Conceptual Concrete Trend

Food and materials inspire one another, becoming a multi-sensorial form of creative expression. Food has graduated as a new design discipline to be reckoned with, encouraging people to be open and experiment more. Teaching our taste buds along the way, informing our visual aesthetics, and illustrating with gusto how ‘Form Follows Food’; the title of Caesarstone‘s latest trends publication. It’s time to explore our first trend from this series: CONCEPTUAL CONCRETE…


Urbanisation has seen the prolific conversion of abandoned industrial spaces into cultural centres, ateliers and incubators. The creative community paves the way for the rehabilitation of countless derelict buildings; developments that inspire newer ways of living, working and sharing. In the process, the decayed glory of our industrial areas and their stark structures has been laid bare, influencing design in general, including the design of food. 

Above: Baked buckwheat bread with almond butter, coloured with blueberry juice, piled on top of Excava 4046 Caesarstone.

There is an inherent beauty found in rawness and sturdy materials, reflecting the authentic textures of manufacturing, such as oxidised steel, poured plaster, sifted sand, piled fractions and fresh concrete. The rusted metals, heavy beams, exposed pipes, factory windows and cement floors have influenced the creation of robust interiors, radiators, lighting, room dividers and kitchens. These industrial elements are now becoming mature and gentrified, reaching a more sophisticated audience.

Above: Sii is an ancient alpine dessert made of old bread soaked in red wine, atop Raw Concrete 4004 Caesarstone.

This is how the taste for concrete was born, a trend that has reached epic proportions with everything turning to concrete-like materials: floors, walls and countertops, but also cupboards and barbecues, platters and cutting boards – even lamps when used in translucent sheets. The mixing of ingredients into a paste when making concrete is echoed by the felting of woollens, the pounding of paper, the plastering of clay and the recycling of plastic. These rugged material solutions are comforting, appeasing and make us feel safe. 

Above: A taste for hearty meals inspires grilled foods like brochettes with whole mushrooms and chunks of tempeh; an industrial robustness inherent in Caesarstone’s Rugged Concrete 4033.

The concept of cementing materials together is also already being reflected in food trends, where pulverised ingredients are compressed into cheese, bread, paste or smash – the newest form of the more rustic mash – original and contemporary, in never before seen textures. Foods will lend themselves to being spread, chiselled and pummelled with a painter’s spatula, like in conceptual art, turning the cook into an artisan at work. The creative consumer is part of the making process, finishing things by hand or personalising the item – and food is no exception.

Above: Savoury porridge is coarsely mixed with curcuma, saffron, pepper and wild blueberries; a rough approach like that of Rugged Concrete 4033 Caesarstone.

In the concrete kitchen, the mood is brutalist, inspiring sturdier foods, developed from local goat’s cheese, almond butter, buckwheat loaves, savoury porridge and other coarse recipes such as sii, a revived Helvetic dessert made from soaking bread chunks in red wine. Earthy ingredients such as root vegetables and mushrooms are grilled on open flames, then served as protein alternatives. Food presentation is improvised as well, with meals spooned and slapped directly onto plates and planks, smeared with artistic freedom. The craftsmanship in food preparation reflects a bigger picture: objects and materials that express a handmade gesture are an antidote to people feeling alienated and fatigued from too much technology.


Matt Manning in his Chef's Studio
The latest local trends from Design Joburg

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