Rotomolding Hits the Road!

by Leisa Donlan, ARMA CEO

Mains hits the road

One of the things I most enjoy about writing this section for Rotoworld® is that I’m constantly challenged about our industry’s place in the wider sector of design & architecture. Coming from the manufacturer’s perspective we can look at the process as mainly industrial in its nature and static in its possibilities and that will probably always remain a major area of interest and income.

I have often heard rotomoulding described as half science and half art and it is the combination that I think inspires emerging designers to utilize the process. One of the most exciting designers to be profiled in Milan 2011 is London-based Spanish designer Jorge Manes who recently spent 2 weeks cycling the El Camino de Santiago route in Spain.

Born in 1984 in Madrid, Jorge started to develop his unusual curiosity very early, thanks to his parents, Antonio and Isabel, who were both architects. Their passion about traveling gave him a wide view of different cultures and exotic places, and this was probably one of the reasons that led him to leave Spain looking for new aims and challenges. Before that, in 2005 he graduated in Industrial Design Technical Engineering in the Antonio Nebrija University and completed a postgraduate course in Furniture Design.

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known as The Way of St James, is a collection of old pilgrimage routes which cover Europe. They all have Santiago de Compostela in the north west of Spain as their final destination, and for more than 1,000 years pilgrims have been walking the Camino on a spiritual and often life-changing journey.

In his online blog of the trip Manes writes, “Throughout modern history due to social, environmental and economic purposes, factories have, on the whole, been set up in very specific locations. Increasingly mass production and globalization have led to a more drastic geographical localization. My work focuses on exploring alternative and more flexible processes of manufacturing in response to this immovable situation.

Ultreia is a project where El Camino, an ancient pilgrim route in Spain, is being transformed into a 700km production line. The recent commercialization of the route is challenged by on-site manufacture of alternative objects and performances, through a portable and self-sustainable factory that is able to relocate itself every day, taking advantage of the specific locations, industries and people encountered on the route.”

A rotational moulding machine powered by the movement of the bike itself, a tent and a solar panel allowed the designer to become completely self-sustainable on the road and accomplish a 2 weeks production journey, designing and producing pieces along the way that reflected what he had experienced.

On the Sarracin Lamps, Manes writes, “Sarracin Castle was never conquered. Situated on a steep hill, the slopes of Monte de la Vilela, its access is a complicated ascension trough the deepest Bercian forests. Its history is linked to the Templar Knights, protecting pilgrims in the Camino de Santiago route. On top of the hill, after pushing uphill my factory for more than an hour, I understood the importance of the location as a military fortress. Before leaving the place, I had the feeling I needed to take with me something from this castle, so I decided to use the downhill back to the village to cast some of my Bioresin Lamps, together with some unusual plants that I picked up from inside the fortress.” The use of natural elements inside the resin and the organic look of the pieces make them appear delicate yet strong and certainly beautiful.

The trip wasn’t all hard work, riding up hills. Manes enjoyed an on the spot football competition during the journey and provided the cups! “On Wednesday, 19 May 2010, Atletico de Madrid and Sevilla CF played the Final of the Copa del Rey football championship (The King’s Cup). The final score was 0-2. As my team since I can remember, Atletico de Madrid, lost this game, I decided to rematch the final during my journey. For such an occasion, a mould of the Copa del Rey trophy was produced, in order to be able to replicate it as many times as I wanted. On the 26th May, one week after the official game, I arrived to Estella, where I introduced myself to local kids as a professional football trophy maker. Later, an improvised football match was played in the main square of the village, while I was cycling around it, producing several trophies for the winners.”

Eunate was inspired by a beautiful Basque Church. “Santa María de Eunate (“hundred doors” in the Basque language), is an enigmatic Romanesque chapel built in the 12th century. Its placement is aligned with some other main temples in the area, strategically built in a main telluric junction, in the middle of a wheat field. Visitors often carry an ancient ritual, consisting in walking around the outer grassy path and the inner stone paved path. This ancient ritual served as inspiration to create unique on-site manufactured replicas, together with materials gathered from Eunate‘s surroundings, such as wheat spikes. The very first souvenir remains there, in the church, as a gift and memento from this experience.”

For more info on the project go to or check out the video on YouTube.


Leisa Donlan holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology) and spent her early career in the fuel industry working on quality related projects. She was appointed Chief Executive Officer of ARM Australasia in 1996 and has been a founding member of the Alliance of Rotational Moulding Organisation since its inception. In her role for ARMA Leisa advocates on behalf of the industry, assists in developing global relationships for members and regularly presents at industry events. She frequently authors articles on the process and its wealth of possibilities and outside her ARMA role, Leisa is a consultant on corporate and non-profit governance.