What makes concrete such an appealing material in decor? It's a nod to the Brutalist architecture and aesthetic of the 20th Century, when people like Le Corbusier really explored concrete as a material. While today's cement trend is certainly far off the austere and form-follows-function sentiment of this previous era, it does offer a nod to it, and there's an appeal in that too. Ultimately, I think we've discovered through the decades that cement is not only robust, it also adds unique appeal to interiors and is quite an interesting texture.
Why do you think texture in decor has become more of a focus in recent years? I think we are looking more towards our connection with nature as there is emphasis on sustainability and the environment globally. Zeitgeist always finds its way into interiors and design. Cement might be man-made, but somehow it still represents a rawness; a naturalness. It's also stripped of other adornment - no plaster or paint, but a simple material, laid bare. This simplicity ties in well with the world's move towards connecting with nature and the ever-growing emphasis on sustainability.
Block & Chisel has its roots in a really classic decor look, so why the move to this more contemporary look using cement as a decor material? We are always looking for ways to diversify our offer, the cement collection seemed a perfect fit for us as it is well suited to the South African aesthetic and weather. Plus these designs work well when styled with our locally produced Designed By Sibley collections.
How do you see cement pieces being incorporated into homes with classic decor? Board-formed cement walls have been a huge trend in the last few years within architecture (possibly as a reinterpretation of Brutalism) resulting in a higher acceptance of raw cement as an interior finish. Classic decor actually works well with this as it creates a balance and naturalises the harshness of the cement aesthetic.
There is potential for design this bold to dominate. How to use cement furniture for a sophisticated look? Mould design is important as not only is cement on trend, but specific shapes tend to come across as more trendy. Go for geometric shapes and simple patterns for your furniture pieces. A simple lip on a table, or a smooth side to an interesting oval shaped stool is all the complexity necessary. This also helps to display the material more clearly. Also, avoid concrete that's got that faux Grecian or Roman look. Of course, what shapes you choose will also always depend on the existing interior and pieces. If you have dainty pieces there is nothing at all wrong with adding something that will bring everything together and act as an anchor for your look.
Are these pieces really just cement? It’s what we call a composite. Our collection is a cement, clay and acrylic mix which allows for the pieces to be lighter than a solid cement design. They remain robust but lighter to handle.