John Vieweg, founder and head of Brooklyn-based furniture studio—The High Key, came to us this past summer with a project that skillfully leverages digital technology and artwork within the metaverse to create one-of-a-kind, custom furniture items with real materials. Vieweg set out to create artful digital chair designs as NFTs that are then sold, and once one has purchased the NFT version, they are entered into a raffle to win the real version of the chair. 8 out of the 1,000 digital chairs are awarded to the owners of these NFTs.
When Vieweg initially came to us with this innovative new concept and a rendered design to get started on, we were very excited. In order to make the piece logistically possible, we knew we had to implement a few technical changes and were eager to work with Vieweg on figuring out how to make his designs come to life.
After meeting with us and seeing some of our swatches, finishes, colors, etc., Vieweg went back and altered the design based on our specifications by making some structural changes to the design that would work better with the concrete medium.
One example is that in the original design, the legs of the piece were rendered as one with the entire concrete structure. As much we would have liked to make that happen, casting it all in one piece would not be feasible. We suggested instead, that the legs be cast separately and then added to the rest of the seat. Additionally, the piece had to be made light enough to be a reasonable weight, so we also developed a way to make the seat hollow.
Initially, the piece had been rendered as a terrazzo-like texture with very large and chunky stones. In the name of keeping the design as practical as possible without compromise, we further suggested that Vieweg go with a more fine or refined mix—our 'CRETE' blend. This change also allowed us to work with the curvature in the design and maintain its integrity. As you can imagine, terrazzo chunks, especially larger ones, would be harder to work into this design’s curved edges. By using ‘CRETE' we were able to find a happy medium that allowed for curvature and dynamic molded concrete, while also providing some nice texture overall and keeping the tight curves and radiuses Vieweg was looking for.
Another unique part of Vieweg's design was the incorporation of a wooden backrest with hole cut into it that allows light to pass through. We measured, cut, sanded and polished this part of the design in-house, saving Vieweg the hassle of going to multiple contractors.
Looking at the rendering now and then back at the piece in real life—they are almost identical. We are very proud of how close to the original we were able to keep this artwork when bringing it to life. The piece managed to retain its almost other-worldly, digital feel in the physical realm.
After this piece, we have had the pleasure of working with Vieweg on 2 more pieces and are excited to see where this takes our expertise and experimentation with multidisciplinary art and design. While we are a concrete shop, we also welcome designs that incorporate other materials such wood, steel, resin, glass, etc. and are eager to explore these opportunities with more collaborators in the future.