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Concrete.  A solid, monotone substance used in construction.  Not something we generally think about in terms of design, art or eye catching structures.  Think again.  Concrete is far more versatile than you might realize.

Concrete has been a building material for centuries, but recently, due technological advances and innovation, it has been given a new life, now appearing in many non-traditional formats such as furniture and art and even jewelry. 

Concrete can be traced back to Mesopotamia and Ancient Rome where it was used over 4,000 years ago.  But it was not until the early 20th century that it started to be applied in furniture and interior design.  The prolific American inventor, Thomas Edison, is said to be the first person to predict the use of concrete furniture and was a pioneer in concrete development, even creating concrete phonograph cabinets.

Lets have a look at some inspiring works from around the globe that may make you think again about concrete and its capabilities.

1.Using concrete as an art medium.In 2009 giant computer mice could be found in Xiamen, China.

Image courtesy of Riley G.  (rileyinchina.blogspot.co.uk)

2.  Italian inspirational illumination.

Lamps and lighting made from concrete.  The Aplomb lamp was designed by Paolo Lucidi and Luca Pevere for Italian lighting manufacturer Foscarini.

3. Wearable concrete!

Contemporary jewelry made from Polymer resin concrete is lightweight and durable.  Many bespoke and artisan jewelers are now using concrete to produce rings, earrings, necklaces and cufflinks such as those made by Rhiannon Palmer.

4. And then there is the Binishell. 

Binishells are thin-shell structures made from reinforced concrete that is lifted and shaped by air pressure. Originally circular in plan, the Binishell was invented in 1960’s by Dr Dante Bini who built 1600 of them in 23 countries. Uses include housing, schools, sports arenas, silos.  Now being given a new lease of life by his son, Nicolo Bini.

Here is an original 1960’s Binishell used in a school in NSW, Australia.

5. Contemporary Concrete tables, benches, planters and even chairs can be found in many retail outlets such as living.concrete.co.uk who hand craft a range of items including this coffee table.

6.  Fabulous patterned surfaces like those created by Graphic Concrete for both internal and external spaces around the globe.

Graphic Concrete Ltd, with head quarters in Finland, manufactures and sells this innovative product known as graphic concrete. It enables durable patterns and images to be produced on prefabricated concrete surfaces such as facades, walls and pavement slabs. Graphic concrete is a patented technology invented by interior architect Samuli Naamanka. The inspiration was to create a real industrial product for large-scale surfaces, a tool with which architects could be more visually creative. 

This is just a quick look at some of the amazing things that can be done with concrete.  This everyday, yet inspirational product, can be used to create something truly amazing whether it be a design feature, wearable item or incredible building structure.  One can only wonder what the future holds for this versatile product.

References:  https://en.wikipedia.org

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