Merdacotta is a new building material made from recycled cow dung.

Can You Guess the Main Ingredient in the Building Material “Merdacotta”?

Can You Guess the Main Ingredient in the Building Material “Merdacotta”?

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
April 13 2016 8:23 AM

Can You Guess the Main Ingredient in the Building Material “Merdacotta”?

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These floor tiles (and toilet sculpture) are made from cow dung.

Henrik Blomqvist

Merdacotta is a new building material created by the Museo Della Merda, a museum dedicated to the artistic, scientific, and eco-friendly possibilities of recycled dung that opened last year on the Castelbosco dairy farm in northern Italy. The terra cotta–like substance has been developed for use in making tiles, flower pots, and more, with examples currently on display until Sunday as part of Milan Design Week.

“The substance of all the products is the material that they are made of, which is mostly shit,” the museum writes in a press release, adding that Merdacotta is made from a mix of dry cow dung, straw, farm waste, and Tuscan clay. Merdacotta is “a material which brings together the museum's principles of transformation and sustainability,” they write, to “turn shit into everyday objects and thoughts” and “essential elements of contemporary living.”

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Henrik Blomqvist

Dried dairy cow dung, which is purified of methane and urea, relieving it of its stench, is mixed with Tuscan clay to produce the new material, which is the collective brainchild of Gianantonio Locatelli, the owner-farmer of Castelbosco, and architect Luca Cipelletti, the museum’s designer and creative director.

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Henrik Blomqvist

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Unlike contemporary industrial terra cotta, they argue, Merdacotta produces a more handcrafted look. Merdacotta flower pots are “much lighter and more resistant to the cold than similar products in terracotta,” they write, adding that the surface is “rougher and more natural.” A series of “Shit” bowls, plates, and mugs have been covered in a nonlead transparent glaze, then fired at about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to render them suitable for contact with food and drink.

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Henrik Blomqvist

You can browse the entire Merdacotta catalog here.

Somewhat related: Decorative objects made from human hair.

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.