Marble and the other types of natural stone have been among the most commonly-used construction materials since antiquity – Pliny the Elder extolled its virtues in his Naturalis Historia – and since then have never ceased to fire designers’ creativity. The latest processes, especially those employing digitally controlled latest generation machinery, allow for slimmer thicknesses and bolder shapes, making for unprecedented versatility on top of the many qualities of lapidary materials. This characteristic was also picked up in the proposals from the brands exhibiting at the Salone del Mobile.Milano, which made the most of the natural elegance of marble and stone, associating them with pure lines and well-defined volumes, breaking up the apparent rigidity of the materials with special carvings and sculptures, or making a feature of the irregularities and defects, turning them into stylistic hallmarks.
Paolo Ulian for Antonio Lupi
Paolo Ulian was born in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, and first became interested in marble in the early 1990s, anticipating the issues that were to become key later on, such as the waste recovery. He has designed a series of sculptural washbasins for Antoniolupi in which the material takes on an unusual dynamism. The latest of these, Flow, is distinguished by its jagged profile, which derives from a peculiarity of the digitally controlled water jet machine used to manufacture it. This type of tool tends to spontaneously create irregular waves on stone surfaces, an effect that professionals usually take steps to avoid but which the Tuscan designer has chosen to magnify in this particular case. The Florence-based company also showcased re-editions of some of its most iconic Flumood washbasins in marble and precious stone: Tuba and Albume, designed by Carlo Colombo, Ago85 and Simplo85 by Mario Ferrarini and Fusto by Nevio Tellatin.
Lithea and Mediterranean culture
The Sicilian Lithea company has its roots in the Mediterranean culture and the ancient world is one of its main sources of inspiration. Dal Classico, the new project exhibited at the trade fair in a display curated by Martinelli Venezia, revisits Greek-Roman architecture in a contemporary key. Four different designers were involved: as well as the Milanese-Sicilian studio founded by Carolina Martinelli and Vittorio Venezia, also the brand’s art director, Elena Salmistraro, Mario Scairato and Astrid Luglio designed the Greche coverings and the Pantalica table, both in travertine and pitchstone, drawing on the geometric style of ceramics produced in Attica and Magna Grecia from the 8th century BC onwards.
Citco, between artistic craftsmanship and technology
Another lapidary material specialist, Citco, is continuing its work with contemporary masters in a series of new pieces designed by Ron Arad, Estudio Campana, Zaha Hadid Design and Fabrizio Bendazzoli, characterised by a powerful narrative component. The word Hipocentro means “hypocentre” in Portuguese, i.e. the subterranean point where seismic energy is released. The slightly concave mirror that bears this name (design by Estudio Campana), which straddles the line between functional object and site-specific installation, seems to split open the two-coloured Brazilian marble into which it is set, communicating the idea of an explosion, or indeed an earthquake to the observer. Ayauhasca, also designed by Humberto Campana and his studio, is a coffee table carved with a pattern of marble roots. The two new pieces by Ron Arad also straddle the line between art and design, following last year’s success with Love Song. The Slice coffee table “slices” a piece of raw marble with a free, wavy and three-dimensional cut, obtained by means of sophisticated “wire cutting” technology, while his monumental Not Carved in Stone chair bears an inscription – a lengthy quote from Oscar Wilde – hand-written by the Israeli designer, triggering reflection on the relationship between artistic craftsmanship and technology.
Emmanuel Gallina for Poliform
One of the most common uses for marble and stone is undoubtedly the realisation of tables with great scenic impact. Monolith, presented by Poliform and designed by Emmanuel Gallina, draws on the powerful shapes of dolmen and menhirs, the prehistoric monuments typically found in Northern France and the British islands. It comes in both an indoor version, using more precious materials such as travertine marble and black elm that underscore its grandeur, and in an outdoor version, with the option of a basalt stone top.
More, marble and wood
The Avar table from the Hamburg-based company More boasts a solid wood top, supported by two A-shaped solid black marble legs, each made up of two superimposed elements reminiscent of some of the Alpine mountains.
Minotti, the scenography of marble
Marble and stone such as natural Avocadus quartzite, for example, with its vibrant green hues, were among the most dramatic finishes used to exalt tables, coffee tables and accessories showcased by the leading furnishing brands. The coffee tables in Minotti’s Brady family boast lythic tops, devised by Rodolfo Dordoni in a mix of formal rigour and personality.
Rodolfo Dordoni for Molteni&C
The great oval Old Ford table by Dordoni for Molteni&C comes in wood or marble (Emperador, Calacatta or Sahara Noir) with a matte or glossy polyester finish.
Piero Lissoni for Porro
In Piero Lissoni’s large ‘home’ installation for Porro, the Pascal table was showcased in an even more glitzy rendition featuring the new green Calacatta marble top.