Concrete is losing its image as a rough and unrefined material, only useful for load bearing exteriors and monolithic foundations. As it becomes more popular, concrete technology is pushing the limits of the material, testing its tensile properties, its lightness, and its flexibility. It is popping up in some of the most unlikely places in buildings and homes including cabinetry, countertops, light fixtures, and furniture.
Concrete impregnated canvas furniture was an idea developed by Florian Schmid that resulted in a series of durable, waterproof and fireproof stools. These stools are made by drenching and draping canvas over a wooden frame after the canvas has been impregnated with concrete. The fabric is stitched together on the edges and allowed to dry for 24 hours. They maintain the soft appearance of fabric, but can be placed inside as well as outside and a very weather and UV resistant. Florian says that the use of canvas concrete is limitless, and could be easily adapted for use in other areas like disaster relief.
Another innovative use of concrete is found in various pendant fixtures and desk lamps. Benjamin Hubert, working for a design firm called “Decode”, has been working with thin and flexible concrete to develop a series of light fixtures for domestic use. These fixtures look heavy and a little bit out of place while hanging from a ceiling as pendants. His desk lamp is suspended from a thin piece of wood creating a kind of tension while unifying the industrial with nature.
Although neither of these applications are particularly groundbreaking from a technological point of view, they do display a new way of seeing a rather mundane material. They show how old technology can be reworked to create something interesting and beautiful.