extruded tiles and vessels


A series of tiles and vessels extruded from grogged stoneware clay. The shapes remind of technical and architectural details found in heatsinks and bricks.
The tiles are designed to be open to appropriation, they can be used to hold and serve various objects from office supplies, cards and photographs to food.

1 tiles/plates

2 tile in use

3 extruded vessels

4 arrangement of objects

5 custom tooling

6 fruit on a tile


extruded cooler


This functional vessel ist extruded from grogged terracotta clay and low-fired to stay porous. To achieve the cooling function the vessel is soaked and/or filled with water. The fins on the outside provide a maximum surface area for the water to evaporate and cool the vessel down.

7 in situ

8 thermographic verification of the functionality

9 watering the cooler before use




A dot of light seems to move erratically on the phosphor of a picture tube. On closer inspection, it becomes apparent that it repeatedly approaches one of two points, but is then drawn to the other one without coming to rest.
The dot makes visible what is hidden from the viewer's eye: invisible electrical processes inside a black box. A chaotic system that oscillates between two points.
The point of light approaches one of the two points again and again, but a final decision does not seem to be in sight.

10 the Attraktor

11 output

12 output

13 installation view (photo: Goldschmidtböing)

14 output


functional vessels

2014 – 18

Shapes and design principles emerged from the experimental 3D printing of stoneware clay, that outrun epistemic artifacts and shape studies. From the properties and requirements of the material and the printing process originate shapes, that work well and define their very own aesthetic.
The result are objects that boldly show off their construction and don't look like traditional handthrown pots but are rather reminiscent of technical cooling fins or abstract architectural models.

15 white stoneware, tin glaze

16 stoneware mug with dovetail handle

17 stoneware mug with looped handle

18 red stoneware, double glazed

19 stoneware mug with straight double handle

20 vase printed with an experimental non-planar slicer

21 breakfast arrangement

22 various stoneware mugs


looped vessels

2015 – 19

In 3D printing it is usually an error if material falls uncontrollably in unsupported parts of the print.
These vessels emphasize especially this erratic behavior. The looped vases are perfectly waterproof and functional, but are decorated with printing errors. Freely falling material formed the loops on the outside and hence every vase and every loop is different.
Exact repetitions and high precision on the one hand and generative shapes and visible behaviour of the ceramic material on the other hand irritate in an object, that was neither clearly made by machine nor by hand.

23 early vase with big loops

24 white stoneware, white tin glaze

25 white stoneware, blue glaze

26 red stoneware, white tin glaze

27 red stoneware, blue/green glaze

28 stoneware vases with big loops

29 red stoneware vases


vom geheimen Leben der Dinge


Today we are surrounded by new, digital objects. But the things we thought we know somehow changed. Electronic things start to communicate with us and each other, they radically change our everyday life and actions.
»on the secret Life of Things« is a series of experimental prototypes that explore the new and ubiquitous things of daily life. The objects don’t look spectacular or new, one seems to recognize something in each one of them. They were created on the basis of well-known things everybody knows from their life. They pick up properties of the new things that easily disappear in the rumpus of digitalization. The new things start to act and make decisions autonomously – a behavior we previously knew only from living beings.
The names of the objects are borrowed from classical myths and legends, where inexplicable events and phenomenons were explained with gods and spirits. This reference establishes an analogy, that is far away from technical details and creates a new perspective onto the objects.
The objects shall animate to notice and observe the secret life of the things that surround us every day in an unexcited and conscious way.


Pythia was the priest of the oracle of delphi. She contacted the god Apollon and answered the questions of consulters that seeked advice.
Pythia is a calculator that doesn't calculate. It is connected to the internet, the entered task is sent to a server that solves the equation. The device just displays the received answer.


Plutos was the personification of the resources that come from the earth. He was blinded by Zeus and distributed his gifts randomly, those who received the wealth were not always the ones who deserved it.
Plutos is a power strip that tracks the german stock index DAX. At a negative change both outlets are switched off. Up to a growth of 1% one outlet is switched on, at more than 1% both of them.

Pyramus & Thisbe
According to a saga Pyramus and Thisbe were lovers in the ancient Babylon. Their parents were at enmity with each other so they had conceal their relationship and could only communicate secretly.
Pyramus and Thisbe are two telephone receivers that don't need a user. They exist autonomously and talk to each other while they lay side by side. They fall silent when separated from each other.


