Meet Merdacotta, terracotta’s (shitty) little brother, made by the Museo Della Merda (The Shit Museum), a museum on a dairy farm in northern Italy that is dedicated to the eco-friendly artistic and scientific possibilities of recycled dung.
Merdacotta is a terracotta-like material that can be used as a building material, in tiles, tableware, flower pots and more.
Nothing in the process wasted: in the first step huge digesters extract the methane and urea from the cow manure. Not only does this remove the smell, but the methane is burnt to produce energy.
The Shit Museum displayed their Merdacotta products during the 2016 Milan Design Fair and again at London Design Festival as part of the exhibition Toilet Break.
Merdacotta was created by the dairy farm owner Gianantonio Locatelli and architect Luca Cipelletti, who is also the designer and creative director of the Shit Museum. Locatelli realised that his heard of 2500 cows were producing 30 000 litres of milk per day and 100 000 kilograms of manure. Horrified at the idea that “shit was considered waste”, Cipelletti developed a material that is a mix of dung and clay.
Merdacotta has a more rustic, handcrafted look than industrial terracotta. The surface of the material is rough, and reminds the owner of its rustic origins. The texture forms when the material is fired at 1000 degrees and the remnants of straw in the dung burn away, leaving imperfections.
The range of products includes plates, bowls and mugs, but some people may still have qualms about eating and drinking from them. The kitchenware brings the project full circle – from excretion back to food and digestion. The flowerpots are more popular.
The Shit Museum opened in 2015 with a series of outdoor and indoor installations, and a celebration of faeces as a construction material for ancient civilisations. The mission of the museum is to show off the potential of poo.