We use fantastic small businesses, local suppliers and craftsmen and women for our boxes. We like to spread the word about their good work and showcase them in our boxes to our subscribers.
Our boxes are always full of products from people who create what they love and products from small businesses you may not have seen before.
One of these great suppliers is Kevin from Concrete Forest. His story is charming and steeped in Denmark, Ireland and Hygge so we caught up with him to find out more!
Kevin was born in
Denmark. His father is Danish and his mother Irish.
Drawing upon the clean refined designs that are synonymous with Danish design. Incorporating that with the hands on approach to creating things out of textured raw materials which is prevalent in Ireland. Kevin has created gorgeous concrete products that we love.
2. Where did the idea of Concrete Forest originate from?
The idea of Concrete Forest came from my love of Danish design and of making things. It seemed to be a natural progression to just combine the two.
The name is a play on ‘Concrete Jungle’ as I wanted to combine raw urban materials with natural textures. I also wanted to include an element of woodwork in the brand. Some of my earliest memories are of watching my Dad make furniture in his workshop. In fact the chair I sit on in my studio was made by him. He had an ‘if you need it, you can make it’ attitude which I feel isn’t as prevalent in society today. My Uncle is a successful carpenter and my very first Summer job was spent working with him. I developed a real love of a hands on approach to making, which could also be in my genes as my Mother is a painter and sculptor.
I studied graphic design in college and since graduating I have constantly been working on other people’s projects, while always wanting to create something of my own. I lived in Berlin after graduating and worked for various start ups in the tech industry. In my spare time I was making things and when I moved back to rural Ireland we moved to a house overlooking a pine forest. I turned the spare room into a workshop and started making products out of concrete for fun as a hobby. I realised that I really loved doing it and when I felt that I had developed the process and designs enough (after many months of prototyping!) I decided to launch the brand. So, it all developed organically over time and is rooted in my past.
3. What do you enjoy about working with concrete?
I really enjoy taking a sometimes overlooked and mundane material and transforming it into a refined piece of design. When I launched the brand recently at a craft and design fair, I loved the fact that customers were mistaking the dark Hygge candle holders as granite. The challenge of using an inexpensive material like concrete and refining it into something that is high end and quite beautiful really appeals to me. If a material is worked on enough it can be completely transformed, it just takes a lot of experimenting and practice.
When I started doing this, I thought that concrete was just mixing powder and water. But it really is a science. I spent a huge amount of time reading up about it (on some very boring websites!). The attention really is in the detail and some of those details can be measured out to the gram- factors like temperature and humidity can drastically change the final outcome. I am even finding that, as we get into the Winter, the weather is playing a role in this! Since I started working with concrete I have developed a whole new respect when I walk into a building that has a beautifully polished concrete floor.
4. What is your favourite part of Danish Design?
When a designer focuses on function to such an extent that a beautiful form naturally arises. An example would be the famous PH lamps by Poul Henningsen. The lamps are designed so you only see reflected light and never the naked bulb. The form of the lamp looks sculptural but when you understand it’s purpose you realise that it has a very simple function.
5. What parts of danish living have you brought to Ireland? How do you do Hygge in Ireland?
Definitely Danish food. I still love to make these recipes today and a favourite desert in our house is Æbleskiver. My brother who lives near Roskilde posted over a solid cast iron Æbleskiver pan years ago for Christmas. I pity the poor postman! The most important part of a roast dinner is the gravy, or ‘sovs’ in Danish, which should always be made from scratch and it is a mortal sin to run out of it!
My friends have also never been able to understand my love of salted liquorice!
6. What does Hygge mean to you?
Comfort, good times, relaxation and contentment.
Hygge in the most general sense for me is a focus on comfort and I have always associated it with friends and get togethers. Sitting around a table and talking without a care in the world.
Oh and our wood burning stove, last christmas there was a power cut and we had to to sit around our stove with candles lit around the house, it was very ‘Hyggeligt’ indeed.
7. What is your favourite Danish Christmas Tradition?
Growing up we always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve which meant that Christmas was more of a night-time thing. Perhaps this is related to ‘hygge’, candles lit around the room and a real sense of family. A big Christmas lunch on the 26th for extended family and friends is also a Danish tradition that I love. The Christmas lunch would generally happen over several hours and would have many courses, including pickled herring which must be accompanied with a tipple of schnapps!. Since getting married I have kept this tradition up with my wife.
Want to know more about Concrete Forest take a look here
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