Concrete is the humblest of materials, a hardwearing blend of gravel, sand, cement, and water that remains associated with driveways and basements. But in the right hands, the utilitarian mixture can be elevated to high design. Take the work of architect John Pawson, for example. His minimalist concrete interiors in the Hotel Puerta America in Madrid and 50 Gramercy Park in New York offer an updated version of Midcentury Modernism with their clean lines, cool palettes, and quiet sensuality. More recently still, Tadao Ando’s 152 Elizabeth is set to offer the same in a downtown setting.
The same praise can be applied to the latest crop of concrete pieces shown during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair and NYCxDesign. No longer relegated to outdoor areas, these refined heavyweights have migrated to main living areas, serving as focal points in parlors and accents in bedrooms. Geometric forms are the shapes of choice, but some designers have thrown curves in there, too, as well as complemented the concrete with pewter and leather. Our top picks follow.
Basalt Side Table by Driade
Inspired by a shard from a centuries-old antiquity, this concrete table’s jagged top boasts a dark wax-resin finish. Elegant legs resembling a museum stand support the organic form. All are from the hands of British duo Fredrikson Stallard, who have also designed a complementary dining table and coffee table for the brand.
Multifacet Collection by Concrete LCDA
French designer Matali Crasset is that rare talent who can mix high concept with commercial appeal. That skill imbues this collection of four objects — a vase, candleholder, display holder, and champagne bucket — which feature polished concrete, brushed brass, copper interiors, and the occasional leather accent.
Slab Rectangular Dining Table by Zachary A
Zachary A. Bitner uses a proprietary mixture of fiberglass and aggregate to give his seating, tables, and benches a concrete look and behavior, but without the attendant weight. Pieces may be customized and are manufactured by hand in Chicago.
Aperiodix Wall Tile System by Oso Industries
Comprising six tiles that can be laid out in non-repeating patterns, this customizable wall system resembles a mosaic in more ways than looks. The pieces are cast in integrally colored concrete and available in four standard hues.
Kreten Side Table (Short) by Souda
Created by casting concrete into a spandex mold, these sculptural tables by a Brooklyn-based trio now come in a smaller form. They are available in gray or charcoal.
Lux Basin by Kast Concrete Basins
The latest option from the U.K.-based manufacturer of concrete hand-washing basins, Lux features hidden runaway drainage and is extremely customizable. The unit comes in six colors and with or without a vanity space. It also may be mounted on a wall or surface.