January is a great time for making changes towards improving your life and getting the most out of the new year, but it is also a great time to update your living space. In fact, January was named so in honor to Roman god Ianus – the god of beginnings. In Europe, beginning of the year is traditionally abundant in furniture fairs.
When it comes to furniture, Europe has always been knows as a trendsetter, laying a special emphasis on innovative design and high quality standards. Top-notch furniture synonymous with the Nordic countries. Numerous trade shows organised throughout every year are a great chance for young designers to showcase their work and launch successful careers, while furniture lovers, on the other hand ,get to enjoy the finest pieces European market has to offer. The most prestigious are the Milan Furniture Fair and imm Cologne, which consequently attract the largest number of visitors. One of the latest furniture trends, that goes beyond classic and traditional and draws a lot of interest is, most certainly, concrete furniture, made of concrete canvas.
What is concrete canvas?
Concrete canvas is a flexible concrete impregnated fabric that hardens on hydration to form a thin, durable, fire resistant and water proof concrete layer. It consists of a three-dimensional fibre matrix, containing a specially formulated dry concrete mix. A PVC backing on one surface of the Canvas ensures the material is waterproof, while hydrophilic fibers on the opposite surface aid hydration by drawing water into the concrete. Concrete Canvas can be used to create waterproof, fireproof, fiber-reinforced thin concrete forms across a range of applications: water management, erosion control, cable protective covering, pipeline protection, mining applications, rapidly deployable emergency shelters etc.
Being different has always been a good business strategy. In order to stand out and stand up to emerging competition, designers regularly need to pursue new approaches and incorporate new materials into their work. The final product then has to be different, to express the artist’s identity and most importantly to meet the exclusive requirements of the market. As for concrete canvas, turning ideas into marketable commodities often requires a wide range of skills, patience and getting your hands dirty. It’s daring and unconventional, but revolutionary, as well.
Meet Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen
Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen is an award-winning designer from Finland. He got his education in furniture design at the Lahti Institute of Design, Finland (2006-2010) and at the renowned Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands (2010-2012). His work has been exhibited on, among others, Dutch Design Week, Stockholm Furniture Fair and imm Cologne 2013. His work has also been featured in the prestigious magazines such as Vogue, Elle Decor, Case da Abitare, Hi Home, Form, Home Art and others.
Ever since I was a child I had a particular interest towards manipulating and transforming matter into my own expression of the physical world; probably to understand it better. Back then this mostly meant destroying and mutilating objects and other things around me out of curiosity.
I grew a little bit older, and luckily, I had not forgotten my primordial interests and I commenced myself to work towards a goal where my childhood experiments could eventually become a profession of interest and passion.
After receiving my BA degree in furniture design in Lahti University of Design I continued to pursuit more conceptual framework for my design in Design Academy Eindhoven, MA Contextual Design department. As a fresh Cum Laude graduate, I’m anxious to start my career as a freelance designer/artist in various projects regardless of geographical boundaries.
I consider myself lucky to possess a broad tool set in design, and I see myself working in projects ranging from practical industrial design to more theoretical and conceptual. My current interest in design is about elevating the tedious functionality of everyday objects in our domestic environment by projecting more value onto them through psychological means. - Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen
Solidification is the name of one of the Tolvanen’s projects, made completely and only of concrete canvas. As a minimalistic-design lover myself, I was impressed that a heavy and dusty material as concrete canvas can turn into something neat and aesthetically pleasing. The objective was playing with form and exploring the possibilities of concrete canvas to create experimental furniture for domestic environment.
Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen first started out by making a 1:10 scale models from fabric and glue to imitate the material. After making a maquette from thick rubber carpet a collapsible mold was used to put the flexible material into position. The same mold was used for the concrete canvas. After making the pattern and after cutting and sewing the concrete canvas, it was placed on top of the mold and fixed into position. Then the whole thing went under water for approximately 6 hours. After drying overnight, the mold was disassembled and this unconventional piece of furniture was ready for use.
*Many thanks to Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen for kindly providing me with all the necessary informations and photographs for this article!