ConcreteWall founder Tom Haga has a deep fascination with detail — subtle imperfections that make up a surface’s unique texture, slight gradations of color and shadow.
A professional photographer with over 20 years of experience, Tom Haga was born and raised in Norway where he has been cultivating his unique brand of meticulously detailed, ultra-high-resolution photography since he bought his first camera as a teenager.
“I’ve always been fascinated by textures and surfaces,” he says, “I liked to shoot mostly close-ups, macro-shots.” He found an outlet for this interest as a commercial food photographer. Haga worked with the Norwegian National Culinary Team and the Bocuse d´Or Europe international gastronomy competition, and, over the course of his 15 year-long career, developed the rare ability to see what most of us overlook.
But in 2010, Tom began experimenting with much larger subjects: massive expanses of brick and concrete walls.
His motivation for photographing walls was simple: “I decided I wanted a concrete wall in my home, so I went looking online for wallpaper that had this effect. I discovered there was nothing, so I made my own.”
Scouting for antique brick and concrete structures throughout the Scandinavian countryside, Tom used his signature ultra-high-res photography and his eye for detail to capture the beauty of these walls with a level of authenticity that conventional wallpapers can’t replicate.
He also decided to print the images on textured, non-woven vinyl material to give the photographs a gritty, sandy texture like that of real concrete. The result was a hyper-realistic wall covering that looks — and feels — like real brick and concrete. And just like the real thing, the wall covering is UV-resistant, fire-resistant, and easily washable with a soft cloth.
By sizing up the images at a 1:1 scale, he could print the photographs to fit the exact dimensions of any wall without any repetition in the pattern, creating a truly authentic replica of the original.
Tom decided to bring his incredible innovation to market. “It turned out so nicely, so I made a Facebook page to promote it and called it Betongvegg, Norwegian for ‘concrete wall,’” Tom recalled. “Then a blogger from Sweden found it and reposted it online, and it boomed almost over-night. We had inquiries from all over the world. That’s when I realized I could make a business out of this and the very first thing I did was change the official name to ConcreteWall.”
A decade later ConcreteWall boasts an international following and an impressive roll of A-list clients. While the product is photographed, edited, and manufactured entirely in Norway, the company caters to a global audience and has installed their custom wall covering for major retailers like Calvin Klein, Ligne Roset, H&M, Microsoft, Dior — and of course, Resource Furniture.
Because ConcreteWall is based on digital photographs it can be customized to be darker, lighter, or color cast. Brands can integrate their logos and other graphic elements to make a truly unique trompe l’oeil. It’s also much easier to install than traditional wallpapers, as Tom and his team demonstrated in their installation time-lapse.
But perhaps the most attractive thing about these wall coverings are the stories they tell.
“All the walls we’ve used have either existed or can still be found out there, and they all have their own unique story,” Tom explains.
Take this pattern, Concrete no. 45 — this photograph comes from one of two WWII-era German submarine bunkers in Trondheim, Norway, called Dora 1 and Dora 2. Dora 1 was completed in 1943 and had room for 16 submarines, while Dora 2 was never completed.
Other patterns, like Attic no. 03, depict walls from historical and cultural landmarks found throughout the Scandinavian Peninsula. This print from the Attic Collection comes from the old Tou Brewery in Stavanger, Norway — the same city where ConcreteWall is manufactured. The brewery produced beer and flour from 1855 to 1988; today it houses one of the country’s largest cultural centers.
“Even though these are wall coverings, they are still my photos,” Tom said, “and every detail is the same as on the original wall.”