Concrete love

WORDS Nadine Botha

Designers Handre de la Rey and Inge de Beer explain their love for concrete and their brand name 20 Eight. Yes, old materials do have new tricks!

Concrete is the most widely used human-made material in the modern world. It has formed the foundations of our cities, the walls of our dams, the fortifications of our buildings and the linings of our roads. Now, as urbanism engulfs our planet, concrete is slowly making headway into our decor and even fashion – just have a look at the examples we have collected from Matali Crasset, Kibisi, Florian Schmid and Klemens Schillinger to see how this international trend is gathering steam.

“Both of us had architect parents, so we grew up with concrete, its smell and texture,” says Inge de Beer, co-founder, with Handré de la Rey, of the 20 Eight design brand. “Our fascination with this material originates in our love for architecture.” We loved their concrete rings, bangles, bowls, plates and lights spotted at the Design Indaba Expo this year.

Far from the chunky ruggedness associated with concrete, the pieces maintain the colour and texture, but are as light and dainty as porcelain, albeit much hardier. Drop them and they won’t shatter, as Inge and Handré have tested this.

The couple’s exploration into concrete began about three years ago when their architecture lecturer challenged them to see how thin they could make concrete go. Since then they have been wearing and tearing the products until they were completely happy with the durability. 

This is only the beginning says Inge, who is currently completing an architectural internship in Pretoria while Handré completes a Master’s degree in Bloemfontein: “We started as an industrial design company but eventually we want to expand 20 Eight to include architecture and graphic design.”

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