This ConQrete Light is one product of California based designers Zhuoxin Fang and Qianqian Xu’s ConQrete product series and the first prototype of their ConQrete Light-city series. It was inspired by the cold urban concrete forest in our city and the warm natural light shower from the sun during the day time. Is there a way to incorporate some warmth into the cold concrete? That was where they started.
Concrete is existing with a sense of coldness while light always brings warmness, both mentally and physically. The contrast between the cold and warm is essential to this design. Different materials are tested to find the best combination and mix, from testing different concrete mix to exploring materials which can carry light through concrete in a subtle way.
Eventually, we found optical fiber, which is a thin translucent flexible fiber with a glass core through which light can be transported with very little loss strength. What is great about this material is that the light transportation function inside the fiber will not be affected when surround by concrete. Additionally, it is so thin and almost invisible when there is no light inside.
For the concrete, we decide to add some local marks and memories into the material to make it unique and with a sense of belonging. Local sand from San Diego beaches is added into the concrete mix. It is both spiritually sensible and physically visible since the color of the sand will in turn render a natural tone onto the concrete finish.
What is amazing and unique about the sand is that within 30 miles of San Diego’s coastline, there are three different colors of sand on the beaches: white, yellow and black. As a result, we have three natural color tones for the concrete finish. We thought, it is a good way to show respect to the nature as well as to highlight the local environmental features through our design.
After the materials have been choose, we started to apply them to the design. The first prototype is an irregular concrete Hexahedron with optical fibers from inside to one surface of the outside. The optical fibers are invisible from the concrete finish surface when there is no light while when the LED light inside the concrete turned on, the light will be transported through the fibers to the surface of the concrete, generating a light pattern on the concrete finish surface, consisting with hundreds of tiny and subtle light spots.
When we light up the ConQrete Lights on the beaches after sunset, the light pattern on the surface is both subtle and strong, giving a profound power into the eyes and mind through the light, which is embraced by the beach and ocean.
After the first prototype of ConQrete Light, we are continue exploring the remix of local materials from different places and inspiration from local environment into the ConQrete Light. More ConQrete Light -city series are on the way.
Our ConQrete product series is an on-going project exploring breaking the boundaries and remixing different materials.
Zhuoxin Fang | Qianqian Xu