We spent a day with Jonas Klock the founder of Accidental Concrete (now Deture) to find out what accidental concrete really is, about his bike racing career and about dream projects. We started at Standert, went to see him work in his studio in the Alte Bildhauerwerkstatt and then had some mexican lunch at Neta. A day with Jonas Klock. Enjoy
About Jonas Klock. Who are you, where are you from, what are you doing and what have you done?
I’m from Berlin. Born and raised here, went to school here, did my studies here. Berlin is home. I am an architect and worked some years in this job until it just got too much for me. That was the point I decided to go my own way. I started experimenting with small objects made from concrete and then moved on to bigger things. This is bringing me back to where it all started, with designing interiors and doing more architecture again. But at the same time I keep working with my own hands and I am not stuck at the desk in front of my computer all day.
So you had a job in an architecture office. How did you have the idea to create objects from concrete? And why concrete?
My diploma graduation work was building models from concrete. That’s where my interest for concrete started. The thing about concrete is that when you are able to create the formwork according to your expectations you can build whatever you want from concrete because first it’s liquid and adapts every form and then it get’s dry and stays like that. I started experimenting with lamps but soon moved on and created furniture. That was also when I had the first requests for kitchen countertops, tables and so on. That’s how it developed and grew.
So it was a natural development for you that came from customer requests. So in general every new project is a challenge?
Yes, that too. I already started doing bigger things and then came the requests. For example for a bathtub and a sink. The customers asked me if that would be possible and I shortly thought about it and after many thoughts about how to construct the mold and what's the best way to pour it I came to the answer: yes. So, together with my partners Tom and Alex, I built a bathtub from concrete.
How is the process? Somebody asks you if you can do this or that. Do you directly know what’s possible or do you sometimes have to try things first?
No, I know that it’s possible. With the experience I have now I know that it’s possible. In the process you always have to adapt and change the plans as there are new challenges with every project.
That means that every project is an improvisation? How do you plan timings and material costs and things like that?
At the moment it’s still difficult. Right now every project is an individual creation. Of course you can rely on experiences you made in previous projects. But still there are always new things. New materials, new shapes, new work surroundings. Of course there are things popping up you would have never thought of and often it takes longer than expected at first. But right now I see it as the price you pay when you develop yourself and your products. It can’t run smooth from the beginning. But we are getting there.
Is the moment of stripping the formwork still exciting for you?
Every time! You never know what the product will be like. Concrete is unpredictable. You can do the same process every time and still it will look different. There are so many factors influencing the product. There could be a spot you didn’t know putting more pressure on the form and then let a dent in the concrete, or water gets out of the form somewhere and you can’t fix it anymore, and so on. But that’s also the beauty of working with this material. Every single part is unique. Even in serial production as I did it with lamps every single one is different than the other. You can buy the same lamp as your neighbor but it will still not be the same lamp.
Let’s go back a step in your life. You have a competitive cycling background.
Exactly. I was doing road cycling from youth ranks up to the U23. I started with 14. That also was a natural process. I was riding a lot with my dad and then tagged along with a neighbor when he went out for training. I spent all my afternoons in a bike shop next to home looking at all the catalogues and was ordering small pieces every now and then. That’s how I build up my first proper bike. Soon I joined a cycling club. From riding three times a week I got to do 4,5,6,7 training days a week. Then I started racing a lot of local bike races in Berlin - Rollberg, Bergmann, Steglitzer Damm. That’s how I got into the racing scene and moved on with the squad and raced stage races, Bundesliga and German Championships. That grew over the time but then you reach a point where you have to make a decision: sports school, sports soldier or normal school and proper graduation. I went for the graduation.
Did you quit completely or did you keep riding for fun?
At that I point I quit completely. Of course I gradually reduced my training to prevent health issues. Back then I also already did a lot of running. But at that time it was mostly about school and party. Things I couldn’t do before. Getting back to cycling wasn’t really happening for me until I moved to the Netherlands for work. I had friends that introduced me to the fixed gear scene. Through fixed gear crit racing and training for that I finally got back on the road bike.
And then you quit a second time with competitive cycling when you broke your hip in a crash in the famous Red Hook Crit.
Yes, but that was only a reminder how fast things like that can happen when racing. And the time to take those risks is over for me. There’s too much responsibility now to be out with broken bones for several weeks or even months. I now race cyclocross. You crash more often there, but normally at a slower pace, on your own and softer as it’s raced on natural surfaces. So there’s less risk of injuring yourself.
Back to concrete to finish this up. Do you have a dream project you would love to realize one day?
A house. I want to build a complete house. Designing it from the ground with all the interior and all aspects. That’s where I would like to get sometime.