Natural stone: where design and nature meet
Discover how natural stone continues today to represent the meeting point between nature and design
Natural stone: where design and nature meet
The word “unique” is often overused, but in the case of natural stone, there can surely be no argument. Its extraordinary array of colours and variety of patterning and veins have made it a symbol of elegance and sophistication since time immemorial, while its durability made it the ideal choice for monuments and edifices built to withstand the centuries.
This appreciation, some might even say adoration, of natural stone remains undimmed today, with designers and architects the world over finding new and innovative ways to use it, thus ensuring their buildings, artwork or designs will endure for generations to come.
Even when used in mass-produced products, stone manages to imprint something unique on each piece, infusing it with soul and individuality so that it is transformed from a mere cookie-cutter item to a precious object to be treasured.
Stone and wood: a match made in heaven
As if its extraordinary beauty and longevity weren’t enough, natural stone boasts another benefit and that is the way it can sit alongside other natural materials in perfect harmony.
Surely one of the most pleasing pairings, both to the eye and soul, is that of stone and wood. It really is a dream team of two completely natural materials, both redolent with history. It’s little wonder that so many stunning pieces of architecture contain this combination that is not only beautiful to look at, but also fulfils our modern-day longing to get closer to nature and the earth’s warmth.
To explain this concept more fully, let’s take a closer look at these two extraordinary elements and see just how they work together both in décor elements and in modern architecture.
The harmony of stone and wood in décor, Salvatori style
Salvatori has long been synonymous with innovation in the stone industry, developing techniques that enable us to work with thicknesses and at speeds previously unheard of, while challenging the norms of today’s “fast design” though products that combine aesthetics, functionality and sustainability.
The innate synthesis between stone and marble is something that we have long understood, and we have always tried to apply fresh thinking when it comes to how to interpret it in our designs and products.
Our Raw texture, for example, is our take in limestone or marble of the effect of hewn wood, whilst Stone Parquet recreates traditional wooden flooring. Similarly, in finishes such as Stone Tatami, Chevron and perennial favourite Bamboo, we see how the worlds of stone and wood intersect, not only in aesthetic aspects, but also the tile size and way they are laid, recalling the warmth and familiarity of wood, but in a material that is stronger and longer-lasting.
Here, the intrinsic warmth of wood, in smooth and ribbed finishes, pairs seamlessly with the coolness of stone to evoke a feeling of being at one with nature, accentuated by the essential element of water.The Adda drawers find a place outside the bathroom too, providing stylish and elegant storage solutions for the bedroom and living room.
Another versatile piece is the Colonnata bookcase, a striking example of functional design by Piero Lissoni. Combining thermo-treated oak with dividers made from natural stone in a variety of colours, it can be placed against the wall or used to strategically break up a large open plan space.
These happy pairings of two entirely natural materials remind us that often it’s the simplest things that work together best, creating beautiful objects to look at whilst nourishing the soul.
The harmony of stone and wood in architecture: Oslo Opera House
As we wrote above, the juxtaposition of natural stone and wood is also widespread in contemporary architecture and what better example than the Oslo Opera House.
Opened in 2008, the vision of architectural firm Snøhetta was to create a building that was completely integrated with its surroundings, in other words, a total fusion of architecture and the landscape.
Their idea was a structure that evoked the image of an enormous iceberg rising up from the frozen waters of the North and Baltic seas that spill into the fjord containing the Norwegian capital. The brief for the project also required, however, that it was easily accessible to the public and this was addressed through a gently sloping roof that reaches right down to the ground, allowing visitors to walk all over it and enjoy wonderful views of the city.
For an environment so deeply entrenched in the city, its culture and people, natural materials were the – well, natural – choice. The exteriors and ramp are clad in highly resistant stones such as Swedish granite, lightly brushing the water, and Bianco Carrara from Northern Tuscany, chosen not only for its beauty and durability, but also for its ability to evoke the image of the biting cold of the fjord’s icy waters.
To create a contrast with the glacial coldness of the exterior, the architects opted for wood inside in a tribute to its warm, welcoming properties that make it such a mainstay of Scandinavian design.
In playing with the inherent qualities of these two natural materials, Snøhetta struck a perfect harmony between the typical Norwegian habitats and landscape, showing once again how stone and wood together create an environment that brings mankind and nature closer together.