The art of practicality: Tate Pray’s functional pieces are high on style

Photo: Christian Hommel Photo: Christian Hommel

Trained as an artist, Tate Pray was working as a carpenter until he moved to Charlottesville nine years ago. “I came across an opportunity to build formwork for a precast concrete company here in Charlottesville. I’ve been loving it ever since,” he said.

Pray stepped into the new decorative market in Charlottesville and carved a name for himself as concrete artist, specializing in decorative concrete, furniture, art, and design. From large planters to room dividers, Pray creates highly finished products that mark his playful yet sophisticated style. And he revels in the creation process—in taking a pile of sand and turning it into something purposeful and aesthetic. His products and designs are constantly pushing concrete in new and surprising ways. “As a designer, artist, and fabricator I am continually striving to realize a new end. It’s always the new,” he said.—Stephanie DeVaux

Photo: Courtesy Tate Pray

Are you from the Charlottesville area originally?

Originally, I am from Milwaukee, though I grew up in Mystic, Connecticut.

Describe your aesthetic in five words or less.

A playful arty sophistication.

Where do you stand on form versus function?

One should not stand on form versus function. It’s just too brittle.

What would you say is your “specialty”?

I specialize in sculptural decorative objects with purpose: planters, room dividers, screens, umbrella stands, etc.

What’s the first thing you ever made?

The first “making” memory that I have is of mixing dirt and rocks and sand together with my sister— sort of a primitive back alley concrete/mortar. We then laid brick. That wall is probably still standing.

Photo: Courtesy Tate Pray

What’s the process like for creating a new piece for a client?

When people come to me for concrete, it is typically because they have seen my work elsewhere. I have great clients that I work with collaboratively and also those that want something original and allow me to create a unique piece. It starts with a conversation and from there we begin to formulate a concept.

What are some other pertinent details about your business that you think readers would want to know?

Concrete is part of a larger picture of my company. I also offer design/build and consultation services for both interior and exterior renovation as well as furniture and art.

Get in touch

Have a project in mind for Tate? Call 284-1515 or visit for more information.