Whorl Console Wins 2017 Gray Award for Product Design
Whorl Console, designed and made by Neal Aronowitz, was the winner of the 2017 Gray Award for Product Design in the Furniture/Lighting category. The judges included Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid and Ingo Maurer.
The judges were impressed by the unique design and specialized casting techniques Aronowitz developed for the table. Ingo Maurer, who announced the winning design, noted that “It’s an incredible achievement – the studies he undertook, his enthusiasm for the material, his persistence in following his vision, and, of course, the shape. It’s a very nice product. I would like to have one.”
The innovative console table is made of Concrete Canvas, a patented concrete-impregnated fabric rarely used in furniture design.
Concrete Canvas is a new material that allows concrete to be used in radically innovative ways. The flexible, concrete-impregnated fabric hardens on hydration to form a thin, durable, waterproof and fire-resistant concrete layer – in essence, it is concrete cloth on a roll. It has been used to make rapidly deployable shelters, particularly in disaster-relief situations, as well as for erosion control and ditch lining. It reduces the environmental impact of concrete applications by up to 95%.
The idea behind the Whorl series was to make a handcrafted piece that has presence as both sculpture and as functional furniture. Aronowitz saw an opportunity, as he says, to “explore the material’s unique structural properties to express a fluid form, in contrast to the dense and heavy associations that we have with concrete.”
The challenge in the design and construction of this series was to stretch the tensile strength of the material to its limits for aesthetic beauty and interest, seemingly defying gravity. At the same time, each piece needs to maintain its structural integrity as a utilitarian object intended for everyday use.
Aronowitz developed new casting and forming techniques to achieve the table’s ribbon-like structure. The surface consists of pigmented cement mortar lightly skim-coated over the entire surface and sanded to a very smooth, highly polished finish.