Heyddw: Privet Studio Mixtura

Every other week we celebrate one of the most interesting, exciting, intriguing, funny or unusual #heyddw Instagram posts by featuring an exclusive interview in our online DDW Magazine. This time, we chatted with our office neighbour Daria Biryukova, from Studio Mixtura.
Daria Biryukova at work
Carissa ten Tije
Hi Daria! Could you briefly describe who you are, where you are from and why you’ve started your design studio?

I am Daria from Studio Mixtura. I have worked on sustainable material research for several years and call myself a design alchemist. I was born in Russia and studied in Moscow, Vienna, and Eindhoven. After my exchange semester at Design Academy Eindhoven, I decided to permanently move to the Netherlands and start my design studio (ed. Studio Mixtura) here. I was impressed by the Dutch approach towards design and the Dutch attitude towards research and collaborations.

Crystal plates
Studio Mixtura
You used #heyddw on Instagram to share a sneak peek of your new glaze collection. The growing crystals and pigmented mirrors got us excited. Can you tell us a bit more about what’s new?

I am fascinated by working with waste materials. In this sneak peek you see the glaze that I created using the waste streams of glass. A crystal and mirror effect in glazes is usually very particular and difficult to achieve. I was very positively surprised that I could manage to create recipes that are 80 percent based on recycled glass. Besides that, I am using the fine waste powders coming from the quarrying of natural stones. Believe me, there is a lot of waste annually per quarry, tons and tons...

On your website you describe design as a ’powerful treatment’. How so?

Design can change the regular way of things. It can make society look at a problem 'upside down, around and underneath'. With my projects, I try to show people how much value and aesthetics are hidden in mineral residues and waste in general. It is just a matter of how you look at it. In that sense, design is a powerful treatment, by getting it right, things can become more sustainable.

What is the most special or remarkable work you have ever made or designed?

Since my studio is only 4 years old and all of my projects are still in the process of development, it is difficult to speak about remarkable work. Innovation is never easy and sometimes takes a long time to be adopted by the industry. I think recent projects FORZ®Glaze, a collaboration with Renewi Mineralz, and Geo Slate, have the most potential.

Where do you look for inspiration?

It is funny to say, but every time I visit a company or a factory, I ask them to show me the 'waste container'. I can always find hidden treasures there and from those discoveries many questions arise. If you dig a little deeper, you discover the whole cycle, including the side products (waste) deserving the attention of a designer.  

In response to the emerging coronavirus, many design events are cancelled and the number of commissions is noticeably decreasing for many designers. What impact has it had on you so far and how do you look to the future?

Coronavirus did affect my studio work, but also in a positive way. I got a lot more free time to think about future projects, to slow down, and see what really interests me. I made some spontaneous experiments for which I usually do not have the time. The crystal mirrors are an example of such an experiment. Now I definitely will work further on it, also after the pandemic.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I am working on the Slot Lab, which is a project for Slot Schaesberg for which I was asked to design a sustainable alternative for their slate roof tiles. I collect all the data in one research book, which will soon also be published online. Besides that, I am a part of the Yksi Expo team. We are currently working on an exciting exhibition Rethinking Plastic that will open to the public 2 September.

You participated in a What if Lab with ProRail and NS quite recently. Could you explain a bit more about the challenge and project you designed for it?

Last year, my studio was selected and invited to create a design proposal for a circular product regarding the What if Lab with NS and Prorail . My challenge question was: 'What If we can control, guide nature in a positive way?' It is possible if we can create a special environment for regional plants and climate adaptive systems for the train stations. For my proposal, I looked into the standard 30x30cm concrete tile that is commonly used in the stations and around. Using concrete is very unsustainable, but plenty of these tiles end up as waste. I proposed to redesign, repurpose, refurbish, reuse, or recycle the standard tile, and encapsulate it in a new sustainable profile that would give more space for regional biodiversity.

The project tackles very diverse topics and I am looking for possible partners, biologist and landscape architects, to further develop this concept.

If you were able to choose anyone in the world to work with (a designer, politician, artist, scientist or someone else), who would that be and why?

Recently my dream came true. I have always wanted to collaborate with a research university, and I was lucky enough to receive attention from TU Delft for my project Geo Slate. I think it will be very interesting to realise a combination of scientific and design approaches within the material research. Although we cannot start right away, it will definitely be an exciting journey; hopefully with promising results!

Do you have any news you would like to share with the DDW community?

If you are a material designer with a recent work concerning plastic and the challenges related to this material, Rethinking Plastic at Yksi Expo might be a great platform to present your work.

Hey Designer! Do you also want to be featured on our website? Use #heyddw on Instagram, and who knows, you might be next!