Concrete is no longer simply the dull grey surface that gets hidden under something more stylish- it is now becoming something of a modern look to crave (see, for example, Andrea Maffei’s DOT or Kaza Concrete‘s successful rebranding of concrete as a luxurious material). Companies like Lucem have taken it to another level, embedding LEDs to create luminous building materials that provide an atmospheric glow. And yet another approach is taken by Lucem’s fellow German company BlingCrete creating a flash, sparkling joy.
Making use of concrete’s established characteristics, the simple addition of glass beads turns this famously durable building material into a glittering delight through retroreflection. The process of retroreflection sends rays of light directly back in the direction they came from through small glass spheres, giving the appearance of the surface being internally lit.
To alter the surface effect, bead placement and density are offered in various styles, and the colours range from whites and neutrals to vivid reds, yellows, and blues, etc. The size of the beads also differs from 0.7mm to 7mm. The standard bead size is 2mm, and a combination can be used to create various looks. They can be placed in any design with the beads enabling grid patterns, letter formation, and random scattering with various levels of saturation.
The design possibilities of BlingCrete have not gone unnoticed, especially in terms of its applications in everyday life- for example, in road safety. In 2014 they won the International Tunneling & Underground Spaces Award for Product/Equipment Innovation of the Year for its potential use in tunnels, roads, and train platforms.
In terms of its architectural use, it has an incredibly stunning visual impact. The beads, when used both sparsely and en masse, have a magical quality that draws the eye with their luxurious appeal. One can only imagine the how fabulously blinding BlingCrete would be covering an entire building.
A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, July 2019.