You'll see his work at the new Epicurean Hotel in Tampa and in the Green Bench Brewing Co. in downtown St. Petersburg. A slim, curvy chaise longue, he suggests, could be submerged in a hotel pool, where a guest might enjoy a warm-weather soak along with a cool drink perched atop one of his tables, which would be installed nearby.
"It's heavy. It won't float away when or if a hurricane comes. You can make it into any shape,'' Jonathan Haywood says.
Stop into his studio in St. Petersburg's Warehouse Arts District, and you may find the founder of Epic Artisan Concrete listening to Miles Davis while finishing a tabletop that represents graceful fabric folds, imagining an elegant fireplace surround or creating a mold for a bathroom sink. The sinks, some bowl-shaped, some linear, hook up to standard plumbing.
More often used as a base in architectural and infrastructure construction, concrete also has become a medium for more decorative fixtures such as countertops and furniture, although it presents a number of variables.
"Concrete is a maddeningly frustrating material, from one day to the next, one batch to the next, even down to the grain," Haywood allows. The amount of moisture can vary from one bag of cement or sand to another, and cement needs a specified amount of water to set properly for consistent workability and to cure to proper strengths. "And you're trying to do something almost predictable" in creating designs.
Now 32, Haywood once considered a college major in English. Later, he thought about architecture. He and his wife, Ashley, moved from Charlotte, N.C., to Costa Rica, where he was working with a search-engine optimization expert. After that, he helped another entrepreneur who was renovating houses to sell to other expatriates from the United States, and they began experimenting with concrete forms.
The couple eventually moved to the Brandon area, spending time with one of Haywood's sisters. After several weeks, he says, they decided to "check out St. Pete," where they discovered a growing artistic network.
"When we moved back to the United States," he says, "I didn't want to stop playing in concrete."
That was 2010, and he created some of his initial projects in a two-car garage. Two years later, he moved the studio into a much larger space in the warehouse district. Within several months, he hopes to open a showroom on the site. That should give potential clients the opportunity to schedule consultations and examine a range of colors, textures and finishes.
His custom work includes a top for a cabinet constructed of concrete and eucalyptus wood, some of the grain of which has been filled with molten pewter. And he is refining other designs.
As the sign posted outside his studio reads: "We make beautiful things out of dust."
epicartisanconcrete.com; (813) 480-6156.