From neolithic idols to the Taj Mahal, the history of marble has undergone a design evolution over the centuries, weaving from “the spoon to the city”, and the infinitely small to the infinitely large. The unique potential of this stone has in fact given body and volume to objects chiseled to last forever. Marble, after all, seems to be nature’s response to the fleetingness of time: fragile and unshakable, it leaves traces in our everyday lives and even in life after death — from commemorative busts to marble tombstones. And while monuments like churches and altars amplify the stone's cold spirit, binding it to honor and institution, masterpieces like Michelangelo’s Pietà and Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss transform marble into a poetic tale, shining light on that marvelous maieutic strength that pulls pure emotion from a statuary block.
Between the objective wonder of great works and the sentimental involvement aroused by sculpture, design finds itself right in the middle, exploiting the constructive and expressive properties of the rocky material for large surfaces or small accessories as the perfect pairing of function and aesthetic, and utility and form. To honor the profound link uniting the culture of the stone and the creativity of artisanal masters, Marmomac returns each year as the most important fair in the world dedicated to the entire stone production chain, from the quarry to the final product, and from the technologies and machinery to tools.
The 2020 edition, on from September 30 to October 3, was unveiled online with Marmomac ReStart Digital Edition, the first completely digital event organized by Veronafiere. The platform dedicated to networking and education, activated after postponing the physical fair to 2021 due to the pandemic, hosted 4,975 users — all industry professionals from over 135 nations. From Italy to China and the most active markets of India, Brazil, USA, Turkey (among others), the fair confirmed a worldwide fascination with marble. “People like marble at the click of a button, in particular the visitors from abroad who made up 60% of the audience, demonstrating the strong international presence already attained at the physical fair,” commented Giovanni Mantovani, general manager of Veronafiere. “The global natural stone community responded well, confirming the appeal of Marmomac.” In addition to the 3,100 products and 840 projects loaded on the profiles of exhibitors, there were also talks, live streaming events, and updated courses for those in the field. Among the webinars available was that from Livia Peraldo Matton, Elle Decor Italia’s Editor in Chief, who discussed the role of marble in contemporary interior design with architects Massimo Adario and Giuliano Dell’Uva. Torn between pure ornament and architecture, the stone reveals its most flexible, transversal and avant-garde spirit to those who have mastered the material with respect and grace. When, in 1953, the Plancharts asked Gio Ponti for a contemporary home in Caracas, did the famous designer not respond with the pink marble of Candoglia — the very same used for the Milanese spires? “My bathroom is the same color as the Duomo of Milan,” said Anala.
In its purity, marble reveals itself as a narrative material exploring both new and ancient living styles: the veining, the imperfections, and the tones that distinguish it are in fact visible traces of a centuries-old pattern at the service of design. From sweeping floors to furnishings, a partnership forged to last forever tightens with the spaces that surround it. Even in the most minute objects. For this, our Design Favorites of the Week is a (short) story of small and great ideas molded in marble.
Antoniolupi - Intreccio
Intreccio by Antoniolupi comes as the perfect synthesis between nature and technology: recently awarded the Compasso d’Oro Adi 2020 Honorable Mention, the sink designed by Paolo Ulian is born from a 11 cm block of marble optimizing cuts to create concentric circles with a three-dimensional volume. Featuring a final weight of 55 kg, the project employs a mechanism of green production aimed at drastically reducing the waste of this prized material.
Alimonti Milano - Candela 0,5 kg
The newest candle collection from Alimonti Milano comes as proof of just how soft marble can be in a small-scale project. Among the brand’s various reinterpretations combining wax and lithic material, 0.5 kg is the total black version. The welcoming and scented sensation capturing the essence of Brera includes hints of juniper, coriander and pink pepper, and is held in a caviar-colored case available in three variants: Calacatta marble, silver marble and limestone.
Marsotto Edizioni - Ballerina
Oval or round tables in White Carrara and Black Marquina compose the Ballerina collection designed by Oki Sato and his studio, Nendo Design, in 2017 for Marsotto Edizioni. Elegant and tapered towards the top, furnishings from the company specializing in marble works reflect all the creative minimalism of the Japanese designer. A simple gesture perfectly balances a light weight: like a dancer on tiptoe, the legs support a stable and statuary marble surface.
Antolini - Natural Stones
The Natural Stones collection by Antolini translates the expressive potential of marble into warm and welcoming atmospheres. In particular, for this space consecrated to wellness, the company founded in 1956 in Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella exploits the beauty of Blue Quartz, a siliceous stone with an incredible crystalline aspect that lends a three-dimensional effect to surfaces. Backlit, the quartz creates surprising light effects and multicolored contrasts.
Driade - Venus
For Driade, Fabio Novembre inserts a marbled work in the center of a wooden bookcase in Venus, intercepting the piece across various shelves. Sawn effect oak contrasts with cold marbled materiality to craft a sculpture embellished with books, volumes, and prized objects to display. An homage to the beauty of Greek art that recalls the other face of Novembre — the Nemo seat.
Budri per Valextra - MarVles
Returning to the dear spoon of Nathan Rogers, MarVles presents the marble of Budri within the stylistic spirit of Valextra, a company specializing in stone and fashion brand celebrated for its accessories. The touch of Patricia Urquiola then reinterprets a collection of bags with a mix of impeccable craftsmanship and technology. The project, which includes a series of 19 Iside handbags in limited edition, is distinguished by the introduction of inlaid motifs on leather and accessories like handles and closures realized in a palette of prized marbles including Verde Alpi, Cipollino, Nero Marquina, Statuary, Azul, Rosso Alicante, and Rosa Lapis.
Visionnaire - Kobol
The warmth of wood and strength of steel is woven with the fascination of marble for Visionnaire’s Kobol vanity, designed by Alessandro La Spada. Back as a symbol of aesthetic beauty (and domestic utility), this version of the vanity lends a contemporary charm to the antique petineuse. The console ideated by the “designer with the makings of an artisan” is a light composition with retro references that brings an intimate wellness to any space.
Salvatori - Pliss
Elisa Ossino has designed a sideboard with a sculptural taste for Salvadori Pliss, revolutionizing the classical version in wood as a piece with a strong visual and tactile impact. The doors of the credenza conceived by the architect and interior stylist move all along the horizontal surface, creating the perfect pleat. Marble is softened so as to be molded like a fabric, following a sequence of small, sculptural grooves.
Alfaterna Marmi - Cava
Realized in white Carrara marble, Cava is a project from Domenico Orefice for Alfaterna Marmi dedicated to working the stone and its symbolic setting: the cave. Through a surface treatment, materialistic textures are created to reproduce the effects of nature impressed on the stone. Displayed at Edit Napoli 2020, this fruit bowl is the result of a particular working method that exploits erosion by water.