The entire collection consists of ‘New Primitives’ (2017), abstract benches and side tables made from layering hefty concrete blocks on top of one another; ‘New Primitives II’ (2018), a circular table following the same design process and using textured concrete; and most recently ‘New Primitives III’ (2019), the latest rendition of the circular table, created for a private client. Vanderbeke’s carefully constructed works are sculpted using an angle grinder, using large pieces of prefabricated concrete blocks. The designer wanted to create a rough texture on the concrete, so he used pigments and waxes to give the blocks an unexpected finish.
The collection is inspired by the Anthropocene era, a term derived from Greek meaning “recent age of man.” The Anthropocene epoch points to the momentous human impact on the earth’s climate and ecosystems, a matter which—given our current geopolitical debate on the climate crisis—has been greatly contested in recent social times. ‘New Primitives’ investigates the effects of this era through using concrete waste; and aims to thereby question the volume of our use of non-essential materials. Vanderbeke believes that treating concrete like a natural material will give it more significance and context to its surroundings. “The primitive manipulation of manmade materials creates new valuable elements and meanings”, he explains. Accordingly, Vanderbeke hopes that by exploring our relationships with objects we can work towards reforming our user relationship with the environment.