Monday, January 14, 2013

MODA Field Trip: DEX Industries

Who would have thought that so many people would be interested in cement?!

Recently, I went on my first Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) "Field Trip"...with a LOT of fellow MODA enthusiasts. We went to and toured DEX Industries, which is "a leading provider of sustainable product using responsible practices dedicated to exploring, pursuing, and executing creative applications of concrete and terrazzo."

DEX Industries Showroom
DEX Industries Showroom
Alright, I don't want this post to sound too much like a commercial for DEX Industries, although I would totally endorse them and I will be telling all my designer and architect friends about them. My goal here is to induce excitement for MODA Field Trips. As a matter of fact, I'm so excited about their Field Trips that I've already purchased my ticket for the next one!

So, to preface what we toured, Lauriel Leonard is the "Concrete Blonde" of "Iron Man and the Concrete Blonde", creators of vignette #11 in The Next Wave. Lauriel is a designer and is co-owner of DEX Industries and she's a lovely and wholly fun hostess. We started in the showroom.

The showroom features walls and sinks and other vessels, all made from cement, many with aggregate. DEX Industries sponsored a reception prior to the tour where the great turnout enjoyed wine, beer, and nibbles and we got to meet their bulldog—sweet, sweet dog!

Polished Concrete Tile Wall, DEX Industries
Polished Concrete Tile Wall, DEX Industries
Terrazzo Sink and Polished Concrete Wall, DEX Industries
Terrazzo Sink and Polished Concrete Wall,
DEX Industries
Polished Concrete Wall, DEX Industries
Polished Concrete Wall, DEX Industries
Craig Smith, co-owner and husband to Lauriel, led the tour. His passion for what he does came through at every point of the tour. He spoke of the company's humble beginnings and he's still humble about how far he's come since the company's beginnings. 

MODA Field Trip at DEX Industries
MODA Field Trip at DEX Industries
I have to say, it's far and few between that I meet someone who loves what he's doing as much as Craig. I admire him for that. And you should hear him speak about the sustainability practices the company has adopted...he's quite excited about them, and for good reason.

I'll touch on a couple of sustainability practices he noted. The first one, which is to me is super-cool, is the sourcing of material from a Georgia-based company that makes fiber optic products. The by-product, large clear glass "drops," is purchased by DEX in the amount of thousands of pounds a year. It's converted to aggregate material that ends up in counter tops and other DEX products.

Fiber Optic Byproduct to Become Aggregate, DEX Industries
Fiber Optic Byproduct to Become Aggregate,
DEX Industries
They also package the crushed material as "DEX Glass" and sell it to other companies that use aggregate. The cool factor in this is that prior to DEX's sourcing this material, it was all going to landfill!

DEX Glass, DEX Industries
DEX Glass, DEX Industries
Another practice is the recycling of water (for those who do not know, it's been reported repeatedly that water is our next "precious resource") and they're also beginning to collect, and use for product manufacture, rainwater in a 30,000 gallon cistern. Pretty cool, if you ask me!

Back to aggregate...DEX can use practically anything as aggregate, which shows up in its finished products. We saw examples of crushed glass, wine bottles, Nautilus shells...lots and lots of aggregate-suited materials.

Materials Used as Aggregate, DEX Industries
Materials Used as Aggregate,
DEX Industries
We saw a lot of terrazzo samples and the diversity of the aggregate used. Craig told us that even though they can make a wide range of colors—saw some beautiful blue, orange and green samples, the brighter colors typically ordered by restaurants and casinos—but, the majority of orders are neutral in color.

Makes sense...a turquoise or lavender kitchen counter, no matter how much a homeowner loves the color, doesn't lend much to resale value.

Terrazzo samples at DEX Industries
Terrazzo samples at DEX Industries
A couple more things before I wrap up.

In the shop—the huge, massive shop—there were examples of just how large a format they can work in, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they can go a LOT bigger. Here's one of a pattern that I particularly liked...

Large Format Polished Concrete Wall Tiles, DEX Industries
Large Format Polished Concrete Wall Tiles, DEX Industries
I have to say, Craig put in a lot of time and consideration for our tour. He had in advance laid out samples, ensured safe pathways, and was gracious enough to show us ALL areas of the plant...we got the VIP tour!

After the tour, we wen't back to the showroom (keep in mind, I've shared only the tip of the iceberg of DEX operations) to again visit the finished products with a new understanding of how they were created. 

DEX Industries Showroom
DEX Industries Showroom

Like any showroom, this one contains complimentary furnishings to help visitors visualize the cement and terrazzo products in a real-life setting. My favorite were the "chandeliers" adorning the room. Gorgeous! (This artist is also featured in the current exhibition at MODA)

DEX Industries Showroom
DEX Industries Showroom
I have a photo of DEX's Lauriel and MODA's Katie, Barbara, and Jennifer that I wanted to share, but it was raining that night and being a person who has naturally wavy hair I know the havoc humidity wreaks on one's coiffure. So, thank you for posing ladies—you're every one gorgeous and lovely, but I wouldn't do that to you.

But, when you go see the exhibition at the Museum, the photo below serves as an introduction to Lauriel. Looks like they had a lot of fun making the Bio Wall!

Lauriel Leonard, DEX Industries
Lauriel Leonard, DEX Industries
On the Bio Wall—depicting the 40-plus designers who've created The Next Wave—Lauriel, the Concrete Blonde, says, "'Be original' is an integral design philosophy for me. Original design, original finishes from an age old material...concrete."

The next MODA Filed Trip is "Burnt Wood and Bourbon"—an "opportunity to learn directly from Square Feet Studio and Skylar Morgan Furniture Design about the unique work they are producing." There will also be an opportunity to do some wood burning and there will be a bourbon tasting...sounds like fun, right?

Of course I have more photos from this MODA Field Trip...head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page to see those, and others. See you soon at MODA!

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