Lares were spirits of certain families or places. They were worshipped in a domestic shrine, the Lararium.
The monitor of an intercom is repurposed as a Lararium. The Lar determines the volatile IP address by which the home is reachable from the internet at present. It replaces the static »home sweet home« embroidery.


Kairos was the god of the opportune moment for a decision. Mythology is dominated by heroic deeds and the motif of withdrawal is rare. But sometimes heroes refused a call then it was the right thing to do.
Kairos seems to be a professional device with a serious purpose. But after brief consideration every request is refused with a polite but assertive »I would prefer not to«. The purpose and motivation of Kairos remains unknown.

30 the 5 objects

31 Pythia

32 Pythia detail

33 Plutos detail

34 Plutos in action

35 Plutos

36 Pyramus & Thisbe detail

37 Pyramus & Thisbe

38 Lar in situ

39 Kairos

40 interacting with Kairos

41 Kairos' refusal in detial


digitale Authentizität


Today 3D printers are omnipresent. But most of the time they are used to print objects that already exist and to force any material into any shape. That reminds of the arrival of new technologies in the past. When it became possible to build with cast iron in the end of the 19th century the architects hid the thin iron columns in a stone shell. It took a while until the new potentials of the material were used to build airy hall from iron and glass in a genuine new style. In the 20th century the first plastics were used to imitate natural horn and it took decades before products showed their plastic-ness in bright colors.

Can a machine make authentic things? Is there a border between analog and digital? Does digital unpredictability exist? That is the purpose of a thing? What is an original, what is a copy?
The hands-on work is accompanied by some texts that deal with topics and questions that emerged from the practical experiments. The first notes were seemingly independent fragments that were grouped just for logistic reasons in the first place. To force these multeities into one single book would be counterproductive and would impose an unwanted order and hierarchy to the chapters.
So the result is a collection of booklets that are independent and yet completely dependent on each other. Every chapter can be placed next to any other. The booklets have cross references to the others on their cover which can be obeyed or not. The text is accompanied by photographs of objects from the hands-on part of the projects. The whole book is framed by a ceramic slipcase from the experimental process. The red booklet is the introduction from which the reader can decide which way to go. There are no rules, one can start, stop or skip at any point.

42 3D-printed stoneware slipcase

43 the chapters are individual booklets

44 the introduction

45 rhizomatic order

46 also contains some images


Maschine Grotesk


Digital typefaces describe letters as areas on a white space: the "I" is not a line, but a thin rectangle. A human writes in a different way: by drawing the "I" really as a line and not by filling a rectangle. By moving the pen over the paper the tool creates the visible shape with its inherent line width. Maschine Grotesk works in a similar way.
It is a typeface for machines and devices that can handle drawing tools. In their digital form the letters are invisible, just an abstract path, a set of movement commands. They become visible in the analogue execution. Clear and simple shapes create a typeface that remains legible even with the most archaic tools. Dependent on tool, speed, substrate and other influences a style or weight is generated, every letter is unique. The results range from exact implementations of the commands with a ball pen on paper and calligraphy with wide brushes directly on a lithographic stone.

47 cited from "In der Strafkolonie" by Franz Kafka

48 plotting

49 cited from "Die Verwandlung" by Franz Kafka

50 sample


plot it all

2013 – 14

Commercial pen plotters usually can draw just on paper or flat objects. This portable machine was built to overcome this barrier. It is possible to plot digital data onto unhandy or immobile objects. It can use virtually every pen or brush.
The drawing is programmed onto the control module and can be plotted without a computer. Everywhere and in every position. The machine was used the first time to paint digital data onta a lithographic stone in the project "Maschine Grotesk".

51 the device

52 the device in action

53 the tedious process of lithography

54 finally printing the drawing

55 the physical variations of the type


ich sitze in meinem Herzen


We are surrounded by machines and programs that pretend to have emotions. A website is happy about our visit, an ATM is sorry to inform us that it can't turn over our money. The MP3 player displays a sad face when it crashed. This work is a try to develop this grotesque examples even further: a machine that only function is to try to create emotions. The basis is the perhaps most emotional literature from the "Sturm und Drang" movement. A new text is generated by stochastic algorithms that are usually used to create spam emails that can't be distinguished from human emails and therefor pass spam filters.

