This May, Aria Stone Gallery kicked off its annual Hand-Selection Excursion to Italy with a bang, traveling in style with Dallas-based visionary and interior designer Laura Lee Clark. Aside from the gorgeous sights and sounds of the country, this sourcing trip was made even more special, ending with Laura Lee’s selection of 5 materials to be featured in her first-time-ever exclusive stone collection for Aria Stone Gallery. The Aria team collaborated with Laura Lee Clark to choose these beautiful stones to be the first of many within The Laura Lee Clark Collection, and the journey leading up to hand-selecting each stone couldn’t have been more exhilarating. After the trip, The Aria Stone Gallery team sat down with Laura Lee Clark for an exclusive interview of her experience choosing the stones for her finely curated collection.
ASG: How would you describe your experience in Italy on Aria Stone Gallery’s hand selection trip?
LLC: The trip was truly all encompassing. We saw the entire process of the quarry, from the cutting of blocks into slabs, to impregnating the slabs with epoxy, polishing/finishing the slabs, and finally the fabrication of the material for high-end projects. We met with the material suppliers and walked their magnificent showrooms. And most importantly, we learned what to look for in a block of stone in order to ensure purchasing a material that has the highest quality, beauty and integrity.
ASG: What was your impression of the Borghini quarry?
LLC: When describing the Borghini quarry, it is not possible to impress upon the listener its colossal scale. As our jeep climbed the narrow winding roads up the mountainside we were filled with anticipation of the adventure that was ahead of us. Our private tour was led by none other than a member of the Borghini family. We were truly awestruck as we entered the quarry and learned that we would soon be standing in the exact location that Michelangelo’s marble was quarried for his masterpieces. For the entire tour we were completely blanketed in the most beautiful white marble I had ever seen.
ASG: What was you most memorable moment from the hand selection trip to Italy?
LLC: The most memorable moment of our trip was definitely our exclusive tour of the Borghini quarry, because we were able to see the very earliest stages of mining blocks, to slab fabrication in our very own homes. I was also quite stunned by our accommodations in Verona, at the lovely Villa Cordevigo. This hotel was basically a 17th Century country mansion with colorful terrazzo floors, stucco walls and beautiful hand painted wall decorations. It was full of unbelievable character and charm.
ASG: What type of inspiration did you see on your trip that you would like to see in your projects?
LLC: Aside from seeing so many unique and exquisite marbles in their raw block form, I was also inspired by the use of finished marble throughout the villages that we visited. The sidewalks and streets were beautifully lined with Rosa Verona and Carrara. As we continue to educate our clients about the characteristics of the marbles used in our projects, I will never forget how these materials have held up to centuries of human contact and weathering. Due to the high quality of projects that my team is working on, I have been able to use the most genuine natural stone much more often. Therefore, I was so inspired by the unabashed use of natural stone in my hotel bathroom. I will continue to use the wealth of knowledge I received on this trip for the rest of my lifetime!
ASG: What drew you to sourcing these particular stones for The Laura Lee Clark Collection? Where do you visualize each of these slabs?
Azul Maya Honed Marble – Guest suite bathroom. The soft, striated warm grays with white and ivory veining is elegant, serene and modern.
Calacatta Vintage – Master bath walls or kitchen backsplash. This stone has such a timeless look. I love the consistency of the veining and subtle hints of blue, lavender and sage.
Gris De Savoie Honed – A butler’s pantry. This material is has a richness and depth with the gradation of warm grey tones. It reminds me of the dramatic effect of approaching storm clouds.
Pierre Bleue Limestone Honed – The bar countertop or the foyer floor. This slab has a striking white vein that stunningly contrasts with the complex textural, charcoal backdrop.
Opal White – The powder bath walls and countertop. This is a very soft and chic material, exuding a unique luminescent quality.
ABOUT LAURA LEE CLARK FALCONER
Interior Designer Laura Lee Clark Falconer understands that a truly successful design blends a collection of high-quality pieces from various periods and styles, while also using tasteful restraint. “I find that careful editing is essential to good design,” Falconer says. “I like to create unexpected combinations of finishes, fabrics, and custom-designed furnishings while integrating antique elements, all the while striving for a sophisticated look.”
By listening to each client’s needs and desires, she earns their trust in order to establish the foundation and principles for successful design. This designer’s staff is as dedicated as she is to the firm’s valued clientele and they maintain a high level of organization and consistent contact with suppliers.
A student of the Parsons School of Design in Italy, she offers her clients more than 25 years of experience in high-end residential design. She is also the recipient of several Silver Style awards, Legacy of Design awards, ASID Design Ovation awards, and she has been named “Best Designer” by her peers in D Home magazine since 2005. Recently her work has been published in “Inspirations from France and Italy” and “The French Room”, both by Betty Lou Phillips.