I first started making my concrete side tables after experimenting with casting concrete.
My first effort involved making up small melamine moulds approximately 400 x 300 x 50mm. I felt this would be a good size to make quite a few experimental pieces but also, importantly, be able to move them around easily. Plus I would not be too worried if they ended up in the skip!
So, after making approx. 15-20, I started to get the hang of the process and the mix right. With this, I naturally started to think about how I could turn this basic 400 x 300mm concrete slab into a great piece of furniture.
I would love to say I sat down at my computer and started working frantically on my CAD software, but truth be told, I have no clue how to work CAD software!! I’m still not entirely sure what CAD stands for.
Going with what I know, I set off to my local garden centre to purchase a bundle of bamboo canes and take them back to my workshop. After an hour or so of cutting them up into pieces and binding them together with electrical tape, I had something that just about resembled what I wanted to build.
Next step was to take my contraption over to my welder. He was less than impressed. With one eyebrow raised, he looked at me like I was either drunk or blindfolded whilst I was putting my prototype together.
Undeterred, I decided to push on as always and convinced him to make a metal version to introduce at least some form of structural integrity to my idea.
After what felt like a long time and a lot of cursing from the welder, I had a concrete slab and a pile of metal.
A promising start so far
Finally I was feeling like I was getting somewhere. Unfortunately, to anyone who passed by my workshop, they must have thought I had just raided a local builder's skip.
The very first side table I put together was as basic as it gets. Just a concrete slab resting on top of the metal base.
With the aim of selling these bespoke concrete tables in the shop, I would have to think of a way to fuse the two parts together to make to a “proper” piece of furniture.
The solution was to cast the legs into the concrete along with an internal reinforcing metal grid, to strengthen the concrete and also firmly secure the legs into the table top. This is still the solution we use today.
It's great to see the original smooth concrete side table still selling well in the shop.
To the beach!
Having got to grips with the process and the tables looking a little rustic but pretty smart and uniform, I decided to take the obvious next step forward….and went to the beach for some time out!
Sat on the stony beachfront at Dungeness, I decided to make a side table that was inspired by this very place: a bit rough around the edges and more like it is falling apart!!
Funnily enough, to get this effect it actually takes more effort to build and more manufacturing time than the smooth side tables take.
I love the result. The Dungeness Concrete Side Tables are one of our best selling pieces of bespoke furniture. Every table is different but they all have the same great rustic and distressed industrial look I love.
The futureMoving forward and evolving on my Dungeness side tables, I am experimenting with shot blasting the metal and then leaving the legs outside exposed to the elements to allow them to oxidise (go rusty).
Once oxidised for a few weeks, I plan to have a lacquer applied to stop the rust from bleeding and marking fabrics and soft furnishings.
On top of this, I am in talks with a local graffiti artist to come along and “tag” some of my pieces for a more urban look.
Whilst the next steps in the development of the Dungeness side tables will not be to everyone’s liking, I believe they are going to be some of the most exciting.
As the tables were born out of experimentation, it feels right to keep progressing. Watch this space :-)