An old dot matrix printer captures the words on continuous paper. Though the new sentences are just new combinations of fragments of the original text, on closer inspection one can find sentences that construct new meaning and could be interpreted as emotional expressions of the machine.
The most astonishing sentences were collected in a small book.

56 installation view

57 the produced poetry

58 the booklet


schlechte Passer


While working on "Rasterstudien" this series resulted from experiments in screenprinting. Instead of using the usual CMYK system that creates colors by mixture, red, green and blue were used, more common in the digital workflow. Every print is identical in theory: three parallel grids in three colors that should blend to a neutral grey from the distance. The layers are printed separately and even the smallest error or rotation causes immense color shifts. The inks are perfectly opaque, so every spot on the paper is either red, green or blue, no mixing occurs. The resulting color gradients develop in the observers perception.

59 print on table

60 detail: dried ink

61 print 1

62 print 2


raster studies


Inspired by old computer graphics and printing processes this work deals with the raster and how it can develop a life of its own. Especially errors, irregulaities and technical shortcomings can create astonishing images with a specific aesthetic. In a downright scientific test series a framework was created in which these phenomena that could be denominated as errors can be observed. To prevent unwanted interference from other rasters a completely vector based workflow was developed.
A pen plotter draws three rasters in cyan, magente and yellow into a square field. The parameters raster width, raster angle and line or dot raster are randomly defined and recorded in a abstract legend next to the drawing.
The result is a folder with studies in DIN A4.

63 plots

64 plot B

65 plot A

66 plot C

67 plot D



2012 – 13

A series of drawings that reduce the act of drawing to emptying pens. Automated and efficient the simplest drawing is created: a straight line. The whole lifecycle and death of a pen on a single sheet of paper. What looks like a performance test for quality control is an abstraction of the human desire to fill a white canvas. But a machine filled it line by line with its destinctive mark: the perfect line. But from the distance one doesn't see the machine bur another individual: the pen.
What serves as a tool in the human hand becomes a protagonist in the machine.

68 drawing A

69 drawing C

70 drawing B



Steffen Hartwig is living and working in Essen/Germany.

2010 – 2015 he studied communication design at the Folkwang UdK Essen, 2015 – 2016 at the new media class at UdK Berlin.


Folkwangpreis für Gestaltung

Gesellschaft der Freunde und Förderer der Folkwang UdK e.V. · 2014

exhibitions & fairs

12/2023 · Werkzeug · Der schöne Hermann · Essen

10/2023 · VIOLETT · City of Gold · Essen

10/2022 · Kunst trifft Technik · LWL-Museum Ziegelei Lage

07/2020 · Kunst trifft Technik · Porzellanikon · Selb

02/2020 · Beauty is a Line · Picasso Museum · Münster

10/2019 · Das beseelte Ding · Museum Folkwang UG · Essen

09/2019 · Kunst trifft Technik · Keramion · Frechen

06/2019 · Impuls Bauhaus · Festival der FUdK · Essen

07/2018 · The Design in the City · Gdynia Design Days · Gdynia, PL

07/2018 · GLITCH · Gdynia Design Days · Gdynia, PL

05/2018 · Nothing but flowers · Łódź Design Festival · Łódź, PL

02/2017 · 3D print studio · Museum Cuypershuis · Roermond, NL

10/2016 · K 2016 · für Covestro · Messe Düsseldorf

10/2016 · Dutch Design Week · Klokgebouw · Eindhoven, NL

01/2016 · imm cologne · Kölnmesse · Köln

05/2014 · C.A.R. Medienkunstmesse · Zollverein Essen

11/2013 · trans(in)formation · Galerie 52 · Essen

11/2013 · die Iris des Folkwang · das Gespinst · Essen

06/2013 · C.A.R. Medienkunstmesse · Zollverein Essen

11/2012 · shiny toys festival · Ringlokschuppen · Mülheim

08/2012 · Verteilerebene · Rathaus Essen

06/2012 · C.A.R. Medienkunstmesse · Kokerei Zollverein · Essen

10/2011 · C.A.R. Kunstmesse · Zollverein · Essen

04/2011 · zurück im blick nach vorn – vor im blick zurück · Galerie im Gang · Essen


2017 · Museum Cuypershuis · Roermond, NL

other ventures

personal instagram

– studio for development of electronics for art and music: analog research · website · instagram

– studio specializing in recycled materials: das Rezyklat · website · instagram


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