“Nothing else is quite like concrete,” says Kast Concrete’s founder and managing director Tim Bayes. The word’s been out about concrete’s versatility and modern warmth for some time, having recovered from the period when it was most closely identified with the severe austerity of Brutalist structures like Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse and London’s Barbican Centre & Estate. Even as 20th-century Brutalism has undergone its own appreciative reevaluation, concrete itself has taken on a new, more approachable cast, centering its organic qualities more than its fearsome strength – qualities that Bayes well understands. “Concrete starts out life as a liquid and combines the organic characteristics of natural stone with the ability to be cast into any shape and color. Its versatility enables us to engineer products that push the boundaries of design. Aside from all this versatility, we think concrete has a certain magic to it, too. It’s a stone that cures. It’s alive in some ways. No two pieces are ever the same. It also has a contemporary context that other stone materials don’t have.”
Bayes first came to consider concrete’s material qualities growing up in Switzerland. “I was inspired by the use of architectural concrete and the way it could be manipulated into unique shapes and forms,” he says. “It was this experience that drew me to the purity of the material and showed me the potential of its limitless nature in terms of contemporary product design.” While a student at the University of Westminster his fascination with it grew. Over the next two decades, he would come to dedicate his work life to reckoning with its strength and beauty, experimenting with its suitability for commercial applications ranging from furniture design to interior surfaces.
Kast’s products reflect that versatility. The Aura washbasin is minimalist but substantial, while the Iva is elegant, with Art Deco touches. The twin-sink, Sienna, wouldn’t have looked out of place in Oscar Isaac’s lair in Ex Machina, while the Sono looks ready for installation in 2023’s best new restaurants. For a single product (basins) and a single material (concrete), Bayes and his team are able to evoke a remarkable range of periods, moods, and aesthetics in 28 colors – from white to black, stopping by Mineral, Thistle, and Duck Egg, among others. That single focus is no accident. “We were the first dedicated collection of concrete wash basins in the world, and the first to bring patterned concrete basins to the market with the launch of our Kast Canvas collection in 2018,” Bayes says. “Since then, we have continued to innovate, pushing the boundaries of form, color, and material within the bathroom industry.” (He also shared that “some exciting new product developments” are coming later this year.)
Though you might not guess that concrete can have a sense of terroir – that ineffable quality of material attachment to the land from which it comes – Bayes feels his materials are deeply connected to the nearby Sherwood Forest and the surrounding landscape in central England’s Nottinghamshire. “Sherwood Forest is one of the oldest and most important habitats in Britain, and over the years it has helped support local communities and several industries,” he says. “Our factory continues the rich industrial history of Nottinghamshire, employing the best makers, engineers, and craftspeople in the area. Years of knowledge and experience with a variety of materials and physical making skills underpins and elevates our design process. The collaboration between our factory and design studio gives us full control and flexibility when it comes to designing and making, and it’s what allows us to continue to improve and innovate.”
As Bayes developed the brand’s online identity, he focused on Squarespace because of its technical versatility and an aesthetic sense that meshed well with Kast: sleek, modern, efficient. “We were initially drawn to Squarespace due to the look and feel of the design-led templates that we felt aligned well with our brand and would want to emulate, even if we were building a website from scratch,” he says. “This, coupled with the simple, user-friendly interface, meant that we were able to quickly and easily build a professional-looking portfolio website that lets our branding, images, and products take center stage.”
Bayes also appreciated that the ease of use meant that his team could update the site, adding new features or information, without relying on expensive outside help – and that they could move forward with a minimum of fuss, wait, or expense. “It’s easy to maintain, which means we can regularly update the website with fresh, new content,” he says.
Given his absolute commitment to both utility and beauty, Bayes says that Squarespace was the perfect partner. “Squarespace gives us the level of control we need to manage our content easily and efficiently, which has been invaluable to us as a small but fast-growing company,” he says. “Our website is now fully aligned with our design values and aesthetics, which creates a great first impression for new customers.”
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