Australian Design: Nood Co
Walking through Melbourne Denfair last year, I briefly met Matt Di Costa from Nood Co, a lover of all things ‘concrete’. He explained with great passion the possibilities of concrete in furniture, and how this age-old material can definitely pack a designer punch! Far from the blocky appearance and grey colours you may imagine, I was touching and admiring organic shapes and smooth finishes in a vast array of colours. I always enjoy talking to people who clearly love what they do and being such a creative process with unique results I was fascinated to find out more.
All images courtesy of Nood Co.
Do you aim to a particular style in your design?
"Regarding our furniture, we have set design limitations and briefs concerning concrete in particular, like weight, textural qualities and of course good looks... Nood aims to create a duality with all of its pieces: we took a simple, strong building material and set about transforming it through colour, curve and a refined finish; feminine/masculine. The end result is a piece with a good balance of strength and beauty..."
Where does a passion for concrete comes from?
"I was a polished plasterer back in my manual labour days, and grew up around building (Italian family, we build) and concrete was around. My passion was to make something beautiful for the world to love, something thoroughly original, hence we had to start with something difficult. I hadn't seen anyone tackle concrete with love. I studied architecture and became fascinated with furniture design and its complications, its extreme set of limitations and necessities in order to function."
Why concrete for furniture?
"Well, concrete is handmade, it has patina, it is real. It references materiality and is more genuine in feel than other machined products. When you buy our product you are buying a feature piece. And it's from Australia which is always nice. We can also create custom colours and custom pieces of furniture for personalised products."
What are the challenges of using concrete in furniture?
"When the idea for Nood came about, I remember sitting down with a huge list of outcomes we'd need to achieve in order for concrete to be designed, coloured, sealed, light enough, strong enough, transportable and so on.... and my mind went wild with excitement."
For concrete to make it into the 'real world' they had a list of things to address. "The product had to be light weight, so we made our own high strength concrete mix to allow for thinner pieces. It had to be transportable, and it had to be softened in looks, so curve, form and proportion became a main focus. Then, with colour, we needed consistency: how do you make 20 coloured concrete cafe tables look the same? Also, the concrete needs to last, and needs to feel natural, so we worked hard at finding the right seal and finish; that was a tough one. Finally, it had to be different: take what we know of concrete and flip it, make it exciting, inspiring; give it a rebirth. Only when we achieved all of these things, we could begin designing with what was left, what was allowable. I like designing like this."
How long did all this take?
""We spent 2 years playing and testing concrete before we launched the company. I worked as designer on a TV show prior to Nood, (The Block, Channel 9) and also did a lot of commercial design projects and hence Nood is/was an entirely new thing. I believe in moving where my passion takes me and hence it is always fun to start with a fresh concept."
Do you make all of your items yourself?
"All of the concrete material, tint, sealer has been developed by Nood Co. Something we are very proud of. And hence when you buy Nood, it is exclusive. Australian made concrete and proud."
Do you connect with other Australian designers?
"Yes, at Denfair was often cross paths with Australia's elite. Nood Co are the new guys on the block and hence we tread with admiration for others."
What is good design to you?
"Good design offers the viewer optimism, excitement, it makes them feel a deeper connection with self. When just have to have something, what you are experiencing is something deep inside of yours touched, something only you understand, something that hasn't been spoken to in a while. I think that is good design."