Curated Collection

My Modern Midwest: Beyond Furniture Design

Minneapolis-based Concrete Pig is more than high-end furniture design – its conceptualization stems from the mind of a creator, tinkerer and builder, who is profoundly intrigued with the golden age of modernist design. Established in 2013, Concrete Pig has been the vehicle for this maker to handcraft one-of-a-kind, functional art that is highly influenced by modern imagery.

Learn about the Concrete Pig story in the exclusive Modern Midwest Q&A.

MM: How did you get into furniture craftsmanship?

CP: There were inklings early on that I would be headed down this path. I used to sketch when I was younger for hours on end. I always loved creating, building with my hands, and grew up around a family of carpenters. Fast forward to about 4 years ago—my wife and I moved into a cool little rambler built in ’61, in an area that has a lot of great midcentury driven homes. The perfect bones, but just enough work to the house to satiate the need to remodel and create. As I began demoing and rebuilding one of our bathrooms almost 3 years ago I slowly grew obsessed with concrete, and the idea of a floating concrete slab sink. At the same time I had poured this sink, I made my first official piece—a concrete coffee table for our living room. Before I knew it I had made almost 20 new pieces in my basement. A basement which I destroyed in doing so. I’ve since had to remodel my lower level as well due to being possessed by concrete.

MM: What’s the meaning behind the name Concrete Pig?

CP:  The idea initially was fairly simple. I mixed early on using powdered pigments, and the image of a pig slowly crept in. Months after building a few things I thought to myself, what if I took this furniture thing seriously, and came up with a name, an image… I must have written down nearly 100 names, and drawn up almost 50 different variations of a pig. But I always came back to the pig—Concrete Pig being the first name I had written down, and the last one I would always come back to. Conceptually I loved the pig—an animal that sort of holds this stigma in my opinion—and I thought to myself, if high-end furniture design was the goal, I loved the idea of a brand image that would resonate. Almost the opposite imagery you’d associate with modern furniture design.

MM: You seem to have a lot of love for mid-century modern design.  How is this integrated into your work?

CP: I love Eames, Le Corbusier and the like. Eames, the quintessential mid-century name. And who wouldn’t want to own an original lounge chair. I’ve always been obsessed with it. And Le Corbusier’s brutalist, minimalist vision and use of concrete has always hit a nerve. Earlier out of the gate with most of his furniture design but really leading the MCM movement with much of his work in my opinion, then later brutalist architecture in the 50’s and 60’s that would leave its mark. Clean, classic lines and form. Nothing over-done. Use only what you need. This is what attracts me to the golden age of modernist furniture design. All the basics that I try to incorporate in my own design.

MM: Where do you get your inspiration?

CP:   Music is at the top of the list. The radio, a playlist or particular album is always the first to get turned on when walking into the studio. I also draw from the city around me, and without a doubt look to some of my architect idols. I love simple and clean geometry and lines. Urban creation and decay. Seeing beauty in a random graffitied wall or mill scale finish on steel. Experimentation is fun. Making the occasional mistake is key. I could go more status quo… but it’s much more fun just following your gut, or a feeling that randomly surfaces and letting creation take hold from there. Just “follow the energy” as a friend once stated.

MM:  We’ve noticed that you’re pretty active in the Midwest arts scene – not limited to furniture – from collaborating with music festival Eaux Claires to partnering with Forage Modern Workshop at the Minnesota State Fair, you’ve shared your work with a variety of audiences. For you, what makes the Midwest, specifically Minneapolis, unique? 

CP: I love Minneapolis. It’s a good size city, just big enough… At least I know it felt big when I first moved here, but it gets small in a hurry. The arts and music scene here is like no other. I feel incredibly fortunate to be here doing what I am doing, during this time. There’s a sort of resurgence of creators, artists and makers, not just happening here but throughout the country. I love this city for its progressive nature, helping push art and music to the next level, helping shape where it will go to next beyond the Midwest.

MM: What’s one thing someone who isn’t familiar with Minneapolis should know about the city?

CP:  It’s beautiful here, all year-round. The winters can be brutal but there is always something to do. No shortage of lakes to run or bike around during the other 6-9 months of the year… depending on how harsh the winter decides to be… But undoubtedly Minneapolis boasts one of the, if not the best music and art scenes in the country. But then again I live here… of course I am going to say that.

MM: Any upcoming projects/collaborations in the works?

CP: I’d hope to continue to work with Eaux Claires and help to curate anything strange and unique in way of art. To help elevate the public experience during the festival. Work on getting another installation in an art gallery or two this year. Art and music is a main driver. My main inspiration. So anything that I can do, to be a part of, or contribute to in way of the local art scene, I want to get involved.

Want to know more? Concrete Pig’s story continues on the Modern Midwest Instagram.