Raw, urban concrete – from building material to wallpaper style

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Concrete is a raw building material, it rarely occupies our thoughts as it is usually hidden and seldom demands our attention. It’s omnipresent in the buildings around us, but until recently it was more a necessary element than part of any design concept. Nevertheless it can certainly shine as an essential part of interior design, especially when it comes to wall décor.

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Concrete: popular material since the construction of the pyramids

Concrete isn’t a raw material – it is a mixture of cement, sand and gravel. Gravel and sand have different grain sizes and colorations. As a result, concrete comes in many structural varieties. Limestone mortar was used in ancient Egypt to connect the huge stone blocks when building the pyramids. In the third century BC, the Carthaginians developed a concrete mixture which was used widely, including in Rome, to build residential tenements. Even then, concrete wasn’t a mere building material. If you look at the individual square elements of the Pantheon cupola in Rome, you will notice that the form was a significant consideration, too. The architects designed the cupola in such a way that it is admired to this day, and visitors are often seen craning their necks to look up and take in its splendour. In 1755, the mixture of components we now call concrete was developed in England, and for a long time it was used exclusively as a building material. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the decorative element of concrete was discovered.

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Warehouses as an urban life choice

The age of industrialisation lead to the construction of huge warehouses. When they were surplus to requirements and not used any longer, they began to crumble and decay, until they were repurposed as urban dwellings. From as early as the 1940s, Londoners and New Yorkers began to claim old, empty warehouses as living spaces. Existing building structures remained unaltered, and the huge spaces were rarely separated into different rooms. The inhabitants didn’t hide raw bricks or concrete walls behind plaster: instead, they integrated them into their design concepts as a matter of course. As a result, these lofts with their exposed metal joists and old windows maintained their industrial charm. These types of dwellings attracted creatives and artists who found the open spaces an ideal environment to let their creative juices flow. They added furniture to the huge open-plan halls and enjoyed the feeling of freedom and ease. Today, this urban industrial look is being introduced into private houses and much smaller spaces – made possible by unusual concrete-style wallpapers.

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Concrete-look wallpapers from the Netherlands

One of the first designers to introduce the concrete look into contemporary design was Dutchman Piet Boon. He designed an entire collection around this style for NLXL – and you can find it in our range! The Concrete wallpaper collection clearly bears the signature of the famous designer. For this unusual wall décor, Boon chose to utilise a digital print method. At a length of 9 m and a width of 49 cm, the individual rolls of wallpaper are produced in dimensions that are slightly narrower and shorter than usual. As a result, no detail appears more than once on each roll. This means that Piet Boon’s concrete-look wallpapers are highly authentic, in fact they need to be touched to notice that they are not the real thing. Piet Boon was born in 1958. His career path lead him from building contractor to architect to interior designer. He wasn’t satisfied with just realising a part of the entire construction process. Instead, he always considered the entire picture and refused to be limited to “just building” or “just architecture”. His aim was to breathe some life into buildings and afford them a sense of comfort, and even cosiness, by the clever use of interior design. For each of his projects, this designer applies a holistic vision from concept to completion. As a result, his buildings work in perfect harmony with their interiors. His functional style leaves plenty of room for individual touches.

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What are concrete-look wallpapers?

Concrete-look wallpaper comes in many variations, but they all share the same goal: to create an industrial style in your own four walls. Whether you prefer large concrete slabs or a whole concrete wall – you do not have to handle raw concrete to achieve the look. Our range consists of light-resistant, non-woven wallpapers. Their smooth or structured surfaces in a large array of brown and grey hues succeed in imitating a real concrete wall in an amazingly realistic manner. And they are just as varied as the real thing.

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The Industrial Look becomes Trend

The Industrial Look introduces a raw, untreated element to your walls, its simplicity stands out and adds a loft-style glamour to any room. Old metal lockers, furniture with a layer of patina, candle sticks or dusty metal signs – a melange of wood, glass and metal, preferably with signs of wear and tear, create industrial charm. This extraordinary urban interior design style is enhanced and emphasised by concrete-look wallpapers. They provide an appropriate backdrop for minimalist industrial furnishings. But that doesn’t mean forgoing comfort and well-being. This particular style can feel a bit incomplete and unfinished, but it certainly provides clean lines and structures. In living rooms, a large sofa is beautifully accentuated when placed in front of a concrete wall. Concrete-look wallpapers in studies or offices let the thoughts flow freely and provide the ideal background for new ideas and concepts as they don’t distract the beholder.

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