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Don Welsh received the first-ever award in the competition’s New Member category, an award created to showcase the efforts of artisans new to the field of concrete fabrication. He has been working with concrete for only about a year. His Hygeia Bench not only met and exceeded client expectations, it captured the attention of the competition’s judges for its dynamic use of materials and overall design excellence.
Project Objective + Client Feedback
The clients wanted an eight foot bench to complement an existing eight foot dining table. The table has a rustic reclaimed wood look with a zinc top. With key design decisions left in his hands, Welsh chose acacia wood, reclaimed teak, and a concrete base for the bench. The clients couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. “They loved it. They said, ‘It’s a work of art!’ ” says Welsh.
Design + Expertise
Welsh had to first select the signature element for the wood and concrete bench — the ideal piece of acacia wood for the bench top that would complement the table. Once he did, the rest of the project began to naturally unfold. The final selection for the wood element had a very unique shape and a beautiful raw edge, which Welsh wanted to leave completely natural. He found it necessary, however, to make a small repair using a butterfly inlay to stop a split on the top of the bench. Reclaimed teak was used for the bench under-support to structurally and aesthetically bring the two ends of the bench together. The acacia and teak create a successful composition alongside the existing table.
The concrete base, fabricated with CHENG Platinum Pro-Formula Concrete Mix, was designed to cradle and silhouette the wood. Concrete not only gives the bench weight, it also allows endless possibilities of embedded inlay materials and finishing techniques. Its liquid properties enable it to be cast in any form and to creatively adjoin or contrast other materials.
Welsh smartly fabricated an aluminum strap to help secure the bench top and to add a compelling third visual element. Custom-made tiles of the same aluminum were inlaid into the teak support to visually balance the materials; the color of the metal perfectly echoes the Platinum-colored concrete. Welsh’s strength is his ability to showcase the unique characteristics and inherent beauty of each material while creating a functional work of art. Most importantly, he not only met but exceeded his clients’ expectations.
Fu-Tung Cheng sums up that Welsh’s bench is “…a great balance of organic and structured, natural and architectural, and warm yet sleek.”
2011 Best New Member, CHENG Concrete Exchange Design Challenge
Recognized in the industry as the pinnacle of exceptional design and craftsmanship, the CHENG Concrete Exchange Design Challenge showcases talent and technical skill of the very best in creative concrete.
Eleven39design artfully combines concrete, a timeless material, with natural, reclaimed and found elements to create furniture, countertops and spaces. Don Welsh, principal of eleven39design based in Encinitas, CA, strives to create individual projects that are as unique as the clients themselves.
Contact: Don Welsh
1139 Hermes Ave
Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone: (760) 845-3426