John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Note to movers: Lift from the knees.
Think moving a stack of college textbooks or lifelong LP collection across the country is tough? Try humping this set of concrete furniture to your U-Haul – just looking at it can trigger phantom back pain.
Parisian industrial designer Matali Crasset created the toe-squashing product line for this month's Interieur 2012 festival in Kortrijk, Belgium, because she wanted to "tame concrete to so that it will be better incorporated into the heart of our daily life." And it looks as if the Philippe Starck protégé has succeeded: Once you manage to get a 154-pound bookshelf into your apartment, it's probably going to stick with you for a long, long time.
That's the medium-weight item in this leaden collection. The lightest one is a lamp, modeled after these insane WWI-era "early warning sound mirrors" stationed around England. The lamp is fabricated from high-performance concrete and a molded acrylic sheet and tips the scales at 40 pounds. You won't be accidentally knocking this baby over!
The table is the king boulder of this stony menagerie, though. With room for 10 people, it's an immense thing, more monument than furniture. Despite having a honeycombed core that makes it four times less heavy than a solid-concrete table, it still succeeds at weighing 265 pounds. Note that you can buy a solid pine table from IKEA – with four chairs – and add only 68 pounds to your gross house tonnage. They both have a prominent wood grain, too.
Crasset is collaborating with the Montreuil Juigne-based company LCDA to get her Brutalist line on the market. LCDA has quite a trove of furniture made from the same stuff as buildings, including this wonderful "Le Cube," a block of that could stop an armored vehicle.
Should you ever wish to disassemble your trendy construction-material furniture, the first step is simple: Buy a jackhammer.
Photos courtesy of Simon Bouisson.