Best Uses for Marble in Contemporary Architecture

When people think of marble buildings, images come to mind of the ancient world. However, the material is still being used today to create jaw-dropping works of contemporary architecture, and this is happening from Oklahoma to India. Here are some of the best ways that marble has been used to breathe new life into the modern world.

Oslo Opera House

Out of a design competition that yields 350 entries, judges chose the marble design of Snøhetta for the Oslo Opera House. Extensive use of white Italian carrara marble – the same type used to make Michelangelo’s David – combines modern design with the traditional art of opera. A sloping roof allows visitors to walk to the top of the structure and survey the city around them. Overall, the soft white marble rising up out of the ground in strong, angular shapes evokes an iceberg rising above the waves.

Devon Energy Center

At 259-meters, this 50-storey skyscraper currently stands as the tallest building in the state of Oklahoma. Developed by the Devon Energy Corporation, its use of marble might seem a little odd within such a quintessentially modern structure, but its adoption of this material provides a grandiose feel to the building. Perhaps more importantly, it evokes sustainability and solidity while providing a more natural style that has been fittingly accented by wood and stone.

Venus Marble HQ

The Venus Marble Headquarters in Koropi, Greece is a building that you might naturally have expected to be made from marble. However, it’s the design that really stands out. Though strongly inspired by the square, solid pillars of classical architecture, jutting edges and angular shapes give the building a modern edge, as do the strips of glass embedded in deep slits within the beige marble exterior. The material also serves a practical purpose by keeping the building’s interior cool in spite of the hot Greek sun.

Prem Mandir

Located in the northern Indian town of Vrindavan, this stunning spiritual complex dedicated to Shri Krishna represents one of the most extensive and ambitious uses of marble in the modern world. Costing over $23 million to build, it’s carved out of the same carrara marble used by the Oslo Opera House – 30,000 tons of it was imported from Italy. However, what really makes this building unique are its hundreds of intricate carvings. Once more representing a fusion of old and new, these are carved using a combination of experienced artisans and advanced robots.

Best Material for Countertops

The countertop you select for your kitchen will set the tone for the whole room, so choosing the right material is crucial. Not only will the style of your kitchen be affected, you’ll need to take into account the unique properties of every option that you have before you.

Marble remains one of the most popular options thanks to its elegant beauty. It can also be worked much more easily than materials such as granite, so there are more design options to choose from. If you’d like fancy edges or intricate designs, marble will be your go-to kitchen countertop material. It’s also naturally cool, heat resistant, and easy to find in a variety of styles and colours.

However, though quite durable for a softer stone, marble is also quite porous. This means that scratches and stains will be easier to make. Marble reacts particularly poorly to acidic foods; sealing can make a difference, but it won’t stop staining completely. Furthermore, you’ll need to seal on a regular basis, and repairs can be difficult if any cracks occur. Perhaps most importantly, especially considering these drawbacks, marble tends to be one of the more expensive options when you’re considering the best material for kitchen countertops.

Ultimately, marble is best used by people who are prepared to make the added effort needed for maintenance in order to enjoy the material to its fullest. For people who don’t quite think it’s worth the hassle, granite and quartz are available as effective alternatives.

Granite is extremely durable as well as elegant, and it works well with modern, minimalist designs. Not only heat-resistant, it is also remarkably stain-resistant; if you install a granite countertop today, it should look just as good in ten years’ time. Quartz is another great alternative since it doesn’t need to be sealed in order to attain that level of durability. This is widely considered to be the most durable of countertop materials that are currently available, so it should last a lifetime if you deign to treat it properly. Quartz is even a little safer than other options since it takes a long time for bacteria to take hold and thrive upon its service.

Marble, quartz, and granite are all excellent materials to use for kitchen countertops, and adopting them is likely to improve both the style of your kitchen and the value of your home. It only remains up to you to decide which option best fits your needs.

