Stonemasonry is currently experiencing epochal change. At the center of transition stand current trends of a modern world, converging with time-honored material. Forerunners of the demand for change are responsible use of resources, new technology and speeding up of the work-pace.
When working stone, new concepts evolve, e.g.: „twinned or derived forms“, according to Italian industrial designer and pioneer in his branch, Raffaello Galiotto. He discusses some of these aspects in an article he wrote for the Italian trade magazine „Area“ (Nr 154, September 2017). Here is a digest of his point of view together with some comments of our own:
1) Sustainability. Treating natural resources and energy with due respect is a core demand of our society, but one to which the stone branch has paid attention peripherally at best in the past. But in fact, natural stone is millions of years old and created by nature itself. It deserves particular respect.
Care in handling presupposes avoiding waste.
Take, for example, the sculptor: up until now, sculptors have extracted a shape from a raw block using hammer and chisel in an exercise of free interpretation of Michelangelo’s theory (the artwork lies hidden in the raw block, the sculptor only sets it free).
The result was a work of art surrounded by heaps of stone chips which suddenly became waste.
Stonemasons still work according to this principle.
Galiotto’s demand is to replace the old subtractive methods with other means of creating a work of art. He sums it up under the term „Recomposition“, i.e. cutting the raw block in such a manner that pieces can be reassembled to a larger whole with little or no waste.
The most recent example is a monumental arch called Arcolitico (left and photo below). It is composed of a number of single pieces derived almost naturally from a raw block and merely stacked one atop the other.
Variation of recomposition is the „twinned or derived forms“, an idea which Galiatto has realized many times since its conception with the help of a CNC-Machine. Some of his pieces were exhibited at Marmomac’s Hall 1 in the „Italian Stone Theatre“.
His book „Marmo 4.0“ provides an overview of the works.
The concept of twinned or derived forms is also eco-friendly: one cut provides two smooth surfaces.
2) Speeding up processes or acceleration. This in one more aspect forging its way into the stone branch. Speeding up processes entails higher efficiency, which cuts costs. Up until recently, stonemasons were spared from the whip as stone required much handicraft and could be worked only at a slow pace with much diligence.
But now CNC machines and waterjets can get the job done in a fraction of the time. Galiotto predicts: „Stonemasonry workshops are changing into technologically advanced factory shops, in which physical effort, noise and dust have been reduced to a decisive extent, to the benefit of the people working there and of the companies’ productivity.“
Greater productivity is achieved by speeding up processes or increasing quality of production – these are well known facts.
But, you may ask, „Is this still craftsmanship?“
3) Galiotto addresses yet another aspect, beyond the scope of our article: CNC-machines produce surfaces requiring manual finishing. He encourages stonemasons to apply pressure on machine producers with the aim of improving the final product.
Area Nr. 154 (Italian, English)
(29.05.2019, USA: 05.29.2019)