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The Most Forgotten Material

A specially commissioned collection of Urns made for the World Culture Museums of the Netherlands and The Tropen Museum on the occasion of ‘’Plastic Crush’’ Exhibition 2022-2024.

Gutta Percha was an extremely popular material in the 19th century.

Nowadays, it is considered obscurity, threatening to become both ecological and important knowledge loss in the collective human memory.

Designer Shahar Livne created 3 urns as an ode to this important yet forgotten material. Each urn refers to the rich relationships Gutta Percha had in culture, botanical studies, and colonialism,  from the animism beliefs of the tribes who collected it to the methods created and adapted to extract it, laws and the technological developments that followed it throughout the 19th century to today.

By collecting knowledge and stories through a complex and investigative process, including interviewing specialists from varied backgrounds, Livne wanted to represent loss and mourning for this important almost forgotten material that had such an important part of human history.


To do so, she designed the urns with a combination of hand-work and new technologies, the outer shell made of SLA-printed resin act as both capsule and future “ghost” of the inner gutta percha core as it deteriorates and deforms with time, questioning conservation among many other issues.

As part of the project, specialists from the field of Botany, journalism, and conservation were interviewed about the relationships they have with Gutta Percha as material, check the recordings page for listening to their stories

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