If you haven’t thought about marble lately, think again. Last week’s reception at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art held by Spain’s Macael marble brand proved that nothing is “written in stone” (sorry, but the pun in unavoidable).
Sitting in the space framed by the 16th century patio of the Castle of Velez Blanco, the knee-jerk reaction was about how timeless marble is as a material and how much appeal even a centuries-old design defined by this white stone has for the modern eye. But Ines Powell, one of the museum’s educators who specializes in Spanish art, reminded the SRO audience of designers, architects and business experts that what looks classical now was cutting edge for its day—not only in terms of aesthetics, but also in the context of the craftsmanship needed to quarry and finish the marble.
The presentations on the economic and aesthetic impact of this Andalusian stone, which were sponsored by Empresarios del Marmol Asociacion, Extenda (the Trade Promotion Agency of Andalusia), Junta de Andalusia and the European Union’s Regional Development Fund, showcased the kinds of new robotic techniques and other innovations in quarrying and finishing marble that are creating fresh solutions for a broad range of design concepts.
“The trend now is toward rougher finishes,” said Andres Maza, general manager, Stone Cross. “Although we have a wide range of color options, the preferences are still white, black and gray.” New types of quarrying techniques also mean more choices for showing off the patterns within the stone, added Mikel Orbe, head of the interiors and fashion department for the Trade Commission of Spain.
It’s not just the texture, but the range of applications that justify a rethinking of how marble fits with contemporary design. Earl Jackson, head of the firm, Architectural Workshop and an adjunct professor at Columbia University, is using rough-textured Macael marble to create a series of outdoor seating options for a civic art/cultural program in Coral Gables, Florida. If you’re looking for inspiration, check this out.
Antonio Sanchez, president of the Assn. of Marble Companies of Andalusia and owner of Spanish marble exporter, Camar, offered inspiration with shots of exteriors and interiors punctuated with vibrantly colored marble as well as white-clad walls that used lighting to craft varying effects throughout the day. Ana Parados, general manager of producer/distributor Cosentino, pointed out that the inherent low porosity is opening up opportunities beyond sink and bathtubs to create hygienic surfaces for chef’s tables and other focal elements in restaurants.
Even with technology, the importance of hand-finishing continues to expand the options designers have for customization, said Gaspar Llanes, secretary of economy for the regional government of Andalusia and president of Extenda. Pedro Morenes, the ambassador of Spain to the United States, noted that customer demand for authentic materials is sparking increasing sales volume for Macael, particularly in the United States, which is the world’s largest “consumer” of natural stone.
These other companies also participated in the event: Crumar; Cuellar Stone; Marmoles Hermasa; Marmoles La Vina; Marmoles Luis Sanchez; Marmoles Gutierrez Mena; Tino Stone; Marmoles Perez Garcia and AP Marmoles.