Joe Simpson reports on the latest Marmomac, an event that celebrates natural stone and the technology, machinery and artistry that goes into creating it.
Once again, a key zone at the most recent Marmomac held in the Italian city of Verona was The Italian Stone Theatre. It is a
dedicated hall focusing on design, innovation, and experimentation. This year, the theme was “Naturality”, a characteristic that plays an increasingly important role at Marmomac.
The Italian Stone Theatre offered a complete overview of the design potential of natural stone when sculpted and finished, using the most advanced machinery and processing technologies. The versatility and accuracy of modern stone processing tools allowed architects and designers to give full expression to their creativity.
Following its debut in 2018, The Italian Stone Theatre welcomed back Brand & Stone 2.0, the exhibition that saw major furniture and high-end brands (Antonio Lupi, Aston Martin, Baxter, Casamania, Horm, and Tonino Lamborghini Casa) create specific projects for companies in the natural stone sector.
The Percorsi d’Arte (Art Ways) exhibition curated by Raffaello Galiotto investigates how machinery can be used in artistic processing of stone materials. In recent years, with the spread of numerical control technologies, businesses in the natural stone sector have installed increasingly high-performance systems.
Marmomac 2019 abounded in many similar creative spaces. Perhaps the greatest impact was achieved Lithic Garden curated by Vincenzo Pavan. Drawing on both modern and medieval examples; the Lithic Garden explored the interplay between different materials to generate new ideas for human habitat based on sustainability, balance, and harmony with nature.
Drawing on a talented pool of designers and stone processing companies, The Lithic Garden unwound along a paved path overlooked by five spaces, each marked off by three walls allowing a cross-section view of the interior garden they enclose. Horizontal and vertical surfaces, seats and sculptural elements, vegetal or water inserts gave shape to the designs that experimented with new-generation stone processing technologies.
For this installation, Zaha Hadid Code and Giuseppe Fallacara worked with Pi.Mar, Vincenzo Latina with Pizzul Marmi Aurisina, and Zenith C; Marco Piva with Lavagnoli Marmi and Pellegrini Meccanica, Setsu and Shinobu Ito with Errebi Marmi, and CZA Cino Zucchi Architetti with Franchi Umberto Marmi.
The installations were connected by a paved path developed by Cancian Pavimenti, while the relaxation spaces were designed by Alberto Minotti in collaboration with Galvani Trading and Marmi Ragano Ma.Ra.
The concept of Hortus Conclusus is taken up in Lithic Garden, with the development of five settings providing a cross-section view of the interior of a stone garden, while Natural Things seeks to rediscover the relationship between man and nature through eight new design projects.
This hall is also complemented by the Ristorante d’Autore, dedicated to gastronomic excellence in a setting that recalls rocky landscapes, and the Wine Bar.
Tired attendees could always chill out in this beguiling space curated by ADI Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige Delegation. Here, excellent food and wine was served in a welcoming, convivial and relaxing venue that offered guests the movement and sensations of the rocky landscapes.
The space featured marble and natural stone forms that had been apparently shaped and modelled over time by water, wind, and stone merge to create a single, constantly changing form.
The Ristorante d’Autore featured 14 projects, each of which was a clear designer’s snapshot, with the entire setting surrounded by evocative tree species. The featured designers were Michela Baldessari, Paolo Criveller, Luca Facchini, Valerio Facchin, Silvia Sandini, Carlo Trevisani, Simone Bellan, Alberto Vendrame, Ascanio Zocchi, and Marco Bonomo; and the stone companies taking part were Balducci Marmi, Cosi, GDA Marmi, Helios Automazioni, Intermac, Map Slate, Sassomeccanica, and T&D Robotics.
Another bold initiative is The Young Stone Project, an event dedicated to young students and researchers. It brought together stone material prototypes developed by six universities (Bari, Bologna, Pescara, Rome, Venice, and Verona) and the Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella School of Marble.
Fresh innovations at Marmomac 2019 included an educational project targeting interior designers, called Meet the Inspiration. This sought to teach interior decorators, surveyors, and architects working in showrooms how to present marble more effectively to end consumers. It closely analysed specific aspects of natural stone products and the way these materials can be used, with reference to popular furniture and social media trends.
Marmomac 2019 also proved that the show is increasingly in tune to today’s digital media. It offered new digital online catalogues: People+Products+Projects. Here, the aim was to help exhibiting companies promote themselves by highlighting their history and their entire portfolio of completed projects. This year also saw the launch of a trial related to the geolocation of visitors; a useful feature on an event of this scale that takes in the region of 12,000 metres per day to cover in full.
The new app integrates with the geolocation system in all exhibition halls so that visitors can save their favourite exhibitors, voice and text memos, as well swap digital business cards.
It ran alongside a B2B online platform for matching supply and demand offering Italian and international companies and buyers the chance to meet, arrange appointments on stands, and manage daily agendas.
Innovations at Marmomac are always too numerous to mention; but two from 2019 deserve special attention. One is Lupatoid; a new system from Lupato Meccanica that redefines rough finishes on stone. This company, known for the design and manufacture of tools and machines for rough finished stone, has developed a new system for the definition of the stone finishes. It hopes to create a new language that will become a standard.
