• Featured Brands: Concrete Cat

    We love the objets d’art by Canadian line Concrete Cat: to discover more about their boundary-breaking work, we stopped by their studio in Edmonton, Alberta for a glimpse behind the scenes.
    Photos by Kurt Bugasto

    Tell us about the early days at Concrete Cat. How did you get started? 
    Concrete Cat started as an experiment to create art and design using a material that's primarily associated with industrial applications. I was exposed to concrete while working for construction companies to pay my way through University. Near the end of the day there would be leftover concrete from trucks cleaning out after they completed a pour. I would form shapes with the waste. I couldn't wait for the next day to come back to work to see how my creations turned out. This experience gave me the seed of the idea for Concrete Cat. 

    What came first: the material or the form?
    The material: the very first time I touched concrete I knew it was magic. 

    Why concrete? What material properties make concrete special for the type of work you’re commissioning?
    Concrete has too many properties that make it special. If I had to pick a couple I'd say versatility and scalability. We make both objects that weigh a under a pound and architectural projects that weigh tons. There are very few materials that have that kind of versatility. We can quite literally make anything with concrete. 

    Tell us a few facts about the materials you use that we wouldn’t know? 
    Concrete takes very little energy to recycle. Most asphalt roads are made from recycled concrete. 
    Concrete does not dry out, it hardens through a chemical reaction called "hydration"; having the perfect amount of water present during the hydration process is imperative for creating the very best concrete. 

    Humans have used concrete to make structures for thousands of years (and many of these ancient structures still exist).

    The best and most challenging part about working with concrete?
    Color! When we first started adding color to concrete not only was there no one else doing it but my mentors in the industry flat out told me that no one wants colored concrete. Seven years later I guess we've proved them wrong but it's been a long road. We've broken a lot of ground for new designers that want to work on pigmented concrete. We mix all our colors by hand from primary colors, we maintain an extensive color library, we have one studio artist who's main task is taking and cataloging colors and patterns. 

    You say concrete helps “capture chaos in flux” due to it’s unpredictable character. What has working with concrete taught you about letting go of control?
    Working with any material is always a balance between the material properties and your vision for the finished product. With concrete there are times when I have to fight to exert my will but I have to be very careful to pick my battles. If you can learn to work within the flow of a material you not only conserve energy but you also learn things that you would have never learned had you been fighting against the current. 

    From seating, to pipes, tables, and washrooms, what’s the wildest project you’ve been commissioned for?
    We made a set of life cast objects based off leather goods (wallets, belt, trays)  from BillyKirk. The detail was amazing, proper we're very surprised that they were concrete. We also made an amazing set of store display tables for Urban Outfitters last year, the colors chosen were very progressive, and it made for a striking group. 

    From large scale retail interior features to objet d’art, how do you design to/for scale?
    The aspect that takes the most design with scale is the mold. When mold making the biggest factor to deal with is hydraulic pressure. Worth a small mold there isn't much pressure but as you scale up the hydraulic pressure compounds, it's very easy to make a mistake with your pressure calculations on a large molds and end up with a ruined mold and concrete every where. A lot of time goes into mold design. 

    Where is the studio going? Any new territory you hope to tap into? 
    Fashion. I want to make clothes! 

    What are you most looking forward to this year?
    We've worked on a few collaborations including Urban Outfitters. We can't wait to see them all in the wild! 

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