Applications of DEKTON

Dekton is one of the newest construction materials available, but its advantages have already seen it employed across a wide and diverse range of purposes. Exactly replicating the appearance of glass, porcelain, and quartz while enhancing the properties of each, this is a material that boasts the strength, versatility, and longevity demanded across all design and construction jobs. Here are just a few of its applications.

Worktops

Kitchen countertops are incredibly well-suited to Dekton, and this is expected to be one of the most popular areas of initial use. The added workability of Dekton over traditional materials means that one piece can be installed without any cuts or joins, ultimately creating a completely uniform surface.

Beyond styling, Dekton is able to handle everything you could throw at a kitchen worktop. Highly resistant to stains, scratches, heat, and freezing, it can last a lifetime without ever even needing to be treated.

Facades

The façade of a building is more than a way to protect the exterior – the choice made also represents a visual statement about the building itself. Dekton can be used to emulate other premium materials, and it will continue to look impressive over time.

With the ability to resist the effects of anything from UV rays to graffiti, it can handle the rigors of outside use like few other materials. It also boasts outstanding flexural strength and can be used in thinner slabs than traditional options.

Flooring

Dekton’s ability to resist any damage caused by fluctuations in temperature make it an ideal material for either exterior or interior flooring.

Additionally, while glass, porcelain, and quartz surfaces are tough to use for stairs, Dekton fits the bill. The same structural versatility that makes it ideal for facades and countertops also proves vital here, and the high resistance to abrasion means that high-traffic areas won’t see it become worn down as time goes by.

Cladding

Dekton can be clad across both indoor and outdoor walls. Given that there are no limits as to the shape and design of the end product, the material can provide cladding in a number of formats, whether you need one large piece or several different ones to combine together.

Its excellent dimensional stability reduces the need for joints and the resilience to damage and staining that comes as a result of its minimal porosity means that you will have few problems when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.

9 Interior Design Trends of 2016

We’re now sat in the middle of 2016, so it’s a great time to look at what’s happened so far and what trends promise to continue flourishing within the world of design. It’s been an interesting year, so here’s our quick overview of 2016’s top design trends to bring you up to speed.

  1. The Upscale Family Room

The family room is expected to go upmarket for 2016, but without losing its practicality. The so-called ‘Glamily Room’ opts for wipe-clean designer fabrics and hard-wearing materials. The driving force is design-oriented millennial parents, but the trend is catching.

  1. Sheets with Something to Say

White cotton sheets are so yesterday. For 2016, expect intricate patterns and patchworks to adorn the bedroom, plus a lot more colour.

  1. Pendant Popularity

Statement pendants are great for putting a special touch on a room while also making the lighting more intimate. Expect to see them in dining rooms and lounges. Try adding one to your home in place of the old-fashioned chandelier.

  1. Pedestals to Match

Just as chandeliers are being swapped out for pendants, pedestal tables are coming in to replace the larger side table. Use one to bring focus to a photo, sculpture, or plant.

  1. Statement Desks

In 2016, people are seeming to tire of using their laptops on the bed or sofa. Instead, smaller, more stylish desks are becoming the norm. Try perching yours in the corner of your living room and making it part of the overall style.

  1. Traditional Tableware

When it comes to tableware, 2016 is looking backwards instead of forwards. Perhaps it’s a by-product of the foodie revolution; whatever the cause, it’s time to break out your gravy dishes and dig out the ladle.

  1. Metal Mix

Metals are set to harmonize during 2016, with golds, silvers, and coppers all coming together. Try adding a mixed-metal colour table cloth or curtains to see if the trend catches on in your house.

  1. Fabric on the Wall

Perhaps it’s the cosiness that comes with hanging fabrics as opposed to more traditional pieces of artwork, but textiles are becoming increasingly popular for adorning our walls.

  1. Reinvention

From blending metals to bringing back old tableware and desks, 2016 is all about taking the old and making it into something new. With that in mind, try repurposing old pieces of furniture with a few licks of vibrant paint to turn something dull into something eye-catching.

5 Items You Wouldn’t Expect to be Made from Marble

From laptop skins to Chinese boats, here’s our top five things you wouldn’t expect to be made out of marble.

