Flexible concrete cloth has made possible the swooping shapes of this console designed by Portland-based Neal Aronowitz.
The Whorl Console is created using a patented material by UK company Concrete Canvas – a material formed from fabric impregnated with cement, which has previously been used to cover disaster-relief shelters.
The pliable cloth can be moulded into any shape, before it is wet so it sets and hardens as a thin layer that is resistant to wear, water and fire. "In essence, it is concrete cloth on a roll," said a statement from Aronowitz, who runs his own design studio.
Concrete Cloth has been around for almost a decade, and won the Material of the Year 2009 award. Its main use to date was in rapidly deployable shelters, due to the ease of creating curved structures from roll-out strips, although a few product designers purposed it for items like stools.
"It reduces the environmental impact of concrete applications by up to 95 per cent," said Aronowitz's statement.
The designer's aim with that project was to "explore the material's unique structural properties to express a fluid form, in contrast to the dense and heavy associations that we have with concrete".
He tested the tensile strength of the material and pushed it as far as he deemed possible, while striving to retain his vision for the product's aesthetic.
The resulting furniture piece is constructed by folding the material back on itself in wide loops several times. This creates a slender but sturdy structural support, and elevated height, for the flat surface on the top.
Aronowitz developed his own casting technique to produce the ribbon-like shapes. The pigmented cement is also sanded to a smooth polished finish.
The Whorl Console recently won a 2017 Gray Award for Product Design in the furniture/lighting category, selected by judges including designers Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid and Ingo Maurer.