Cement has gone from being an essential but banal element of architecture to the new darling of the design world
Chic cement sounds like an oxymoron. How can a material used for sidewalks or skyscrapers be anything but ordinary? While most get boxed in by cement’s unattractive qualities, designers have been shining the spotlight on this humble material. In fact, the Dalmia Bharat Group, a leading manufacturer of cement, saw the potential and invited internationally acclaimed designers to take a stab at forging a new identity for the stuff. The result: Craft Beton, a two-day exhibition in Delhi, which displayed over 50 different decor products (home accessories, lighting, furniture and jewellery) made from green cement (which has a low carbon footprint). “We started working on this a year ago and it is our endeavour to showcase its beauty to the world,” says Sundeep Kumar, executive director, corporate affairs and corporate communication at the Dalmia Bharat Group. They brought in four people with a design background—art curator Iti Tyagi, designer Somesh Singh, sculptor Miroslaw Baca and industrial designer Alan Saga—for a three-and-a-half month residency. “Most of them had never worked with cement and at the end of it they wondered why they had not done so earlier,” says Kumar. Most of the products exhibited are limited edition, handmade.