Here at Paramount Marble, we’re fortunate enough to be able to dedicate ourselves to finely crafted marble during every day of work, so we’re always intrigued by innovative modern uses of the material. Though traditionally used for kitchen worktops and fireplaces, the subtle and evocative beauty of marble means that it has been applied across numerous interesting projects.

Here are just 5 of our favourite.

  1. A Wi-Fi Router Cover

Few items sitting on display in your home will have become quite as ubiquitous as the Wi-Fi router. It would only be a decade or so ago that these new pieces of technology would rarely be seen, but now you’d be hard-pressed to find a home without one. If you want to apply classical styling to advanced technology, try the APOLLO marble router case by Claudio Larcher.

  1. A Phone Cover

Phone covers have formed into one of the many ways in which modern consumers broadcast their personalities to the world. Marble remains a symbol of first-class taste and high-end luxury, so it should come as no surprise to learn that there are a range of marble smartphone cases on offer.

  1. A Chinese Boat

Head to the Beijing Summer Palace and you’ll find a whole boat made from marble. It is inlaid with coloured glass windows and wheels, paved with coloured bricks, and fits huge mirrors across each deck to ensure that you can enjoy the exquisite lake scene while sipping tea. The whole structure is 36 meters long and two stories, eight meters high.

  1. Modern Art

The marble statues of antiquity are the most enduring and strikingly beautiful examples of the type of art that can be sculpted out of marble, but artists like Alex Seton are bringing the material back to the artistic cutting-edge. Seton leverages his unparalleled craftsmanship to refine marble into unexpected forms, including hoodies, national flags, and blankets. They look indistinguishable from the real thing, until you try to lift them up, and provide literal weight to pressing present-day issues.

  1. Laptop Skins

Laptops have become one of the central hubs of our lives. We work on them; we play on them; we communicate on them. As with phone covers, you can complement your laptop with a marble-like skin, which will have been laser cut to ensure a perfect fit.

Dekton Factory Visit – Spain

Andy and Paul visited Cosentino’s headquarters in Spain this month. They are the largest manufacturers of quartz surfaces in the world. Andy and Paul saw the production of the revolutionary material Dekton in its factory which is nearly 1 million square metres and has a fully automated logistics platform. Dekton has the highest resistance to heat and scratching of any surface on the market and due to its zero porosity is completely stain proof. Please find attached images of the factory and also images of the new X Gloss colours which have an ultrashine finish. The grey, black and white are available now and the rest of the colours will be available in the near future. These pictures want to be on social media.

A product range that we need adding to the website is Cosentino’s Sensa range. This needs to appear under Worktops – Granite options and then Sensa by Cosentino. You will need to create an introductory page explaining the product and then add the colour range from the files in the Dropbox. Underneath is some information you could include in the introduction to the product.

It is the only one of their materials that is manufactured outside of its Spain headquarters in Brazil. The stone is sourced from quarries in Brazil and India and is treated with their unique sealant which is allowed to soak 5mm into the stone. This allows them to be the only granite supplier to offer a 15 year certified warranty against staining with no maintenance required. Due to the granite being a natural material each slab is different but offers individual veining and markings throughout.

Redecorating your kitchen

When thinking about redecorating a kitchen, there is more to it than changing the wallpaper or a lick of paint. Cupboards, worktops and appliances are not simple to replace regularly. By opting for a design that is elegant and of good quality, your kitchen will stand the test of time. Maximise space with clever storage, hidden appliances and corner cupboards.

A blend of natural colours and textures seamlessly compliment each other. Marble and granite are naturally engrained with a broad colour palette; wooden cupboards in their natural state, or painted, are enhanced by a multi-tonal worktop. A splashback adds elegance to the overall look, and draws attention to the focal point of the kitchen, the cooker. A marble or granite border ties it all together, leaving the wall space above for areas of colour or lighting features. Natural materials stand the test of time both for practicality and effortless style.

