Douglas Kistler, concrete artisan


Urbana-based concrete artisan Douglas Kistler discusses his passion for concrete, people, and collaboration.

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Douglas Kistler | ART/BTS

I became interested in architecture and design at some point, and so then, it just kind of evolved from there into the design of things, things that people use. I love the material, I love concrete. It’s completely different than what I started 11 years ago. It’s really evolved a lot, and a lot of it is just within, just learning what makes better concrete. You use different materials actually in the concrete, different ingredients, and have it put totally different. You could almost never make something the same, even if you tried. You could use different techniques in casting, forming, processing, to get just completely different looks. And then the design part about it is basically that you can design so many different things in to it that you just can’t do with other materials. And then the concrete itself is, I always consider it a really honest material. Like everything you grind it, polish it, whatever, you reveal another layer. You see all the ingredients in the, you know, you see the sand, you see that if you put glass or some metal or something in it, you start revealing what’s inside the concrete. It’s not the perfect material either, which is why I think it’s honest material as well. When I make something for somebody’s home or business, that is in itself, it’s a collaboration between myself and them. I mean, I consider myself very observant person, I think, observing what someone might want and need, and use, and how me making that something would make them feel using it. I want to make something that people stop at, and they wonder about it, you know like, how did that, where did that bench come from? Or, there are also, always two or more person benches, so that’s a way for people to connect as well. I think your work is your art or your art is your work. It’s what you do, it’s what you make. I mean, that’s how you connect with people, is through your work. It’s connecting with other people in a way that makes the other person feel imporant and matter, to me that’s what I try to do. I’m Douglas. I’m a concrete artisan from Urbana, and I own Uptown Concrete Design in Tolono.