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The Unbearable Lightness of Fiber-Cement Furniture

The Unbearable Lightness of Fiber-Cement Furniture
Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl

The idea of turning cold, raw materials into elegant shapes has always fascinated artists, architects, and designers. In the Carrara marble sculptures of Lorenzo Berdini and Michelangelo, human forms were carved from heavy blocks of stones with great detail and precision. There is no difference in architecture: from taking a light volume off the floor, to leaving a small indentation between a structure and a fence, to altering the lining of a block, there are several devices to make buildings visually lighter.

Cortesia de Swisspearl Cortesia de Swisspearl Cortesia de Swisspearl Cortesia de Swisspearl + 21

Fiber cement furnishings can take the material to its limits. Light and resistant, waterproof, durable and fully recyclable, the Swiss company Swisspearl's product consist of organic and elegant shapes made from fiber cement sheets.

Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl

Explorations with the material began with Willy Guhl in 1954, a former Swiss cabinet maker, who began developing objects with the mix. Its well-known creation, the Loop Chair, marketed by the Eternit company worldwide, has become a sales success, with its organic and infinite form and a very fine point of contact to the ground. Extremely open to experimentation with new materials, Guhl's works are characterized by their simplicity, utility and function.

Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl

The products are made from a blend that includes cement, limestone powder, cellulose and fibers, resulting in light but durable pieces, resistant to rain, ice and uninterrupted sun exposure. The process of manufacturing the parts is relatively simple. On a mold printed in 3D, the plate is pressed, which soon acquires the same curvatures. After that, the excesses are cut and the piece remains there until dry. After demolding and a quick sanding, the part is ready to receive glass or go to the market, depending on the model. The interesting thing is that these objects can be used inside and outside.

Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl

The Cloth Table, designed by Matteo Baldassari, for example, comes from extensive research on the possibilities of the material, coupled with performance simulation and robotic fabrication. According to the company, "The main goal of our research was to achieve a project shaped by gravity and natural forces using physics engines. These simulations, combined with prototyping and material research, lead us to a sculptural design. The computational approach follows and highlights the qualities of the material in terms of aesthetic and structural properties, allowing the creation of a single table."

Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl

The Seater is a furniture piece that uses another approach to the material. Designed by the Slovenian architect Tina Rugelj, the shape of the furniture takes advantage of the unique qualities of fiber cement: slenderness, minimum bend, the strength of the material. The Seater is produced with a left or right armrest. The two variants can be combined to create a two-seat armchair. It is made of sheets with 16 mm of thickness and celebrates the look and feel of rough concrete. This means that small imperfections are visible on the surface and the material gains a patina as it ages.

Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl
Cortesia de Swisspearl

Get to know other products in fiber cement on the official website of Swisspearl and surprise yourself with the possibilities.

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About this author
Cite: Souza, Eduardo. "The Unbearable Lightness of Fiber-Cement Furniture" [Mobiliários de fibrocimento: leveza e resistência] 31 Jan 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/909856/the-unbearable-lightness-of-fiber-cement-furniture/> ISSN 0719-8884
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