The quality of the design will speak for itself; complete the space with small, quirky details that add vibrancy. Detailed faucets, splashes of stainless steel or chrome, or a vintage ceramic kitchen sink set an individualistic tone. Lighting can be a useful tool for drawing attention to these finer details. Lighting under floating cupboards or on skirting boards can give the illusion of extra space by eliminating dark areas. For a bold feature, statement walls harmonise with a neutral palette, and can be easily updated with a mixture of textures or styles. Accessories and textiles can be regularly updated to add a modern touch to a classic kitchen; a luxe fabric adds a designer feel to a simple space.

Do not let the function of a kitchen mark the fact that it is the heart of the home. Whether you want a cosy heaven, a calming space or somewhere to accommodate a busy lifestyle, your kitchen should ultimately reflect who you are. Simplicity, elegance and quality will ensure that no matter how you modernise your space with accessories or textiles, your kitchen will remain a reflection of you.

Guide to marble countertops

When it comes to selecting kitchen countertops, classic white marble remains the top choice for many home owners. It’s no surprise—the surface has been attracting fans for millennia. “It’s a natural material with great variety, depending on which species you select and how it’s cut,” says AD100 architect S. Russell Groves. “It creates a really lovely natural pattern, which you don’t get with a lot of artificial materials.”
“You won’t find anything as white in nature as white marble,” adds Evan Nussbaum, a vice president at Stone Source in New York. “You just don’t get that color and kind of figuring in any other type of natural stone.”

But it’s not a perfect product. While good-quality marbles, such as the world-famous products from Carrara, Italy, are dense and relatively nonporous—which makes them durable and stain-resistant—they also have weaknesses. A nonfoliated metamorphic rock, marble is generally composed of calcium carbonate (the same ingredient used in antacids such as Tums) or magnesium carbonate, which react to acids. An acidic kitchen liquid like lemon juice or vinegar will etch marble, leaving a dull, whitish mark where it has slightly eaten away the surface, even after the marble has been sealed. But as long as you choose carefully, know what to expect, and care for marble countertops, they can be a beautiful, functional choice that lasts a lifetime.

Although many people automatically think of creamy, white stone when they think of marble, “there are hundreds of varieties,” says Jason Cherrington, founder and managing director of the U.K.-based stone company Lapicida, including types that are taupe, green, gold, red, and black. For kitchen countertops, however, Nussbaum generally recommends sticking with white. Because acid etching leaves a whitish mark, it is much more noticeable on colored marble than on white marble. “We put a thousand caveats on any dark marble or nonwhite marble being used for kitchen countertops,” he says, “but it’s a personal choice.”
While classic Italian white marbles like Calacatta and Statuario are generally excellent quality, Nussbaum points out that equally high-quality marbles are available closer to home, including Vermont Danby and Colorado Yule.
Selecting slabs
Every stone slab is slightly different, so it’s ideal to select the exact pieces of stone that will be used for your countertops. “There’s an art to marble—selecting the slabs and understanding where the veining is going to be located on the countertop,” says Groves. “You want to artfully place the markings so that it’s almost like a painting.”
At the same time, it’s important to consider how different pieces come together. “The longer the piece you can get without any seams, the better,” says Groves. “If you do have seams, it’s always nice to book-match the marble,” so adjacent pieces have a mirrored appearance.

Veining

Every quarry is different, but it’s possible to cut certain types of marble blocks two different ways to achieve unique veining patterns. Cross cut, or fleuri cut, results in stone slabs with “an open flowered pattern,” says Nussbaum, which looks fairly random and is ideal for book-matching. Vein cut, or striato, slices the block the other way to achieve a linear, striped appearance.

“Designers have used both cuts to create some fantastic looks,” says Cherrington. “They may use vein cut on the wall and cross cut on the floor.”

 

Finish

“The whole stone industry has been going through a massive wave of technology, and it’s transforming the product,” says Cherrington, noting that there are now more ways than ever to finish stone, including different brushing and polishing techniques. An orange-peel-like texture is possible, he notes, which “might be called a leather, brushed, or river-wash finish.”