Lupato Meccanica, which claims the first patent for a rotary bush-hammering tool, has always been committed to finding solutions in the field of rough finishes. While numerous patents have radically transformed traditional production systems and allowed to manufacture of tools to produce over 60 different finishes, the company believes that Lupatoid represent the missing piece in this revolution; one that finally gives an identity to all the finishes, overcoming the linguistic limits of both tradition and international trade.
Founded in 1983, Nassar Stone is one of the pioneers of Jerusalem Stone; now produced in several textures and finishes that do justice to the warmth and richness of the stone’s unmatched colour.
Nassar Stone now has five factories, including operations in Jordan and Oman, and a total production capacity of 2 million sqm, which is distributed to 72 countries.
At Marmomac, Nassar Stone launched the latest edition of its Original Jerusalem Gold Quarries, enhancing the company’s classic neutrals collections through the introduction of new and exclusive finishes and creative textures.
Franchi Umberto Marmi’s participation at Marmomac followed hard on the heels of the launch of the Home Design range at Salone del Mobile, Milan. This marked a fundamental step in the company’s development; one driven by a fusion of technologies, raw materials, and finished products that are absolutely environmentally sustainable.
Franchi Umberto Marmi has enhanced marbles and certain products in the Home Design range with Swarovski crystals. At Marmomac, these exclusive Advanced Crystal designs were shown next to new finished products that stem from the creative collaboration with Eugenio Biselli of Interninow. The stand featured large interactive video walls that carried the visitor into high impact scenarios, while a carpet of luminescent marble sand added an almost magical effect.
The last company to catch Discovering Stone’s eye was Mondo Marmo Design. This Italian company offered Rialto: a stylish re-interpretation of Venice’s ancient terrazzo floors. It allows personalized design and precision on a large scale. The Rialto range features water-jet cut marble inserts in various materials in calm balanced colours, such as bardiglio, pearl pink, carrara white, and Sardinian breccia.
Careful combination of moulds, water jet cutting, different marble types, and the binding pastes allows almost infinite personalisation, even for order quantities of just a few square metres. The Rialto designs are produced in three sizes; 400 by 400mm, 600 by 600mm and 1,500 by 650mm.
The company’s literature shows some highly attractive décor options including Carnevale, Sventola, Laguna, Patera, and Barena. Among the various marble chippings used to create these designs are white Carrara, black Marquina, Botticino, Emperador dark, red Verona, and Daino.
Marmomac 2019 also ran its usual tranche of awards. These include the Icon Award that celebrates the best work within the scope of The Italian Stone Theatre and will be carried forward as the image for the event’s 2020 promotional campaign. The Best Communicator Award acknowledged outstanding marketing innovation by a select few exhibiting companies; while the Archmarathon Stone Award celebrates the talent of the best international architectural studios working with stone.
Business opportunities involving natural stone remain at the heart of the event and its product categories: marble, natural stone, granite, agglomerates and conglomerates, marble blocks, unhewn stone and large formats, processing machinery and equipment, means of transport and lifting, abrasives, diamond-cutting systems, chemical products and services.
With the aim of being an increasingly effective business tool, Marmomac 2019 hosted B2B meetings in a speed dating format; with a focus on applications in three areas (luxury, slabs and tools), each with specific targets (architects, distributors, marble operators and installation technicians) from countries including Australia, USA, Canada, UK, Russia, China, South Africa, Germany, Mozambique, Turkey, and Iran.
This year, it attracted more than 69,000 trade visitors from 154 countries; drawn to a trade event featuring 1,650 exhibiting companies from 61 different countries.
As ever, Marmomac was far more than just a commercial opportunity, although the display featured an impressive spread of inspiration from the natural stone, machinery, processing technology, and applied design sectors.
With international attendees now constituting 62% of visitors, Marmomac 2019 really underlined its international reach, and its position as the key calendar date for the whole of the natural stone industry. And it is a vast event: with over 80,000sqm of exhibition space spread across12 show halls and capacious outdoor exhibition areas.
“Marmomac 54 has achieved all the goals we set,” said Maurizio Danese, president of Veronafiere, organisers of Marmomac. “The promotion of the unique qualities of natural stone, and the collaboration with Confindustria Marmomacchine within the PNA (Pietra Naturale Autentica or Authentic Natural Stone) Network, stimulated the market. We have also worked closely with ICE (Italian Trade Agency) and the Ministry of Economic Development to consolidate internationality through B2B meetings.
“Marmomac is the leading exhibition for…products as well as solutions that play a fundamental role in promoting the value chain focusing around natural stone.
“This show will receive investment through to 2022, totalling Euro 105 million, with the aim of further strengthening its international reach, and improving services for exhibitors and operators.”
This increasingly international exhibition, while continuing to focus on promoting business, also pays special attention to artistic experimentation and projects involving major luxury brands.
One of the great attractions of Marmomac is the inspiration it provides for designers, architects, processors, distributors, installers, and retailers alike.
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