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A Concrete Vanity Lit From Within

A concrete countertop with a clear glass sink on top.

Another Honorable Mention winner in the 2010 Concrete Countertop Design Competition:

Liquid Stone Studios, Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada
Project: Matsuo Power Room, Nanaimo British Columbia, Canada

The artisan writes: The project was a powder-room vanity top. It was a follow-up to a feature fireplace we did a few months earlier for the same clients. As we had won their confidence with the fireplace project, they gave me free reign on the design, but we discussed ideas beforehand with them and a cabinetmaker, which helped steer the design.

The clients said they would like a "wow" feature for the powder room and that they would like to incorporate beach glass from their favorite beach in Hawaii. I suggested backlighting the glass with fiber optics, and also incorporating some ambient lighting to the piece by making a textured face to the two visible sides of the vanity top that would be lit with indirect lighting from a recessed light track running above the textured area.

The face of the vanity was made 4 1/2 inches high, which allowed a 3-inch textured decorative face for the light to reflect over and also allowed a 1-inch thick band above this section to house a recessed lighting track, with a similar band along the bottom, which balanced the design.

The beach glass was concentrated in a domed section directly under the glass vessel sink. The vessel sink was placed on a dome for two reasons: to make cleaning the tight area under the sink easier and to serve as a focal point for the fiber-optic-lit beach glass, instead of having it randomly scattered all over the top, as is often done.

A roll of toilet paper attached to the side of this concrete vanity with a glass bowl sink.

A look at the detailed edges of the glowing vanity.

Integral colored GFRC was used, primarily because, in order to maintain aesthetically pleasing proportions on the edge profile, the 1-inch band for the recessed lighting track was only 1/4-inch thick in sections. Lighting mechanisms from Ikea were used for both the recessed track lighting and as a light source for the fiber optics that lit the glass. They are housed in voids cast into the underside of the mold.

The vanity top complements the surroundings of the tiny powder room well. With a large mirror on the wall, crystal door pulls on the cabinet and a crystal chandelier overhead, the glass bowl, embedded glass and lighted countertop really sparkle. The integral lighting provides enough ambient light to use the washroom, and contemplating it helps pass the time, if necessary. Domed section eases cleaning under the tight curve of the glass bowl.

A look at all the fiber optic strands installed in this concrete vanity.

The clients leave the hall lights out and the door open to their powder room to admire it from the dining room. They have asked me to start thinking of ideas for another focal piece for the entryway in the coming months.

The technical challenges of pouring this in one piece and making the mold so as to be able to disassemble it without destroying the piece was a great challenge. I really enjoyed brainstorming. An accumulation of techniques I had tried for various less-complex pieces were combined for this. My ambition was not only to please and amaze the clients, but also to push my own creative and technical limits and perhaps even have other concrete professionals wonder just how we built it.

A look at the underside of this concrete countertop that is lit from within.

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