Concrete Collaborative: Poured to Perfection
San Clemente-based Concrete Collaborative is a small company creating modern concrete and terrazzo finishes entirely in-house. Through partnerships with many designers across the U.S. as well as internationally, the company has produced an expansive range of indoor and outdoor concrete pavers, slabs, floor and wall tiles, toppings, and breeze blocks in dozens of patterns and colorways. The business is entirely family-run by five siblings and in-laws, each of whom brings a different set of skills to the table, from managing front-end business interactions, to production and logistics, to the technical and engineering aspect of the product. We caught up with Sally Smithwick, partner at Concrete Collaborative, to hear more.
Tell me about Concrete Collaborative. Can you give me the roadmap?
We are a small family team who manufactures concrete in SoCal. We started as a small team out of New York before opening our first factory in Oceanside, California. We now have grown to over 50 employees, three showrooms, two factories, and two warehouses. Our showrooms are located in San Francisco, New York City, and San Diego, along with our head office in San Clemente, CA. We are committed to concrete innovation and sophisticated, durable, versatile products for the A&D community. Our team of concrete artisans handcraft our products and we use small batches of responsibly sourced raw materials to create a product that has an organic quality and handmade feel that delivers incredibly long wearing, highly engineered, commercial grade products.
Have you always desired to work in the design industry?
Yes, I studied interior design and my father is a civil engineer who always worked with concrete so I have always had a passion about design and how things are made, especially when it comes to concrete.
What makes Concrete Collaborative different from other brands doing concrete?
Not all concrete is created equal. The most important thing to understand is the mix. Our mix is highly engineered to create a product that has a high-density and low porosity commercial grade product that’s still sophisticated for A&D community. We have an extensive range that all tie in together from floor and wall tiles, exterior pavers and pool copings, countertops, finished tabletops, stair treads, patterned encaustic cement tiles, wall textures, breeze-blocks, and poured-in-place toppings.
What is your most popular product?
Our Venice and Pacifica terrazzo for sure! We offer our cementitious terrazzo in tile, slabs, finished tops, and poured topping option, so it’s very versatile. Our terrazzo is a fresh take on traditional terrazzo. Our highly engineered mix uses the finest raw materials of natural stone aggregates, sand and cement to create highly durable, low maintenance concrete.
You value sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. Can you elaborate on this?
Yes, we certainly do! Both our product and process are environmentally preferable. We run a closed loop system which re-captures our water in our factory, we recycle our waste, we air cure our product so there are no emissions from baking or firing processes, we conform to strict manufacturing processes and our granite products have 40-percent pre-consumer recycled content. In terms of the product itself, we don’t use epoxy or resin constituents, it has high strength and durability, it’s recyclable, red list free, colorfast and UV stable, SRI tested, low maintenance, and we also offer permeable/green systems. We care a lot about what we do, how we do it, and our impact on the environment.
What were you planning to debut at ICFF this year? Did you end up launching the products on your own?
We have a bunch of new products in the works that we were planning on launching. Our newest collection on Breeze blocks, called Trestles, our new Half Moon line with Natalie Myers, a new Strands collection with Cooler Gallery out of Brooklyn, NY and a new finished top line called Rivi! We have launched three of these so far and starting to tease the fourth one. We are really excited about our two new lines, Trestles and Rivi. Trestles are our new throughbody, mid-century modern colored breezeblocks. They are available in 8-by-8-by-4-inch formats and 5 different patterns and 6 colors. Rivi is our finished terrazzo tabletops which are available in a range of mixes and shapes to suit any table base. They are polished and sealed to be heat and spill resistant and also suitable for exterior use as well.
How has the recent COVID-19 crisis affected your business?
We have been lucky that we have such a great team working for us. We have kept our factory open and now have our showrooms open by appointment only. We have kept quite busy just adapting to doing everything virtually, like everyone else. We used to run an architectural program, and participate in trade shows as our main way of connecting with the A&D community, but since COVID-19, I think social media has really been our outlet to do this. We’ve used this time to really collaborate and design and plan for the future. We have a lot of new stuff in the works—a new range with Dwell; custom breezeblock with Bromley Caldari Architects out of New York; a strands collection with Alex Proba, which is currently being made, so we’re pretty excited about that one; and a surf inspired range by Raili Clasen.
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