of a laser suspended above a tray of bone powder.  The laser pen will be animated by attaching it to a plotter.  There will be a half watch casing in the powder.

2. Bone moulding, using an existing mould and coating it with a bone like substance.

 The bottom of this section will be lined with bone laminate. 

The wristwatch for this section will be made from bone china.  As with real bone, bone china is also translucent.  Therefore this watch will also use the silhouette affect. 

It will be designed it two parts, and will have exaggerated, extruding dimples to place emphasis on its mould ability.  The strap for this watch will be made of a synthetic material, such as rubber.


As well as creating the showpiece described above, I also intend to refine the scenario through discussion with experts such as economist, John Dewhurst, Mike Press, Hazel White, Robert Keatch and Soil Scientist Mark Hodson.

Copyright Andrew Ross 2008