By now the booming market for concrete countertops is well known. Architects and designers are well versed in concretes ability to contribute to the cool, natural look that is in such demand. What is not as well known is the growing popularity of concrete furniture pieces some of North America’s most creative craftsmen are creating.
“People want to have something they can show off, not something that mimics what their friends or neighbors have,” according to Terry Stogner, owner and founder of Concrete Interiors in Alamo, California. In addition, concrete can be designed in options, straight, curved, or freeform; a variety of edge treatments are possible; surface treatments such as textures and inlays can be used; and the concrete can be tailored to compliment glass, metal, or wood. “And if you break outside the standard mold with concrete, the cost does not go up dramatically,” he said.
Beau Hibdon of Elements of Time in Redmond, Oregon, got his start in furniture when customers he was building a patio for asked him to build the furniture to go with it. “I started using different materials over boards and pieces of plywood. I’d use stains and stamps. When I started showing what I could do, people didn’t believe it.”
Today, the gallery he owns with partner Dave Anderson boasts beautiful furniture that lures customer after customer. Hibdon says requests for furniture are common these days. In fact, three “high-end” stores are interested in their work.
Cheng Design in Berkeley, California, is known internationally for its innovative design work in kitchens, bathrooms, and custom homes. The use of concrete is abundant. “I have an art background and I was always trying to be inventive,” said Futung Cheng, whose mother was a color artist at the Walt Disney Studios. Three of his brothers are professional artists. Cheng was immediately drawn to the virtues of concrete. “It is easily sculpted, it takes any guise, and it mimics whatever ask it to be,” he said.
Cheng Design has introduced a new Geocrete Pangea Series Workstation, a module that plugs into a new or existing kitchen. The Workstations are designed around specific functions like pastry making, brass or stainless trivets to be designed near a cook top, fitted cutting boards or chopping blocks and integral fruit bowls.
As each day passes more and more owners, designers, and builders realize the possibilities of concrete for custom furniture pieces — this market is poised to continue growing and become more creative.