The Manifesto For Natural Stone: Vinny Tavares of Aria Stone Gallery shares what he thinks makes natural stone an irreplaceable art form.
Aria Stone Gallery’s Port Black and Sahara Noir marble add a touch of masculinity and flair to this once-empty, white boxy house.
Fall is right around the corner and we have carefully taken note of the best trends and styles that you will want to include in your next project.
One way to enjoy color and create a cohesive look is to start with a neutral palette and add splashes of color. The Breccia Capraia Marble is an incredible marble, known for vivid mixture of white and dark grey veining. This marble also has simple, jewel colored hues that add bursts of color to create a polished look. By adding neutral, earthy elements such as wood and your favorite colorful fall flower arrangement and you will have a lovely, sophisticated design.
The old “you can’t wear white after Labor Day” rule definitely does not apply to this modern, white wonderland. The trick for creating the perfect, crisp, clean, look without making your space feel too clinical is texture, texture, texture. Aria Stone Gallery’s Hanoi Pure White marble has flecks of sparkling quartz throughout, which adds dimension and texture to any project. Finish this project with textiles in cool, complimenting colors that are warm to the touch.
Get swept away in a colorful sea of blue. Aria Stone Gallery’s Azul Imperiale Extra Quartzite is everything you need to make a colorful statement wall that will command attention. Perfect for a bookmatch design, the veining moves over the canvas as waves on the beach, instantly transporting you back to your summer vacation during these upcoming chilly months.
Classic and forever stylish, high contrasting black and white statements are staples for interior designers, such as Lucinda Loya, who ensures that “all of her projects include contrast, but all have color.” Marbles such as Dalmata and Panda are perfect for achieving this powerful look.
Add a feminine touch to your design with pink materials and textures. With colors like Millenial Pink being at the forefront for 2017 trends, we are also seeing designers and homeowners becoming more comfortable using pink in fun and unexpected designs. One way to create a lively, unexpected design is to use a material such as Onyx Kilimanjaro, which has the ability to be backlit with an LED panel. This natural stone has pink and red hues in the sunlight and emits a warm, rich amber glow when backlit.
Stripes and lines are a favorite amongst designers for creating movement and playing optical tricks making spaces feel longer and taller. The White Macaubas Quartzite is an elegant natural stone that has a linear pattern of dark grey, creamy white, and sandy brown that will tie in your design and create that grand space you have been searching for.
Here at Aria Stone Gallery, we talk about how we have the most unique and beautiful slabs; but what does that mean? How are Aria’s slabs different from the rest? Aria’s owner, Vinny Tavares, travels around the world, from the Carrara Region in Italy, to the quarries of Brazil, to hand select every slab that is brought to Aria. What is it exactly that Vinny is looking for when he purchases Aria’s slabs?
Quality over Quantity
In the natural stone industry, many stone suppliers will carry stock colors and commercial-grade materials that they always have on hand. Aria Stone Gallery focuses on quality over quantity and does not carry stock materials. If we sell out of a material and find that the quarry isn’t currently producing a slab that meets our standards for that same type of material, we won’t bring it in. Instead, we will wait until the quarry finds another incredible and rare bundle.
Aria Stone Gallery’s Standards and Criteria for Purchasing Stone from the Quarry
When our owner Vinny goes to a quarry, he uses a set of standards, where he grades every slab of stone from 1 to 10. The quality and uniqueness of slabs are graded based upon the 5 factors: richness of color, structure (i.e., whether the slab is sturdy or has core holes), size, vein composition, and natural quality. Vinny only purchases slabs that are considered a nine or ten.
- Grade 1-2: Should not be mined from the quarry.
- Grade 3-6: Lacking in 2 or more of our quality standard test.
- Grade 7-8: Okay material, but lacking in one of the standards.
- Grade 9: Nearly perfect in color, composition, structure, size, veining, quality.
- Grade 10: Perfect in color, structure, size, veining, quality.
How does Aria mitigate between beauty and natural fissures?
Sometimes when a stone is more exotic, it is more delicate. The reason many stone suppliers don’t carry exotic material is that it is a risk to transport internationally. The stone supplier really has to know how to move the material safely. Sometimes things are so beautiful, they are worth the risk.
Has Aria ever sent material back because it arrived in a lesser condition than you bought it?
Yes. Once Aria’s material arrives in the states, our staff inspects each slab, and if the slab is not up to our standards, it will never make it to either Aria’s showroom or online. For example, not too long ago we received a bundle of Lemurian. When the quarry polished the surface, they did not allow enough time for the drying process before the slab was loaded into the crate. So, when the slab was unloaded in the States, the slab had cracked and had huge divots everywhere. In this case, we would send the material back to the quarry rather than selling the stone at a discounted price.
