Trendculture : Concrete

October 2022


Yes, concrete, a material that is both loved and hated, has deeply marked our civilization.

A little history ...

As early as antiquity, the Romans were already making it.
A true "artificial stone", concrete is a versatile and inexpensive material, hence its worldwide success.
It is composed of gravel and sea sand to which a binder is added: cement, bitumen or even clay.
Mixed with water, it can be molded or poured.
During the Industrial Revolution, the invention of reinforced concrete, with integrated steel bars, allowed for taller and taller constructions.
From the 50's to the 70's, concrete was used for great architectural innovations: La Cité Radieuse designed by the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, or the city of Brasilia created ex-nihilo by Oscar Niemeyer. It was the advent of brutalism, a striking architectural movement that glorified the radical nature of raw concrete.
Much decried, it is now back in fashion and finds new expressions. After the geometric and angular forms, the concrete adopts thereafter curved and rounded forms. Its raw appearance is lightened with brighter shades.

And above all, the vintage concrete of the 30 Glorieuses, fashion loves it!

Louis Vuitton showed at the Niterói Museum of Contemporary Art in Brazil and at Terminal 5 of the New York airport, designed by Eero Saarinen in the 1960s.
Dior showed at the famous Palais Bulle, owned by Pierre Cardin and located on the Mediterranean.
Karl Lagerfeld even created clothes for Chanel in concrete "lace". And the iconic label Comme des Garçons, has even made a perfume.

And what about concrete today?

Today concrete has entered the design world, from decorative objects to lamps to bathrooms and floors in waxed concrete. It even becomes translucent, thanks to integrated optical fibers. It is becoming lighter with new compositions that combine finesse and solidity. And today, concrete is exploring the promising possibilities of 3D printing. New textures and shapes are emerging, thanks to the technique of molding in fabrics.

And tomorrow?

Marine sand, the only material suitable for the production of concrete, is becoming dramatically scarce and its exploitation is degrading the environment. New, more sustainable alternatives must be found, such as recycling construction debris or metallurgical waste. Researchers are exploring the possibilities of sand from other sources such as river dredging sediments or even ... desert sand! A resource that until now has proved unusable for building.
We are seeing a return to more natural constructions with local soils, such as clay, which can advantageously replace cement.
We are even thinking of 3D printing houses with raw earth, thus completely doing without concrete!

In conclusion, the future of concrete will depend entirely on our inventiveness and vision for tomorrow's urban planning.

See you soon for the next Trendculture!

Thomas Zylberman
Fashion Expert

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