In the photobooth with ...

In the Pho­to Booth with ... Heike Kluss­mann and Thorsten Kloost­er Au­thor: Rob Wil­son

It was a tight squeeze in our pho­to booth this is­sue: the artist Heike Kluss­man, the ar­chi­tect Thorsten Kloost­er, and a cou­ple of pie­ces of BlingCrete1 - the mul­ti-func­tio­n­al, light-re­flect­ing con­crete that they’ve de­vel­oped, pa­tent­ed, and that is com­ing soon to a build­ing near you …

Please de­scribe BlingCrete.

Heike Kluss­mann: It’s a new­ly de­vel­oped ma­te­rial that com­bines the heavy sur­face of con­crete with light-re­flect­ing qual­i­ties, cre­at­ed by embed­d­ing lit­tle spheres of glass in­to the con­crete to about 50 per cent depth. You im­me­di­ate­ly get a unique pris­mat­ic ef­fect, with each sphere act­ing as a retrore­flec­tor — mean­ing light is re­flect­ed away from its source at an equal and op­po­site an­gle.

What’s the back­ground of the prod­uct’s de­vel­op­ment?

Thorsten Kloost­er: It came out of a pro­ject Heike did for a sub­way sta­tion in Düs­sel­dorf. The idea there was to use light-re­flect­ing ma­te­rial but it turned out that noth­ing on the mar­ket com­plied with fire reg­u­la­tions, so some­thing new need­ed to be de­vel­oped.

Heike’s an artist, and she al­ready used retro-re­flec­tive ma­te­rials in her work, whilst I’m an ar­chi­tect, more on the tech­ni­cal and sci­en­tif­ic side, and have writ­ten a book on smart sur­faces. So we com­bined our two spe­cif­ic types of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence in mak­ing BlingCrete.

And the name?

HK: … of course comes from the hip-hop “bling”: shiny stuff, jew­el­ry.

So how can BlingCrete be used? What are its ap­pli­ca­tions?

HK: There are so many func­tio­n­al ap­pli­ca­tions: for re­flec­tive road mark­ings, in­dus­trial hazard signs, plat­form edges, tun­nels … and in ar­chi­tec­ture, it can be used on façades, in in­te­ri­or de­sign, as a way-find­ing sys­tem — or for small, spe­cial si­t­u­a­tions where a mes­sage or graph­ic needs to be seen but on­ly at a cer­tain point where the in­for­ma­tion is re­quired. It can al­so func­tion as a tac­tile sys­tem for blind peo­ple.

TK: What’s nice for de­sign­ers is play­ing around with ideas of the vis­i­ble and in­vis­i­ble, and the ma­te­rial’s spe­cial abil­i­ty to change from be­ing ac­tive to pas­sive.

So a bal­ance then be­tween use and beau­ty …

TK: There’s a big dis­cus­sion at the mo­ment about art and sci­ence. But our work on BlingCrete and func­tio­n­al­iz­ing con­crete sur­faces are prac­ti­cal pro­jects that com­bine th­ese two fields. What’s in­spir­ing is hav­ing the chance to work with peo­ple from all types of fields: sci­en­tists and ex­perts in ma­te­rial physics, along­side artists, ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers.

Our work is on ma­te­rials, but we are in­ter­est­ed in the im­ma­te­rial! We on­ly use the ma­te­rial as a ref­er­ence to things that are more con­cep­tu­al: that’s what we do.

About the Magazine

un­cube mag­azine
Con­crete 04
Baunetz Me­dia GmbH