Personal Space

Brandon Gore's Concrete Jungle

In his Tempe studio, sandwiched between Hardy Drive and a milk factory, Brandon Gore has found himself coming to an odd full circle; the Arkansas native grew up on a dairy farm, which he only describes as "messy."

Gore moved from his hometown to Alabama, then Arizona working stints in farming and eventually sales at a large hotel chain. On one of his regular mountain-bike rides down Desert Classic trail in South Mountain park, he took a break and spotted a house. Its architecture stuck in his head. It was then and there -- contemplating how much he disliked working with a lot of people and how much he didn't want another 9 to 5 -- that he concluded he was going to learn how to build houses, piece by piece.

Enter concrete.

Gore took a concrete construction class from Buddy Rhodes, the modern father of the artisan process. There, Gore learned how to mix, pour and construct sinks, counter tops and tables.

He nabbed a studio space, started a company, worked around the clock in his own 1400-square-foot studio. He taught a class in Manitoba, Canada, returned to Phoenix, and a few sinks later, landed himself a spread in Dwell magazine. But what makes this space so "Gore"?

You'll see, after the jump ...

Gore calls his studio behind his glass storefront door as the "Dewey Decimal system of concrete." Each tool, material and concrete slab has its own place.

While times for custom concrete (and custom everything) aren't in their economic prime, Gore's doing residential and commercial jobs for residents and companies all over the world. He uses glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC), a cement mixture containing alkali-resistant glass fibers. Ultimately, it's a much stronger material that's lighter and easier to ship.

He says his design inspirations come from the Japanese aesthetic, Wabi Sabi, or the acceptance of imperfection and natural chaos. It's a concept that's reflected in his studio (though not in his pristine organization) and in his constant experimentation with fabric forms, which yield natural curves and lines based on the fabric form into which he pours the GRFC concrete.

The 31-year-old's future in Phoenix and in concrete is uncertain -- he admits his learning process is far from finished. He says he'd like to stay and build houses from concrete and rammed earth, but city codes and regulations currently prevent him from doing so.

He teaches four artisan concrete classes per year focusing on concrete sinks. The next one is yet to be announced, but you can stay up to date through his website and newsletter.

And now for the eye candy (click on the picture above, or here for a full slideshow of Gore's studio and work) ...