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The story of Concrete furniture

Rome wasn’t built in a day and looking at the beautiful structures, we are 100% sure it wasn’t. While the Romans were busy creating architectural masterpieces, they also experimented with cement and came up with techniques like Pozzolanic, a mixture of volcanic ash and lime. Because of its ability to set in the water, this technique was then used in the construction of harbors. And you thought Romans only introduced cheese, pizzas and pastas to the world. Now you know that they also gave us various ways of using cement. Giving them company were the Egyptians, they used cement to build the majestic pyramids.

Cement has always been an integral part of the Architectural World. From building structures to building furniture, Cement has come a long way. The credit for this transition has to be given to one and only Thomas Edison. Now, who doesn’t know Mr. Edison, the inventor of the famous Light Blub. In 1911, he came up with this cool idea of using concrete to make furniture. Let’s give it to the man; it was indeed an awesome idea! He went on to make many pieces of concrete furniture including cabinets for his phonographs.

While Thomas Edison was right about the durability of concrete, many felt that concrete furniture was dull and boring. Lynn Mason Scofield added colors to it, his company came up with products like color hardners, colorwax and integral color, sealers and chemical stains. And guess who their famous client was, the king of comedy, Charlie Chaplin.

Over the period of time, both concrete furniture and usage of cement underwent many changes. Take for example the Concrete Overlay, John Crossfield came up with this amazing technique for the creative types. Overlay allows designers to use colors on the cement or spray it with colors to create decorative pieces. So, if you are feeling very creative and want your creative juices to flow then Concrete Overlay it is.

The introduction of Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) in 1940 changed the way cement was being used. It came like a hero and saved the world from the otherwise bulky cement. Just a mixing of tiny strands of glass fibre in cement and sand and you had a product that could weigh lighter than the feather, not literally. It just made the product weigh less. Actually, GFRC was godsend to the designers.

The thing with us humans is we are never satisfied with what we have so how could have we possibly be satisfied with only coloured cement furniture, right? People were thirsty for more patterns and options and Brad Bowman wanted to quench this thirst, thus he came up with an idea for stamping patterns to produce beautiful and creative patterns on the concrete. Thank you Brad Bowman for the patterns, you have made our life worthwhile.

Year after year, the momentum for the Cement just kept on rising. And the rise gave birth to some of the iconic furniture of its time. Take for example “The Loop Chair” also known as the beach chair created by Swiss Industrial Designer Willy Guhl in 1955. The genius is its modern, sleek, minimalistic design that was way ahead of its time. Who would have thought that bulky looking concrete furniture could be made so sleek? Only a visionary like Willy could have thought of turning bulky, concrete looking furniture into a marvellous piece of modern art.

Concrete is here to stay and undoubtedly going to evolve further with some of the recent techniques like concrete canvas and concrete recycling. The more recent designers to look forward are Grupo Bondi, Fernando Mastrangelo and Rainer Mutsch to name a few. Their contemporary design like the plush looking outdoor sitting space M.Bench or the Fade furniture has opened up a whole new horizon of using the mighty cement like never before. It’s time to embrace the strength of cement and see the magic of transforming this grey matter into a unique piece of furniture.

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