As everyone knows, I am a fan of furniture made from concrete, especially when the designer manages to take the material and create something that feels as light and open as furniture made from things like plastic. Austin Texas-based designer and architect Efrain E. Velez, has managed to do just that with the OLithas collection.
All Photographs: Alisa Marrow
Velez concept was to take the idea of using stone-like slabs and make them appear as light as waves. I think that this collection more than exemplifies that idea. Each piece consists of a high-grade finish concrete, that is formed into thin sheets. The underside of each is ribbed to add strength, lighten the visual appearance, and provide a structural mount for the thin stainless steel legs that support both the table and the benches. I absolutely love the refined finish of the concrete, and I am thinking that because it is concrete it can be stained to any color, which would expand the range of the product line.
According to Velez,the name came from two sources. The Greek word “Lithos” which means (Stone), and the Spanish words “Ola”, (wave) and “Olita” (tiny wave).
I have this weird thing. I really love things that are made out of concrete, and I don’t mean building foundations and side walks. I am talking furniture, and sinks, and house hold items. There is something about the material when it is used in this fashion that is appealing to me.
Most people know the name Omer Arbel, from his recent work as the designer of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games medals, but beyond that Arbel has designed a number of pieces of furniture, including the 8.0 chair.
8.0 was a finalist in the 2006 Blueprint best newcomer category and I can see why. The chair is made from a single piece of concrete and despite the delicate appearance it is extremely strong and very stable. Clean simple lines with a color graphic treatment just make this chair, and the fact that it is made of concrete is just an added touch.
The chair was developed in association with international concrete manufacturer LaFarge, and is produced using a new high strength concrete called “Ductal”. This new concrete material is stronger than any other concrete produced in history. Its primary use is in infrastructural uses like bridge building. According to Arbel, ” The intent of this piece was to explore the phenomenal properties of this material on the scale of a piece of furniture. The tremendous strength allows this chair to have a shockingly this profile, and a tenuous looking cantilever seat.”
This look of this chair is so nice I could see it being used in both indoor and outdoor settings.