We talked a little last week about the gradual emergence of industrial art in the interior and concept design narrative. Here is our chance to peak under the rigid pleats of its skirt and discuss its exponentially appealing use this decade. What is it about cold slabs of grey material and un polished metal that have had this affect on us all? Sure, industrial, space-y, futuristic motifs were hot in the early chunk of the millennia. Academically, we can attribute this to the flick of three 9s to a few zeros that left us all wanting to grapple with a future that was unknown and yet appeared malleable to us. We had made it to the 21st century! We were in the era of exploration and post-analogue dreariness. Our tastes and lifestyle reflected this and we all liked to think, on the boring commute home, that we were returning to a house that was a slice of this zeitgeist.
Then the zeitgeist evolved- as it does. Our tastes once more swirled and shivered inside the mixing glass and we went greener and more colourful; flat packed and cash strapped. Now we find ourselves once more at the door of industrial design, something that post- 2000, we have never deviated too far from. Sure, we are less minimalistic in our application of it; edges have become curves and new found metaphysical, artistic depths exist. We are also now in the age of bespoke art, homes and furniture. Naturally, industrial design has found a new home (only a few minutes down the street) in an era where skill and craft shape the aesthetic portion of our lives. Industrial design also has a great potential for sustainability which has attracted a wider audience for its merits.
Industrial design’s poster girl, if you will, is concrete. Brutalist architects, including Marcel Breuer and Paul Rudolph, were concrete fiends, and trailblazers like Willy Guhl were shaping the weighty substance into delicate furniture as early as the 1950s. Yes, boring, clunky, under-appreciated, surprising concrete has made a huge comeback. Floors are perhaps the most natural application when using this material in your home. Recently, Carr Restorations showcased in an episode of Grand Designs, polished concrete floors as well as ones with stone accents embedded. If concrete floors aren’t your thing, concrete walls also have a great charm. Concrete has the power to add an incredibly subtle texture to a room. It is natural without appearing shabby and clean without appearing clinical. More people are choosing to incorporate concrete in their interiors because it’s a particularly easy material to maintain. Concrete is a natural balancer, a substance that silently allows other design accents to shine whilst certainly earning its spot as a noticeable design trend. When it’s used, it lends a ton of visual weight to the room.
Some key examples of recent, avant-garde uses of concrete include the Tilted Kilt Pub which has stained its concrete floors to appear wooden, thus adding metaphysical layers to our understanding and interaction with materials. Another manipulation of concrete is by staining it with acid which affords it a wonderful, rich, brassy look. We have included some pictures in this article so you can see what we are talking about!
A new generation of designers are also shaping the very make up of concrete. They are colouring it and complimenting it with found, interesting objects. Some examples are London-based designers Hannah Plumb and James Russell, who are known for reinventing pieces from the past. Perhaps their most seminal piece of work was filling the negative spaces of broken, antique chairs with concrete to repurpose it as modern masterpieces. Amelie Marei Loellmann is perhaps the most bold in her use of concrete, creating carpets and other pliable textiles from the material. She has fashioned a concrete skirt, hat and bag; most of her collection is rigid, although the pieces are relatively lightweight. Again, we have included pictures of these pieces below! They all serve as testimony to the ever increasing creativity of the modern art world which fosters a balance of a beauty, skill and functionality down to a tee.