Non-cement cement: a material innovation

The example of Concreo and Conclad, concrete-effect slabs which, in addition to being aesthetically faithful to the material they imitate, are easy to install, environmentally friendly and economically competitive.

While it is true that the future of design lies in materials, it is also true that producers are moving more and more in the direction of research and innovation to offer ever new solutions. This is the case with Concreo and Conclad, two Italian-made cladding slabs made from a mixture of cellulose fibres, gypsum and resins launched on the market by the Bonomi Pattini Group, a Brianza-based company that has specialised in the sale of materials for the furnishing and design industry for over forty years. Conclad, biocompatible and fireproof, is designed for wall coverings and false ceilings while Concreo is made with a dense and compact mix, stain-resistant treatment, and is suitable for the production of furniture and for installation in environments with a high concentration of humidity.

"Non-cement concrete is a material that revolutionises the use of cement for interior design, because it allows a certain and replicable result, unlike traditional concrete. When we talk about cement applied to the world of finishes, there are many variables to be considered, and the risk of error is very high even when the worker is very competent," explains Gilberto Minelli, CEO of Gemin Srl, the manufacturer of non-cement cement. "Our slabs start from the factory, with careful quality control, and can reach anywhere in the world, guaranteeing a unique ease of processing: all that is needed is the presence of a carpenter."

To overcome the physiological limits of concrete, guaranteeing a significantly reduced environmental impact, is among the declared objectives of Gemin Srl, as Silvia Fregoli, architect and Art Director of non-cement cement, explains: "Concreo is an innovative material that contains no cement, and therefore no concrete or resins. It is a zero-emission compound made from natural fibres and materials. It meets the standards required today by the furniture and design industry and represents what specifiers and designers themselves are looking for in materials. It is a remarkable product precisely because the alternatives on the market are composed of resins, it is easy to use thanks to its specific weight: about half that of cement, and it is easy to work with the same techniques and tools used to work with wood, obtaining a realistic cement effect on site". 

Non-cement concrete's target audience is the contract industry, where it finds application in retail, hotel and catering, but also in high-end residential. Customers include luxury brands such as Calvin Klein, Pal Zileri, Céline, Louis Vuitton, Marcolin, Max&Co, Under Armour, Bottega Veneta and L'Occitante. More recently, Conclad was used for the interior cladding of a yacht built in Holland for a Russian shipowner, as Gilberto Minelli explains: "Lightness compared to cement, ease of processing, eco-compatibility, fire resistance and obviously refined aesthetics are the most interesting factors for the nautical sector, which opens up potential for innovation".

Among its many applications, non-cement cement has been used in the field of art. "One thing that is particularly interesting is the possibility of printing photographic images on this surface at very high resolution, creating a design element with its own texture,” says Francesco Ferla, architect and digital artist from Palermo. "From a technical point of view, it is a convenient material in terms of its lightness and does not need a back structure to be applied. Fireproof certification is essential when working in museums. We live in a moment of hybridisation, and in the field of architecture it can’t be bad to have a material to experiment with images on".

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