But the most popular choices remain polished, which looks glossy, or honed, which appears matte. For homeowners concerned about acid etching, Nussbaum recommends a honed finish. “On a polished finish, etching is going to turn it dull and be more visible,” he says. “With honed, you’re dulling an already dull finish, so it disguises it.”

 

Details

Besides its natural beauty, there’s a reason marble has historically been so popular for sculpture: It’s easy to work with tools. Add modern computer numerical control (CNC) milling machines to the equation and almost anything’s possible.

There are countless edge profiles to choose from, but Groves prefers a simple eased edge, which takes the sharpness off a straight 90-degree corner. Cherrington points out that a bull’s nose, which has the profile of a half circle, is also a timeless favorite and functional winner. “Hard stones like marble are brittle, so if you hit a 90-degree corner with something hard, it will chip,” he says. “With a curve, it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to chip.”

To give thin ¾-inch stone the look of a thicker slab, Groves says it’s possible to use a miter joint at the edge of the countertop to add a thicker face with an almost seamless appearance. “You can build up a really nice thick-looking piece without having to use a thick slab,” he says.

It’s even possible to engrave the edge of a marble countertop with a pattern of your choosing, says Cherrington, noting that Lapicida has developed marble tables featuring a carved brogue pattern on the edge in collaboration with designer Bethan Gray.

 

Maintenance

Finishing marble countertops with a penetrating sealer is essential for long-term performance, says Nussbaum, “but not a magic bullet.” Acids will still etch the surface. Fortunately, if the countertop has a honed finish, an etched mark can usually be removed by scrubbing with a Comet paste using a Scotch-Brite pad, he says. If it’s a polished surface, it will require different abrasives and technical skill, which might best be left to a professional. If the marble does get a stain, it can often be removed with an alkaline poultice that gradually pulls the offending material out of the stone as it dries. But any of these interventions will also strip the sealer, he notes, so it needs to be reapplied after the repair.

“The good thing about marble is that you can always sand it down or polish it again,” says Groves. “With a lot of other materials, once you damage it, you can’t do that.”

However, the best way to live with marble countertops may simply be to accept that they will patina over time. “If you’ve been to an old bakery or pizza shop and seen how white marble patinas, and like it,” says Nussbaum, “then it could be the perfect material for you.”

Caring for a stone worktop

If you have invested in a natural stone worktop then you owe it to yourself to take care of it. A stone worktop is a serious investment and you want it to look as good in years to come as it does right now. For that to happen, you need to treat it well, so here is a simple guide to taking care of your worktop.

Caring for quartz

Quartz is the easiest stone to take care of, thanks to its low-absorbent surface material, but like any form of stone it has its own requirements. First of all, don’t put hot pans on it for any length of time and you should really use a heat resistant pad or a trivet to keep pans off the surface. That’s because the resin can melt and pans can easily leave an impression on the surface.

Quartz can also be damaged by strong solvents such as chlorides, triclorethane, paint, permanent inks, nail polish removers and even bleach can damage a quartz worktop. So don’t get too aggressive with the cleaning products.

In fact to clean quartz, a damp cloth will usually do the job and for serious sticky spots you can use a general cleaning solvent. Washing up liquid is normally sufficient, but for extremely stubborn spots you can opt for a non-metallic scouring pad or a steam cleaner.

You can use a blade or putty knife to remove dried on stains, but it’s better to simply deal with problems as they arise and prevent them from leaving serious marks.

Try to avoid serious impacts on the surface, too, as quartz is essentially a powder held together by resin and it can chip or fracture.

Caring for Granite and Marble

Granite and marble are, naturally, exceptionally hard and resilient surfaces that will withstand a good deal of mistreatment. Considering the investment you have made in your worktop, though, it is better not to mistreat it at all.

To clean general marks you can simply use a sponge and washing up liquid, but the trick to maintaining the shine is to dry it properly and to treat it like glass. That does not mean you should clean it with vinegar, though, as the acid can attack the surface and dull your surface. The same goes for lemon juice, wine and even the likes of nail polish remover. Keep them away from your surfaces.

