Concrete

Anabella Vivas 100 Percent Sand Vases.

Anabella Vivas has created a series of vases that investigate how the design process is benefitted by using natural materials during the creation of the object. Vivas, wants to create a balance between the materials used and the final outcome. To reach that goal on this project Vivas has mixed concrete and glass, both reliant on sand for their existence.  Each vase is a balance of 40 percent glass to 60 percent concrete in materials use.  Working with the most amount of sand possible in her concrete mix, Vivas was able to blow glass into the concrete vessel, because of the slightly cooler than normal temperature which helps to fuse the pieces together. Each piece is hand made and no two are truly identical. Each one has a unique textural qualities to it in both the concrete and glass components. I love the subtle tonal color ranges in the cast concrete combined with a minimal aesthetic. And the balance between the heaviness on the concrete and the lightness of the glass is simply sublime.

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The Aplomb Concrete Lamp.

I’ll admit it, I have this strange fascination with things made out of concrete. By that I mean things that you wouldn’t normally use concrete to make. Things like furniture, light fixtures, counters, cabinetry, etc. Part of this comes from the fact that when we think of concrete, we tend to think of things like cinder blocks, building materials, heavy weighted, dead objects; but when we see something made from the material that is light and beautiful, it knocks you for a loop. This set of light fixtures from Foscarini did just that for me.

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The Aplomb Lamp, is a wonderful concrete pendant made from a more fluid type of concrete that is lighter in weight, and lends itself to being molded much like slip clay.  By using a specific type of concrete and molding process, Foscarini was able to design and manufacture a thin conical pendant lamp that holds all of the textural characteristics we think of when we think concrete. The lamp maintains the texture, the rigidity, the natural and almost earthen feel. There is a rigid and solid quality to the Aplomb pendant lamp.and The fixture feels light, almost like it were cast from foam, and it has this great sculptural quality to it that reminds me of Constantin Brancusi.

I know, I have nowhere to put them in my house, but I still dig them.

Driveway Overhaul.

It’s been a while since I actually posted anything about the house,so I thought this rainy Saturday morning might lend itself to doing just that.

If you have followed this blog you probably know that one of the things we have struggled with since moving in is the driveway situation. We love the idea of using Stabiligrid, and the positive impact it has on the environment, but at the end of the day it simply turned out to be an impractical solution for us. So after a very long winter, and a very, very wet 2009, we pulled the trigger on removing the existing Stabiligrid drive and replacing it with concrete.

Replacing the driveway is something that Kristy and I have struggled with since we moved in. When done right and maintained the Stabiligrid created a seamless plane that helped to enhance the illusion that the house floated in this field of green.  And we didn’t want to do anything to alter the original vision of the architect in terms of sighting the house. Another concern was the change in environmental impact that switching from the Stabiligrid to concrete might have. Originally we looked into using a pervious concrete  like Xaripave which allows the same amount of runoff to pass through the concrete and back into the ground below. Unfortunately it became to cost prohibitive based on the size of our drive. at 13 by 95 feet, we were looking at close to 22 thousand dollars for tear out, and pervious concrete thick enough to with stand  the daily traffic of our cars.

So what was the final solution? We caved and went with standard concrete. After shoveling a collective 44 plus inches of snow this winter, and taking a long hard look at the situation, solid concrete seemed like the most cost effect, durable solution for the climate, and the house.

The new driveway as seen from the front door.

At first we were both hesitant, afraid that the look of the home would be irreparably changed for the worst, and I have to admit when the crew removed the Stabiligrid and dropped in 4 tons  of gravel I was a bit worried. Here we are though a week later and the driveway is done. I have to admit it looks really nice. The drive actually adds a sense of completion to the structure, creating a sense of completeness that in some ways was lacking with Stabiligrid. I think this is because, since September of last year, the drive has been void of grass and really a washed out mud plane running from the garage to the street.

The Stabiligrid Mud Pit about mid January

So the next steps as spring rolls forward to summer, is to begin the landscaping plan, and hopefully by fall have a finished yard. I’m thinking it all begins next week, because as I look out at the yard I can tell it is going to need the first mowing fairly soon.

The new driveway looking back at the house from the street.

Olithas Concrete Furniture by Efrain E. Velez.

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).

Amazing Lines. Omer Arbel’s Concrete Chair.

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.

Thomas and Nillson, Functional Design Meets Sculpture

As the year winds down, I started putting together a list of things I want to accomplish next year in terms of home improvements. This is everything from fixing minor cracks and touch-up painting, to possible  major undertakings like finishing the basement. One thing that is on the list though, is landscaping, and today when I was searching the internet for ideas, I found the Thomas and Nillson Birdbath. The funny thing is I had actually looked at products from this company 4 years ago when I started thinking about a bath remodel in the old house. They make the most amazing sinks. Anyway, back to the birdbath.

I love the simple sculptural lines that create the overall shape of the object. A gently curving stone slab that intersects with a stainless steel parabolic arc which makes up the bath component. The two pieces create an understated and elegant object that not only functions as a birdbath, but could be viewed with a  dual purpose. That of an actual sculptural element for the yard.

As I dug around more on the site, I also found some wonderful benches. All made from cast concrete or stone, combined with Baltic birch hardwood.

The elegant thoms and nilsson birdbath

thomas and nillson benches, in stone and cherry

perspective XL bench

the amazing slab sink