For years, I made short-shrift of concrete block, associating it with the clunky cinderblock-and-pine shelves beloved by frugal college students, or bleak, prison-like garages and homemade tool sheds. I’d  pass cheap, strong concrete blocks at construction sites and lumber yards, and wonder what I could do with them. Although I’m crazy about concrete, I seemed to have no imagination for concrete block.

Lately, new visions of concrete block have come my way, and opened my eyes to possibilities.

Two are from the inspiring treasure of a book I bought recently: Marcel Breuer: Sun and Shadow The Philosophy of an Architect I was knocked out by a simple outdoor table Breuer designed in the fifties: a rectangular slab of stone propped on a column of mortared concrete blocks.

From the same book: a concrete block wall painted cobalt blue, a lesson in concrete block’s affinity for modern design and the intriguing possibilities for painting them.



Then, a home featured in The New York Times featured a concrete block fireplace, lightened by sleek lines and a glass surround that brings in light and a view. (It turns out, this is a design solution created by Breuer in the fifties.)

The New York Times
The New York Times


Did I really know what I was talking about when I naively panned concrete blocks? I wondered, and went online for info. I discovered that there are concrete blocks and there are concrete blocks. The rougher, homelier ones  like cinder blocks have coal cinders mixed into the concrete; others are made with finer mixes and more pleasing shades and textures of concrete, in a variety of shapes and sizes. Those got my imagination working.  I envision using a cool concrete block as a stand for a stack of art books, or an outdoor cooking hearth with moderne lines, or a version of Breuer’s gorgeous table.



thanks U.S. Concrete

Related posts: marcel breuer: sun and shadow, the philosophy of an architect

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6 replies on “Concrete Block Love (Marcel Breuer)

  1. Howdy! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the superb work!

  2. Yay, so glad to hear! The design was intended for just that: to liberate the content into phone reading.

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