A Perfect Balance of Materials
Project Location: Solana Beach, CA
Project Turnaround: 2 weeks
Made with: CHENG Outdoor Pro-Formula + Recycled Steel Tubing
Color: Platinum, 2.5 cu.ft. ($90)
Project Dimensions: 4’4″L x 12″W x 20″H
Kudos: Honorable Mention, Circle of Distinction Design Challenge
Project by: Ron Haratyk + Brett Haydn Designs
Ron Haratyk, a 40-year veteran of concrete and owner of Accurate Concrete Construction in Del Mar, CA, and Brett Haydn, designer and principal of Brett Haydn Designs, worked together to create the Drake Bench, a perfect meld of glass-like concrete made with CHENG Outdoor Pro-Formula Mix and “up-cycled” steel tubing with natural patina. Not only are the materials in harmony, but no fasteners or hardware are used; only gravity and well-planned engineering keep the bench in perfect balance.
Concrete Exchange (CX): What inspired your design vision for the Drake Bench?
BRETT: The process of design is not easy, but this particular design came to me all of a sudden after studying the metal tubing for a long time. There was no trial or mock up and the reality of the finished project met my vision—I was pretty excited. Sometimes with concrete, people don’t like the heaviness of it, but in this case there’s no hardware, fasteners, or adhesives holding it together, which is beautiful in its simplicity. The only thing that fuses the two materials together is gravity. I wouldn’t change a thing.
CX: Why did you choose to use concrete and recycled steel?
BRETT: The idea of sustainability drives my design philosophy. I really like using concrete since it’s a little friendlier than digging out a precious stone to be used. I wanted to use the lightness of the CHENG Platinum concrete color to contrast the deep, rich patina of the steel tubing. The tubing sat in a metal yard for at least 40 years and no one was reusing it. I love giving it new life by up-cycling it—giving it greater value than it otherwise would have just sitting there.
CX: What was your personal goal for this project?
RON: To diversify. Flatwork was in a slump in San Diego. Living here, there are a lot of high-end clients who want high-end projects. When I went to Cheng’s class about five years ago, I knew I wanted to diversify and go beyond flatwork and bring the high-end clients in. Clients love the work—they love the detail in the work—it usually exceeds their expectations.
BRETT: Collaboration. I bring Ron design ideas and he lets me know whether or not they are feasible. He came up with the idea to notch out the concrete. He’s definitely the building expert and I bring the projects and the design for these unique pieces to the table, or bench in this case!
CX: Where do you find your concrete inspiration?
RON: I trust Cheng to begin with—ever since I’ve seen Fu-Tung’s projects in magazines. He is the guru and I’ve read through his books and after taking his class, I learned so much including drawing perspectives and where to get inspiration for my work. I got my confidence to do more creative work since I was doing mostly construction since the 70’s. I would say that taking his class made me take the huge leap forward in new creative directions, just like I had planned and knew it would. I learned a lot from people at the training who were from different industries that knew things like water features and landscaping. They didn’t do concrete but taught me something new.I’d love to be as inventive as Cheng. The more I look at things, the more inventive I get and I get excited for the next project. One of my favorite things to do is recycle anything I can find and incorporate it back into my projects. Sometimes my friends think I’m crazy when I start picking stuff up off the ground, like glass bits from a busted-in BMW window! Fu-Tung definitely brought my eye to a new perspective.
CX: Why did you choose CHENG Pro-Formula Mix for the concrete?
RON: I went with the Outdoor Pro-Formula Mix because I won’t do any projects without it. Why bother experimenting when you have something you know will work for a project? I can match colors easily based on what the customer wants, so I don’t have to experiment. If you follow the instructions, there are no mistakes to be made.
CX: What tip or technique did you learn from this particular project / process?
RON: Don’t use cheap materials, don’t skimp—spend the extra for quality materials and you’ll get a quality product.
CX: Where is the bench now?
BRETT: Originally, it was made for an art gallery called Mixture in San Diego. It is just one part of a collection, and the collection is not yet complete—this is definitely a one-of-a-kind. The rest of the furniture collection is still in progress. It was also shown in another gallery in the Cedros design district in Solana Beach [CA]. It continues to be showcased from gallery to gallery.
CX: What was the most fun?
RON: It was something different and I enjoy doing this type of work. I get up in the morning and I’m happy to do the work.
For More Information:
Ron Haratyk, Accurate Concrete Construction
Del Mar, CA
Brett Haydn, Brett Haydn Designs
Solana Beach, CA