Award-winning American textile and product designer Lori Weitzner is used to working with textiles and paper, but when the opportunity presented itself to design a line of natural stone tiles with Artistic Tile, she didn’t hesitate. The result is a new collection that weaves two distinctly different disciplines – stone carving and fabric weaving – which ultimately resulted in a product that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Before she could develop any designs, Weitzner visited the Artistic Tile Slab Gallery to learn what options were available. The gallery, located just minutes from Manhattan in Secaucus, New Jersey, is home to hundreds of curated slabs from around the world, including marble, quartzite, and limestone.
“Taking a walk in the Artistic Tile warehouse was like being a kid in a candy store,” admits Weitzner. As she walked down one wide aisle after another of stone slabs, she quickly realized how many different types of natural stone were available in the marketplace. She began to consider what kind of designs she could develop that would take into account her expertise as a textile designer while creating something that Artistic Tile didn’t already have in its collections.
“We knew Lori would appreciate the challenge of creating her signature textural effect in natural stone, and that she would help us deliver a fresh design carved in classic favorites like Bianco Carrara and Bardiglio marble,” says Nancy Epstein, founder and CEO of Artistic Tile.
The Endless Possibilities of Natural Stone
Choosing which types of natural stones to work with to develop a collection was going to be fun and Weitzner knew right away that she wanted to select stones that would enhance the patterns they were designing, and not fight the design. “As a textile designer, I wanted them to feel extremely tactile and soft, even though the surfaces were going to be hard,” she says.
Weitzner’s specialty in working with textiles and paper means she’s always thinking about dimension and texture and how to mix interesting materials. Roaming the aisles of the Artistic Tile Slab Gallery gave her a crash course on natural stone and showed her the intricacies of some stones while considering the possibilities others would afford.
With a nod toward her style of textiles and wallcoverings, Weitzner began developing concepts that were organic, nature-inspired, super tactile, and very dimensional, either in actuality or visually.
“From there, we spent about six weeks creating six different boxes with concepts in each one that had their roots in all the techniques we use in textile or paper making: weaving, embossing, printing, embroidering, sewing, folding, etc.,” explains Weitzner. “Then we presented these ideas and honed in on the ones that Artistic Tile felt they could reproduce successfully.”
Natural stones were chosen based on the end result of color and technique, getting the most woven-looking effect.
“Nothing compares to natural stone,” says Epstein. “Stone can be carved and textured, and the colors show the contrast between the texture and the stone.”
The Sophistication of Natural Stone
Throughout the process of designing and working with natural stone, Weitzner learned that like textiles, there are many techniques that can be applied to create various products, looks, finishes, and textures in stone.
Starting with open-ended ideas and not limiting herself to only what she considered possible encouraged her to be more creative with her designs. Since all stones are unique and have a personality of their own, Weitzner knew they had to make sure that the patterns they created would enhance and not disturb the inherent beauty of the stone.
Epstein and her team realized they were able to manipulate the stone surface to look and feel very different than anything they had achieved in the past.
“Lori’s approach led us to reconsider the stone canvas in new ways, creating a finished product that spoke to her aesthetic for texture and pattern, integrated with our experience of marble and stone technology,” Epstein notes.
Artistic Tile was excited to work with a designer who was willing to push the envelope and mix multiple techniques to get a more complex surface. “Our inspiration was Moro’s woven fabrics so we tried to consider methods to expose different layers and textures within the stone surface,” says Epstein.
The River and Forest Collection
Weitzner and Artistic Tile worked together to release what they call the River and Forest collection. The two designs within the collection are an interpretation of the flow and organic tranquility of nature and use textile design techniques such as pleating, origami, and voided velvet to create a fabric-like effect on natural stone. The nature-inspired patterns will particularly appeal to those who want to create a tranquil space in their home, according to Epstein.
Even the colors choices were intentional and deliberate. In Weitzner’s new book, Ode to Color: The Ten Essential Palettes for Living and Design, she explains the effect of particular color palettes on the mood and atmosphere of a space. One of those color palettes is “whisper” and it was that palette that helped inform both Forest and River.
In Forest and River, Bardiglio Nuvolato and Bianco Carrara marble were used as part of the “whisper” palette to evoke a sense of calmness while textured China Black marble was used in the “night shadows” palette to create an elegant design for more contemporary spaces.
“Lori has developed a process of personalized Color Analysis which she performs for her clients to find the right palettes to fit their personalities and the mood they’re looking to achieve within a space,” adds Epstein. “Whisper creates a tranquil, Zen atmosphere, while night shadows sets a more contemporary and seductive tone.”
The Unmistaken Beauty of Natural Stone
Natural stone appeals to many of us because it’s timeless and speaks to our desire for a sustained connection to nature. The unique collaboration between Weitzner and Artistic Tile shows the possibilities that exist when it comes to allowing ourselves to expand our horizons. It doesn’t have to stop with the collaboration. It can also apply in how the natural stone is incorporated into our spaces.
While Epstein notes the 12” by 24” natural stone tiles would work well in a spa-like bathroom where they can be installed on shower walls as well as the main walls, or for a space designated for relaxation and meditation, they could be stunning on a fireplace or feature wall, where the details of the carved stone can be admired as art work.
Just as Weitzner was excited at the possibilities of creating with natural stone, so can designers and homeowners be in applying it to different types of settings.