Product design with natural stone (2): the properties of the stone must support the functionality of the everyday object

Doorstop by designer Raffaele Familari, shown at Milan Design Week, Ventura Lambrate 2016.

Weight, hardness, durability and beauty are just some of the special features that distinguish the material and that the designer can use

In the 1st part of our series, we had clarified what product design with natural stone is in general. In this 2nd part, we will focus on design that is appropriate for the material, that is, what the stone can do and how a designer can use it to support the function of an object.

1) Weight. One characteristic of natural stone is its mass. “Stone can be heavy“ we had written in the 1st part of the series.

We show (at the top) on the same aspect an object that takes up the idea of design WITH stone from the 1st part of the series: again, it is doorstops, this time by the Italian Raffaele Familari and in a composition of marble, wood and leather.

For stone companies, the question arises immediately: is such an object worthwhile at all, since only a small amount of stone is used?

An example from Brazil for design WITH stone: the freestanding coat rack “Mancebo“ made of local natural stone and wood (designer Claudia Moreira Salles for Brasigran company):
Product design from Brazil: freestanding coat rack “Mancebo“ made of local natural stone and wood (designer Claudia Moreira Salles for Brasigran company, shown at Vitória Stone Fair).

In a later installment of our series, we will discuss this in detail. At this point, only one point of view: product design is definitely worthwhile, because it works like a free marketing for the material – it brings the beauty of the stone to the private customer as well as to designers and architects.

Bookends: Line Møller Mærsk for the Norwegian company Lundhs.Another example, this time as a design FROM stone: bookends. The design is by Line Møller Mærsk for the Norwegian company Lundhs. The top is left raw, which highlights the great age and naturalness of the material. The piece weighs two kilograms, again using leftover pieces from production.

2) Hardness. Stone has been used in street paving for thousands of years. The Calçada Portuguesa, a mosaic of mostly light limestone and dark basalt and occasionally other colored varieties, has been considered the pinnacle of this art for centuries.

Bouncing game by Animum Ludendo Coles. Recently, however, modern ideas are appearing here, such as the bouncy games of the Italian company Animum Ludendo Coles. In many Italian cities, the patterns accompany children as they grow up. Our photo shows a side street in Verona, where the stones have been doing their job for years.

The hardness of the stone probably inspired the Swedish designer Erik Olovsson to his vases of the series “Drill“. The leftover pieces from the stone processing wrap themselves around the fragile glass as if protecting it. The glass, for its part, takes on the role of drill cores:

3) Durability. Directly related to hardness is the longevity of natural stone. It is obvious and common knowledge that stone can be reused in numerous cycles, until the last thing left is grit or gravel for the garden. Nature has been demonstrating this for millions of years in the cycle of rocks.

Vases from the series "Drill" by Swedish designer Erik Olovsson.

It is interesting to note that reused stone is as highly regarded by customers as the original product. This experience has been made in the USA by companies dedicated to the collection and reuse of stone.

A special feature of natural stone in this sense is also that it retains its value. The spectrum ranges from the patina of marble flooring, which is what makes an old town like Verona so valuable, to an improvement in the value of one’s own home, for example, through a kitchen countertop made of stone.

4) Energy storage. The compactness of the material stone gives it a large buffer mass for heat and equally for cold. At Berlin’s new BER airport, the floor covering of natural stone helps the underfloor heating or cooling. Even the ancients in warm countries knew that marble in the courtyard of a building can stabilize temperatures and contribute to a tolerable indoor climate. Increasingly, young architects are again dealing with this issue.

Production of fudge using a marble worktop.Today, confectioners use thick stone slabs again, for example, to make special sweets (fudge).

5) A natural material. Whereas in the industrial age of the 20th century, industrial uniformity, for example in the surfaces of tiles, was very popular with consumers, today naturalness has a higher priority. What is appreciated by customers today is that each stone is unique.

High-rise Two Union Square in Seattle (architects: NBBJ).Designers like to use the veins in the stone to set special accents on a wall, for example at the high-rise Two Union Square in Seattle, USA, by NBBJ architects.

6) Stone has a surface that people like to touch. Sculptor Henry Moore explicitly requested that exhibition visitors touch his works.

Other properties of stone we just want to mention:

7) Stone carries home.

8) Stone is beautiful. Since ancient times, this has been the most important aspect of using marble in particular. Beyond mere beauty, stone even has a mysterious magic.

Our list is not complete, but only a first attempt. Send us your additions (to: Peter BECKER, Mail).

In the 3rd part of our series, we will look at the current trend in stone design: besides the design FROM stone, which is mostly seen at stone fairs, there is also the design WITH stone, which is very successfully shown at design or architecture fairs.

See also:

(28.07.2021, USA: 07.28.2021)