Dutch Designer Shows How Magnetism Can Create Unusual Architecture

Arts & Culture

Jolan Van der Wiel's Magnetism Meets Architecture project features a series of ceramic objects that were shaped using magnetism.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 15 july 2014

Dutch experimental designer Jólan Van der Wiel is working with magnetism to create fascinating artistic pieces made of metallic clay.

For his Magnetism Meets Architecture project, the Amsterdam-based designer has crafted a series of ceramic objects that were shaped via a technique that uses the principles of magnetism.

Van der Wiel starts creating the ceramic models by first adding water to clay to create slip, which is a cream-like suspension of clay particles in water. Slip is in a liquid state, which allows it to be poured into a mold to create objects from it. Van der Wiel adds metal powder to make the slip magnetic, and then uses a nozzle to build ceramic models on a rotating surface. A magnetic field is passed through the object to create an opposing force to gravity – making the slip draw upward and keeping it suspended as it dries and hardens.


Van der Wiel told Dezeen,

Gaudi’s small model of La Sagrada Familia was quite inspiring for this project. He used gravity to calculate the final shape of the building. I thought, ‘What if he had to power the turn off the gravitational field for a while?’ Then he could have made the building straight up.

The designer’s Magnetism Meets Architecture project is part of an ongoing research on the applications of magnetic forces, which the designer conducted at the European Ceramic Workcentre in Den Bosch.

Van der Wiel is now exploring how this technique of using magnetism to defy gravity can be applied to the field of architecture on a larger scale, allowing architects to use natural forces to shape buildings and objects in the future.


The designer first started experimenting with magnetism while studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam. He graduated in 2011 and founded his design studio on the same year. He has collaborated with designer Iris van Herpen to create a line of magnetic dresses which were shown in Paris as part of van Herpen’s Autumn Winter 2013 fashion show. He has also created other products shaped with magnets, including a gravity stool, candle holder, side table, and bowl.

See how the designer creates his ceramic objects above.

Jólan van der Wiel


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