Message From The Owner
It all started when I visited the National Museum in Stockholm and had the opportunity to explore their installation of Slow Art and understand its philosophy and fundamentals. Like the burgeoning Slow Food movement’s call to think about where our meals come from, Slow Art is about being more aware of the origin and history of the materials used in artwork. It forces people to concentrate on a single piece rather than zoom by, fighting the desire to graze and instead diving deep. I was intrigued by the concept of appreciating the beauty of slowly and carefully developed art, and started to wonder how I could apply those concepts to the stone industry and design world. And that’s where Aria comes in. It’s about truly appreciating the food, the painting or in Aria’s case the pieces of Art that nature has created so slowly over centuries.
Another branch of this phenomenon is Slow Travel. Advocates of this movement argue that too often the potential pleasure of the journey is lost by the too eager anticipation of arrival. Slow Travel, it is asserted, is a state of mind, which allows travelers to engage more fully with communities along their route, often favoring visits to spots enjoyed by local residents than merely following guidebooks. It’s in this context that I strongly encourage you to look – slowly, deliberately and thoughtfully – at each one of our carefully hand-picked slabs and immerse yourself in the history and uniqueness of each one of the pieces in our collection.
“We wanted to create a museum-like atmosphere that would force people to concentrate on a single piece rather than zoom by, fighting the desire to graze and instead diving deep, discovering the intricacies of a particular slab and hopefully resulting in an emotional connection to one of our stones”
Vinny’s Natural Stone Manifesto
What happened to waiting for the great things in life to present themselves when the time is ripe?
And what does that mean in a stone context? It means you can’t rush the marble. You can’t dictate how the next block – or using today’s fast manufacturing mentality- the next “batch”, – will look, which directions the veining is going to run or how white the background is going to be. You can’t set the parameters of the next “production”. There’s no defined “next production”.
It sounds cliche but “next production” might mean next spring because the winter was too wet in the Apuan mountains and marble blocks couldn’t be reached. It’s not very different than pursuing the next special Bordeaux vintage. You can’t simply reengineer a ton of grapes into great wine. Not only do you need the right conditions, the proper soil, weather, and temperature but also the right attitude: you can’t speed through the process and expect greatness. The word “vintage” itself implies maturity, time, patience. Some describe it as the ability to work or respond to the environment in an appropriate matter. This couldn’t be truer for marble.
Unfortunately all of that means you can’t really pre design a marble slab. You can’t press “start” in a machine and voila, the “perfect” marble slab comes out on the other side of the assembly line. Maybe this quest for perfection is what led to the creation of quartz slabs…. the promise of a better surface. But if indeed better, why design quartz after natural stone? Why are they trying to look like marble anyway? If it’s a superior product why can’t it stand on its own, by its own design? Where is its authenticity?
Does producing 300 slabs per day – of the same exact slab – seems special to you? Maybe it is for you if you are the only factory doing it. But what happens if there are 300 more factories doing it? Are all those marble-looking slabs as special as their manufacturers aspire to convince us to believe? Or are they just the re-interpretation of another mass-produced item with the intention of tricking us into believing we are consuming a better version of the original? Fake pearls, anyone?
Whether it’s synthetic fabric, artificial turf or engineered stone, you just can’t out-design the real thing. However, that doesn’t mean the attempt to standardize Mother Nature shouldn’t have its place in society. We just can’t kid ourselves pretending it belongs in the realm of luxury. One key aspect associated with luxury is scarcity. Another one is genuineness… and both are lacking on “calacatta” look-alike quartz slabs. Processed cheese, anyone?
I personally would rather work with truly special things… things we can’t control 100%, things that are subject to nature, to other forces…things that maybe at first frustrate us more than what we are willing to understand. But eventually it always reveals itself. The same way that a shiny piece of plastic is not diamond, that faux leather is not parchment, that nylon is not cashmere, that forcefully compressed quartz minerals blended with artificial pigments and chemicals IS NOT genuine stone. Marketing it in glossy magazines with top models on top of it might for a moment reminisce the allure of marble. But upon further inspection it’s clear it’s just an attempt to look like the real thing.
All of this is to say that in a world where authenticity seems to be lacking, we shall all take the time and ask ourselves: what are we really trying to accomplish here? If it’s just the introduction of another ubiquitous countertop surface so that we can move on to the next important thing in our lives, then quartz, or any other “stone” material, including “off the mill” natural stone for that matter, will do the trick. But if we are pursuing something truly special, unique and one of a kind then we need to go back to time-tested things. There are no shortcuts. A Synthesizer keyboard doesn’t feel or sound like a live Steinway. There’s no other surface that will look or feel as bespoke as a one-in-a-thousand slab of marble.
At Aria, we promise the real thing, the best nature has to offer. It might not be “human expectation” perfect but it’s the best that has always been and probably ever will be.
Some of most succulent apples might come with spots. But it’s much better than the chemical, bountiful, perfectly shaped alternative. As the song goes:
“Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don’t care about spots on my apples,
Leave me the birds and the bees”. It’s the same thing for stone. Fissures and natural pits are part of it. That’s where Craftmanship plays an important role. That’s where human ingenuity comes in. But not in a plastic way. We don’t need to kill the bees to enjoy the apple. We just need to incorporate it in the art (process) of harvesting the fruit. What do we call again the ability to work with what the environment has to offer?
At Aria, we are proud of working with the elements that life provides us with in their most genuine and authentic form, which in our case is the naturally perfect marble slab.
Owner and Founder