Design trends: concrete

Concrete is an unashamedly brutal material now reinvented by designers inspired by modernist architecture, to create anything from wallpapers to rugs and tables.
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For raw industrial chic, nothing beats concrete. But if bare concrete walls are too harsh to handle, you can still get the look, using one of the new photo-realistic wallpapers that come with a choice of concrete effects.

Concrete looks great contrasted with soft textures, such as velvet cushions/curtains, or fake-fur throws. Modernists love to mix it with glass, metals and wood. Warm colours will soften the look — creamy beige and deep chocolate look good with concrete as do neon brights. And mood lighting softens the look and highlights the texture.

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1. Five-sided barbie
Concrete hexagons, adapted to contain fires or act as tables and benches, can be assembled into different designs, with the simplest (one-and-a-half hexagons) starting at £584.

This arrangement costs £1,124 from Garden Beet (020 3397 2377;
2. Rough, rough
Here is a contemporary home for the modern dog — or dog owner — with architectural attitude.

Made from lightweight fibre and reinforced concrete, it comes in three sizes, from £93.60 from Garden Beet (020 3397 2377;
3. Steel, glass, concrete
Less is more — the famous maxim of modernist architects — is also the name of this new table from Roche Bobois with glass top, girders in matt black lacquered aluminum and a raw concrete base.

Priced at £4,448 (020 8874 9818;
4. Solid table
Leigh Cameron's Skeleton of Trees wood and concrete table (about £1,000; will be on show at New Designers Part 2, which runs from July 3 at Business Design Centre, Upper Street, N1 (
5. Wallpapers that rock
Surface View's Textures collection for wall murals is high-definition imagery of real-life wall surfaces. This concrete bespoke wall mural costs from £35 a square metre (0118 922 1327;
6. Tough rug
This concrete rug by Alex Chinneck ( is assembled from about 280 individual pieces, which are cut by water jet from standard paving slabs, 5mm thick, and held in place by a frame in ash wood or in polished steel.

"It's definitely made to be walked on," says Chinneck, who can also embed this design into a floor of, say, poured concrete, or wood. Made to order in any size, the rug costs about £1,100 and is 100cm by 1,180cm.

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