How are Aria Stone Gallery’s standards different from other stone suppliers?
We are providing to a niche. Aria stone Gallery’s product is just a fraction of what is out there. As mentioned before, we do not carry stock products, staple colors, or low-to-mid grade exotics. In the off chance that we do have a middle grade exotic, it will be the most beautiful middle grade exotic that the quarry has every produced. Typical stone suppliers tend to carry five to ten percent of the quality that is stocked at Aria.
Unlike buying a man-made product, which can be done on demand, purchasing stone is a much more subjective exercise. Quarries go through bad phases, yielding undesirable blocks, and they often face regulatory issues, all of which restricts the fine buying or what Aria calls the “pursuit of the perfect stone.”
Many stone distributors are primarily focused on filling purchase orders – and that may be okay settling for an ordinary slab. At Aria Stone Gallery, we don’t sell ordinary slabs – we don’t have a standard list of “stone we carry”. The good thing about natural stone is that new quarries are always being discovered, new blocks are constantly being processed and you never know when the most dramatic slab is about to be cut. It’s a bit like baseball – the trick is not to fall for the temptation of swinging at every pitch. At Aria Stone Gallery we would rather be out of a popular stone color than have a mediocre slab in stock.
These designs are guaranteed to brighten up every day at the office with earthy and eye-catching natural stone showstoppers. Whether you are trying to make a grand first impression or set the tone for an important conference, these offices will make a statement.
This stunning feature wall of Mercury White marble makes for a grand entrance that you will not forget. Not only are clients greeted on the way in with a stunning natural work of art, but they are also able to enjoy the stone on the interior of the conference room.
Set the tone in the executive offices with a sophisticated boardroom, such as this one at Grande Cheese. The Architects at Gensler fashioned a slab of Calacatta Retro marble into a sleek conference table that means business.
Pairing clean lines and a symmetrical bookmatched design is welcoming and evokes a sense of serenity. The floating marble design mixed with the dark wood paneling creates an eye catching focal point on this stunning natural work of art.
Each type of natural stone has different characteristics and composition, which is what draws so many designers to incorporate these earthy and unique elements into their designs. The composition and inherent properties of each stone is different, which is what gives us the colorful quartzite, timeless marble, and opaque onyx.
There are varying degrees of porosity and hardness between materials because each type of stone is created differently. Meaning, some stones require more care than others and there is not one blanket way to care for natural stone. However, there are certainly ways that you can preserve and prevent your natural stone through regular maintenance.
Use Sealers on Your Natural Stone to Avoid Staining
We recommend that all natural stone is sealed to help protect your natural work of art from any spills or messes that life throws your way. And while some sealers create a stronger barrier than others, nothing is 100% stain or scratch proof. Note that sealers also require some type of regular maintenance. Whether that maintenance is every few months or every few years is greatly dependent on your type of stone, your sealer, and what you are using your natural stone for.
One general rule to avoiding stains can be universally applied to most instances, whether you spilled spaghetti sauce on your favorite blouse or on your marble counter: The longer a liquid sits on the material, the likelihood of a stain increases. This is why it is important to act quickly to help decrease the amount of liquid that can be absorbed.
Steps you can take to prevent stains on your marble or other natural stone after a spill:
- Remove any loose debris.
- Blot spills with a soft cloth that is clean and dry. It is important to blot instead of wiping away, as wiping will only spread the spill.
- Flush the area with plain water and mild soap and rinse several times.
- Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth.
- Repeat as necessary.
If the stain persists or for problems that appear too difficult to treat, call your stone care professional, installer, or restoration specialist. Your stone fabricator will be able to come out and asses the best way to get rid of the stain.
How to Prevent Etching and Scratching on Natural Stone
A material’s likelihood of etching and scratching varies greatly between natural stones as well. The likelihood of scratching depends on how dense the natural stone is. Softer stones, such as onyx and marble are more likely to be affected by etching and scratching, whereas a true quartzite is incredibly dense and will not scratch or etch from common household occurrences. Etching occurs when a highly acidic material, such as red wine or vinegar, comes in contact with natural stone and causes a chemical reaction that can leave a spot carved on the surface. For softer stones especially, clean up spills to avoid etching in the same way you would clean up a spill to avoid a stain as above. The reasoning is similar, the longer the acid is in contact with the stone, the more time the acid has to be absorbed by the stone.
Luckily, there are many things that you probably already do to avoid scratches and etches from occurring.
Steps you can take to maintain your freshly installed stone from scratching and etching:
- Clean all spills right away to avoid staining and etching
- Place coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices.
- Put trivets under hot items right off the stove or directly out of an oven.
- Use place mats under china, ceramics, silver, or other objects that can scratch the stone.
What should I use to clean my natural stone?