Do not use abrasive cleaners, either. That goes for the cleaning fluids themselves and the pads you might use to clean a worktop. These can leave a permanent impression on the sealant that is used on most granite worktops and kill the shine altogether.

If you encounter a strong dried on stain then you can use fine, 000-grade steel wool, but there are better options. Soapy water and a little elbow grease will break down most dried on strains and a steam mop is another option that will remove almost any stain without opting for the abrasive extensions.

While a granite and marble worktop is resilient to hot pans, it’s still not a good idea to repetitively put hot pans on the same spot. This is the way it works in a kitchen, though, so you would be well-advised to use a heat resistant plate or trivet in any case.

Do not chop food on the granite worktop, too. Technically it works, but the granite can scratch and you will blunt your knives. Even china can scratch the granite if you drag plates across the surface, so be careful.

Choosing a high end worktop. Decisions, Decisions…

If you’ve opted for a high end kitchen then you can find yourself agonising over the little things, because this kitchen could be with you for many years and it is important to get it right. The worktop, too, is not a little thing. So what do you go for? Granite? Marble? Quartz? They are all stunning in their own right and they are all very different, so if you’re unsure then read on.

Granite

This natural stone has become the default choice for high end kitchens in recent years, thanks to its organic look, ease of maintenance and the fact that it is so durable. When you opt for granite you know that you’re choosing a substance that resulted from a volcanic explosion, sometimes hundreds of thousands of years ago. It will probably survive if you drop a plate on it.

There are all sorts of granite and all manner of different colourations that can give your kitchen an organic and natural character to go with all the clean, white surfaces. You can find granite with great swirls of colour or glitter-like specks of metal running through it that elegantly reflect your downlighters. There are often imperfections in a granite worktop, but they form part of the charm.

Granite is perfectly resistant to hot and cold, so it’s a great option for a worktop, but it can stain. It’s a porous rock, so light granite especially should be treated and there is still a chance that it can absorb the colours of the kitchen’s daily life. Some people like this, others rigorously clean their surfaces to keep them looking pristine.

With darker granite, you shouldn’t have to do anything more taxing than wiping them down with a cloth.

Quartz

Some people prefer the man-made alternative to granite. Quartz contains 93% natural minerals as a rule, bound with resin and colorants to create a more uniform structure that is free from all imperfections, unless they’re engineered in.

Unlike granite, quartz offers a near infinite choice of colours that allows you to totally personalise your kitchen and you can even get it in pure white, while there is no absolutely pure white natural stone.

This man-made alternative is also kinder to the environment, as the carbon footprint associated with a granite worktop is substantially higher in terms of mining the granite, transporting it and cutting it to shape.

As far as daily use goes, there are very few differences. Quartz is exceptionally strong and advances in technology mean it is durable. It is not 100% heat resistant, though, and there is a risk of cracking, however slight, and it can mark if you leave a searing hot pan on it for any length of time thanks to the resin melting. On the plus side it is non-porous and so is more hygienic than granite.

Maintain it and keep hot pans away from it, though, and quartz will maintain its perfect look for decades.

Marble

The other natural stone in this selection, marble is well loved and has been used in kitchens and bathrooms for hundreds of years. Ask any baker and they’ll tell you that marble is the only surface they’ll work on, but it comes with caveats.

Natural marble is a wondrous thing to look at, thanks to its deep veins and vibrant colours that range from pink to green. MichaelAngelo used marble to sculpt with for a reason, it is just that elegant.

It is also soft, though, as rock goes, and much more porous than granite. That means a marble worktop will show signs of abuse much more readily. If your kitchen earns its keep, then you might want to think about granite instead as marble does scratch and will stain, even when you spill red wine, fruit juice or oil on it.

Marble must be lovingly maintained and cared for, to the extent that you use coasters and protective mats when preparing food. For some it’s a price worth paying, others choose to opt for a more forgiving surface.

So that’s an introduction to the high end worktops you can choose from and some helpful pointers that might swing your decision.