In a world of woods and industrial metals, what draws you to concrete and can you elaborate on your design process?
There are a few reasons behind why I like to work with concrete…
Certainly I am drawn to the durability and utility of the medium, but most notably I like the aesthetics of the material; concrete can ultimately convey a modern or a rustic character. For instance, I use and test a lot of the products that we produce. I find that after a year or so, a salt cellar (or any of our products) will develop a patina that gives the object a sort of ancient quality. From my perspective, the clean, simple, and austere design of our products are only complemented by this ancient quality, indeed, I believe that the resulting product is greater than the sum of the parts that constitute it. It is this unique character, which is more or less unique to concrete that leads me to believe that concrete is more than just a viable material for kitchenware.
As far as my design process, I really try to keep it simple. I am fortunate to have access to a very well-equipped machine shop. With that being said, the reality is that access to the tooling that I have can actually be a drawback when I am designing products. In other words, when there are few limitations to what I can do in the shop, I have a hard time reigning myself in. It is in this way that I believe that limitations can be advantageous. Consequently, I impose the limitations of simplicity and function to my products. All of my products are informed by the simplicity, elegance, and the economy of nature. I believe that gratuity is anathema to good design.
We’re used to post-winter potholes and cracked pavement as city dwellers. How do your concrete designs withstand wear-and-tear?
Concrete mix designs are extremely varied. Concrete can display fantastic qualities – ultra-high strengths, luminosity, flexibility…the list goes on.
What I have tried to do with our concrete is create a mix that is consistent, strong, tactile, and ductile (without using any chemicals). This is achieved by superior particle gradation as well as the incorporation of extremely small particulate within our concrete mix. I use a whole host of different aggregates, but it is noteworthy to mention that the largest constituent is actually recycled marble dust that I get from a stone producer a few towns over. This is material that would probably get tossed, but instead it gives our products a surface that is a lot stronger than regular concrete!
I don’t do a lot of things well but after 15 years of testing, tweaking, and researching, our concrete products are created with concrete that is superior in most every way to concrete that you would find elsewhere. In fact, our concrete is aesthetically and physically more similar to ceramic than it is to concrete. The intrinsic quality and strength of our products is what enables us to offer an unconditional lifetime guarantee.
Both handmade and eco-friendly, can you describe the Culinarium mission and what you hope to convey to the design community?
Our mission is to create products that are elegantly simple and most importantly, I want our products to be functional. We want to offer our customers a great experience. Every one of our products is handmade by someone who gives a damn. I don’t just go through the motions when I create a product…I love everything that we create. I am proud to be able to produce the products that we do. I think that these facts translate to a superior product in every way.