Architecture and Design

Brandon Boetto's Slabhaus to Bring More Concrete Artistry to Phoenix

Brandon Boetto needs new digs.

For the past two years, he's immersed himself in the concrete design world via his company, Slabhaus, and due to growing pains and his homeowners association's rules, he says it's time to move the workspace from his condo's garage into a formal studio.

By day, Boetto is a marketing director for local print company Blue Media. But by night, he sketches designs, forms fiberglass molds, and mixes concrete. He dedicates about four hours to Slabhaus every evening.

His introduction to the concrete industry was two years ago, while visiting different architecture and design blogs. Boetto saw a photo of a concrete sink by artist Brandon Gore.

"It was fascinating because I didn't realize how far concrete had come," Boetto says. "It almost looked like it was made out of fabric, so that really turned me on to the industry."

When he found out Gore was local, he signed up for Gore's classes and turned a piqued interest into an active craft and business.

"Boetto is the go-getter and he's ambitious," Gore says. "He doesn't know what's not possible yet -- which is a good thing." Gore explains that concrete, unlike static materials like wood or steel, is the only completely customizable material. It can be cast it into any shape, color, surface, texture, or sheen - that's what makes each artist's style and product unique. Only time brings experience and finesse, but Gore recognizes Boetto's talent early on.

"He reminds me of myself ten years ago," he says. "He's got enough drive, enough gumption, and enough ambition that if campaign is funded and he gets his own studio space, we'll see him do big things."

"Everything I do, I take very seriously, so once I knew there was a niche that needed to be filled in the concrete industry -- there were these young kids coming up doing some real high-end design work -- I knew I could compete," Boetto says.

Slabhaus is in its beginning stages, Boetto says, and moving into a studio will allow him the freedom to hone his skills further. Basically, he says, his homeowner's association isn't too pleased with all that concrete mixing.

"It's kind of tough because I have a day job, so most of what I do is at night and on the weekend," Boetto says. "When I come home, I'm limited to the hours I can work in my garage."

We visited his garage, so we can vouch for Slabhaus' cleanliness, but the air-conditioned warehouse in Tempe Boetto has his sights on would be a win-win situation for his brand and his neighbors.

This is where the Kickstarter comes in. Since the online fundraising platform doesn't allow users to raise money for real estate, Boetto hopes to raise $6,500 for supplies like tables and fiberglass form to create a concrete furniture line. He'll sell the line: one chair, one coffee table, and one dining table - and use those proceeds to get a studio.

Browse the Slabhaus website for more insight into Boetto's craft and visit his Kickstarter to donate. He has until August 4 -- just 10 days away -- to raise the $4,000 more he needs to reach $6,500. Pledge gifts run from a "thank you" on the blog (for $5) to a concrete model of a 35mm Olympus camera ($80) and a custom concrete coffee table ($650).

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Evelyn Ngugi
Contact: Evelyn Ngugi