Marble looks to the future

On the occasion of the 2021 edition of Marmomac, scheduled from 29 September to 2 October in Verona, we met architect Simone Soardo to find out about cutting-edge technologies and processes.

September is an important month for trade fairs in the furnishing and design sector, but not only. In the last year, amidst cancellations and postponements, trade fairs and cultural events held online, created different formats to compensate for the lack of physical contact. Immediately after the summer break, events dedicated to networking and business will return to mark the calendar of professionals, as in the case of Marmomac, the main international exhibition for the stone sector, scheduled from 29 September to 2 October in Verona.

This edition will be held at Veronafiere and will have as its leitmotif the theme of "time" as a reflection on the symbolic and intrinsic value of this element. "The great value of marble is its uniqueness: each slab of the same block is different and has its own aesthetic features," explains Simone Soardo, an architect with long-standing experience in creating projects that employ marble as the main material. “This is certainly one of the great advantages of this material, but there are some critical aspects. Two slabs may look identical at first glance, but one of them may be more fragile and could break all of a sudden, without giving any warning. In that case restoring it can be very complex, especially if the marble element had open stains and veins of continuity”.

Technology, which has made great strides in recent years, plays a fundamental role and helps designers to implement performance. Hence marble, commonly seen as a heavy element, is becoming thinner and thinner, becoming more ductile and innovative. “I have had the opportunity to experiment with the use of marble applied to other supports that give the stone better technical and structural qualities. For example, by creating a sandwich consisting of one centimetre of marble and one centimetre of Honeycomb, which makes it possible to halve the weight of the product. Eight millimetres of crystal and eight millimetres of marble can create a slab that can be used for backlit surfaces, for example”, says Soardo, “and even carbon and resins, with which it is imbued to provide it greater elasticity. The future of marble is made of nanocomponents and nanotechnologies that fill in the limestone and porous spaces to give continuity to the material and extend its durability. In addition, new quarries are being discovered every year. Carrara marble, onyx and black granite from Brazil are still the classics, but the conquest of new materials means that designers have to deal with up-to-date colours and vein mixes, which is really stimulating”.

The possibilities, therefore, widen with the uses: today marble is no longer only used for imposing and majestic creations, but also for sophisticated projects such as eyeglasses and sunglasses. “In 2017, I followed the project for the cladding of Fondazione Prada in Milan”, Soardo says. “The open-pore white travertine chosen by Rem Koolhaas is certainly not the most suitable material for a public place, it's a bit like using a white cashmere carpet in a garage. Our job was to ensure that the stone was clean: together with an Italian chemical company we managed to make sure that the cladding was easy to clean. The result is something unique: the stone has an almost soft effect”.

And if the future of marble holds new challenges and applications, the automotive market is also becoming attractive. “Several Italian car manufacturers are currently interested in inserting marble elements such as the dashboard or around the gear lever. In this case we are working individually with each customer to ensure a high standard, between reduced thicknesses and material resistance, even in the event of an accident. This is one of the many challenges that await the world of marble.

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