- For best results, clean your surfaces with warm water and a few drops of mild detergent or stone soap (with a pH of 7), available at most hardware stores.
- Test your surface in a small, unnoticeable area with any new cleanser to ensure that staining and etching will not occur.
- Be careful not to overdo it with cleaners and soaps, as too much may leave a film or cause streaks.
- Never use products that contain lemon, vinegar, or other acids on marble, onyx, travertine, or limestone.
- Never use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.
- Avoid bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners, or tub & tile cleaners as they often contain acids.
- Never mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so.
Fashion and interior design are both expressions of art that often influence one another. For fashion, retail stores are an important way to introduce new customers and engage loyal customers through an experience that encapsulates the brand. Around the world, many fashion brands and department stores such as Barney’s, Dolce and Gabbana, and Bulgari look to natural stone as a way to keep a space elegant, luxurious, and timeless.
The Proenza Shouler boutique in SoHo features a quiltwork combination of Silver Wave and Calacatta Marble from floor-to-ceiling with a dark grout. The dark industrial metal clothing rods are suspended from the ceiling, and mirrors the geometric rectangular composition of the marble slabs.
The prestigious Barney’s New York Chelsea Flagship store designed by Steven Harris Architects and Rees Roberts + Partners achieved its sophisticated look by experimenting with curved forms in both the architectural composition of the store as well as in the display cases and furnishings. Small leather goods are placed on asymmetrical granite and marble tabletops with reflective brass bases.
Cantilevered marble consoles with a hidden anchored steel base display fine jewelry throughout the department store. Smoked glass mirrors are used to reflect the bold, intriguing shapes, while adding a dramatic flair to the space.
Luxury fashion house Dolce and Gabbana in Ayoama, Tokyo designed by Curiosity, shows how the entrance and signage of a retail store plays a key role in introducing the brand to the public. The vertical wall application of the strategically matched four story Arabescato Corchia Marble is contrasted against black lacquer panels and used inside the storefront window displays. A large Grigio Carnico Marble sign above the entryway with matching diamond bookmatch on the sidewalk, invite customers to experience the store.
Bulgari London. Images courtesy of www.petermarinoarchitect.com.
Inspired by Elizabeth Taylor and her affection for Bulgari jewelry during the filming of Cleopatra, the Bulgari London boutique designed by Peter Marino mixes the grandeur of classical Roman architecture with the glamour of Old Hollywood. Carrara Marble is used throughout the store to create dramatic entryways and a striking staircase.
Aria: How did you get into interior design?
Barbara Gilbert: Interior design gives me the opportunity to use my creativity while fulfilling my client’s dreams. I love to think outside the box and try new designs. Seeing the finished project and the look on the client’s face is such an amazing feeling. I can honestly say that I love what I do!
Aria: What is currently inspiring you in design?
Barbara Gilbert: Mixing things up is always fun. For instance I love to pair old beams or floors, or a family heirloom with contemporary furniture. Clean fresh colors paired with neutral fabrics can stand the test of time. We strive to transform ordinary places into unique inspiring spaces.
Aria: How do you approach stone in your designs?
Barbara Gilbert: I absolutely love natural stone, it never ceases to amaze me that these slabs actually come out of the ground. Having said that I lean towards exotic stones, so my clients have a better chance of having something that is not common and unusually beautiful.
Aria: What inspired this Fusion art piece?
Barbara Gilbert: Our client wanted a wow factor and something different. Every time I come into your stone gallery I would always think “one of these days I’m going to hang a slab as artwork for a client,” luckily, I found the perfect client who allowed me to do so. I wanted a natural organic element rather than a standard piece of art work and the results are stunning!
Aria: What is your advice for some one who is about to start a renovation, or just wants to refresh their home?
Barbara Gilbert: If at all possible, they should hire a designer. A designer will keep them from making costly mistakes. If hiring an interior designer is not an option they should try to duplicate a picture in a magazine or a photo on one of the many online forums.
We can’t get enough of this inspiration featured in Architectural Digest, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s Greenwich Village New Townhouse in New York! This stunning home is on the market and are so pleased to see that Carrie Bradshaw herself also loves a stunning marble feature wall as much as we do.
At only 25 feet wide, the building features a pristine brick façade that was built in 1846. Several updates have been made to the property such as the kitchen which features a bookmatched Calacatta Extra fireplace. The fireplace is a perfect contrast to dark espresso cabinets and countertops, bringing depth and lightness to the room.
Tying the open kitchen to the dinning area, the marble theme is carried throughout the entire space. A large, 6 person marble table overlooks the lush green courtyard with storefront windows providing and illusion of extended living space and a beautiful example of open plan living. Overall, this East 10th home has a clean, warm and earthy feel that is the perfect juxtaposition of historical and modern design aesthetics.