The cold industrial look that is achieved when concrete is used has been getting more popularity lately as more designers are turning to the material for their final material directions. Now it’s ended up on Kickstarter in the form of a pen design. What other nontraditional uses has it been used for?

It’s Just So…Dang…Versatile

Take the latest pen design on Kickstarter for example. Many designers are now using concrete in unexpected and unusual ways and it would seem that the possibilities are virtually endless when using the material, especially when tweaking the mix recipe:

The Contribute Project by Dustin Faddis
(If you’re interested there’s six days left to Kickstart this project)

When tweaked, the concrete can become a new and exciting material to work with, and those endless possibilities are in no short supply. Concrete can also be a friend of the environment in all stages of its life span, from raw material production to demolition (depending on the sourcing), making it a great choice for smart and sustainable designs, and a reason why it’s sudden reappearance is taking form. But how easy is it to work with and how ambitious are designers willing to get with it? Let’s take a look at a couple different perspectives:

Jewelry Designer Karen Konzuk:

“It is a very challenging material to work with. Things like curing time time effects the turnaround for a piece. We have to cast several of each item at a time to ensure we always have stock for orders. Our typical lead time for shipping is 24 hours, so we need to keep on top of stock.

The casting is also an issue. It’s very difficult to get a perfect cast each time. It’s taken a lot of experimenting to get the technique perfected. The hardest part is trying to create new pieces. It’s frustrating to have to wait 3 days before you take the concrete out of the mold to see the final result just for it to be a bad cast.

Concrete dust is also hard to deal with. The ventilation required for the studio is pretty intense as to inhale the dust would have pretty bad consequences. Concrete dulls tools very fast so we go through a lot of files, saw blades, grinding disks.”

Industrial Designer Rob Bye:

“Concrete is an awesome material, and I have no idea why it has taken me until now to realise this!…Some amazing products are really only interesting due to the material. Some may say it is gimmicky in certain usage situations, but when a standard material is use in an interesting way, it really can give great results.

Fair enough it really does not abide by ‘truth to material’ but I feel this is the whole point of using concrete. It allows a designer to create an extremely industrial styled product, whilst maintaining a minimalistic and modern aesthetic; and can even give a simple form something new. One of the best examples of this is in furniture, where tables can be in such a simple form yet still look exquisite due purely to the material.”

Industrial Design X Concrete Today


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.