Italian marble artisan Roberto Martelli of StoneLab talks shop


In with the New

By Rachel Miller

There's so much happening with marble these days—so many exciting new designs sporting intricately carved forms. It's got us thinking: How do they do that?

To get some insight we reached out to Roberto Martelli, who happens to come from a family of marble artisans and who recently launched the brand StoneLab in collaboration with other Bologna-based marble enthusiasts, Daniele Martelli, Daniele Orsi, and Massimo and Andrea Schiassi. Together they look for new ways to exploit the unique beauty of marble through the careful craftsmanship of highly skilled Italian artisans and the innovative thinking of Italian designers.

 

Rachel Miller: Tell us a little about yourselves. What are your backgrounds, and how did you meet? 

Roberto Martelli: Our company was born through the collaboration of two historical, Bologna-based companies: Martelli Marmi, specialized in marble furniture, and Marmoforniture, specialized in marble objects. By bringing these two companies together, we were able to expand and modernize our catalogue and strengthen our knowledge of marble production, updating the entire process from start to finish.

Wine Glass in white Carrara marble from StoneLab Design Photo © StoneLab Design Rachel: Walk us through your design and production processes.

Roberto: Once the idea of an object has been created, either by us or by the designers we work with, we identify the materials that we intend to use and then we start creating prototypes. In most cases, several tests must be performed before obtaining the desired result.

Rachel: What part of the process most excites you?

Roberto: We are thrilled to see the results of our work and, above all, to hear the compliments from our customers. We love to see their amazement and appreciation for the skill that goes into our products—such as our Marble Wine Glass (2017). Seeing the work online versus holding it in your hands are two very different experiences. Our pictures don’t do our products justice!

Rachel: I can believe that! At the office, we loved unwrapping pieces from your newest STONELAND Collection, particularly because the delicacy contrasts so beautifully with the weight and depth of the marble. Tell us a little about your new collection. How does it differ from your first collection?

StoneLab Design's 2018 STONELAND collection Photo © StoneLab Design Roberto:  The biggest difference between the two collections is color. Our first collection in 2017 featured various pieces made from white and black Carrara marble—such as our Aleph S Table Lamp by Dario Martinelli and our Big Smash Table Lamp. Our latest STONELAND Collection from 2018 was created in collaboration with Art Director Tagmi Design Studio, who identified a rich palette of brightly hued, rare and precious marbles, such as Rosa Del Portogallo, Verde Guatemala, Arabescato, Rosso Levanto, and Nero antique marble. We have also added eloquent brass accents to each piece that were made in collaboration with the historic Milanese company Argenteria Ganci.

Rachel: What was the inspiration behind the new collection?

Roberto: The collection was inspired by the form and movement of the tools we use to shape the marble. Everyday tools like nails, tubes, and pulleys pierce and carve the material; ultimately becoming structural or complementary elements that embellish the pieces in the collection.

Rachel: How does Italian history and culture help to shape your designs?

Roberto: Wherever you look in Italy, there are beautiful works of art cast in marble. From these, we draw inspiration for some of the objects in our collections. We are especially inspired by the classic lines found in Italian masterpieces.

Rachel: What is next for StoneLab Design?

Roberto: Currently, we are working on new lighting and furnishing designs that pair marble with other materials like wood, glass, and ceramics. Our next steps are also oriented towards the production of highly customized objects in collaboration with several important companies in the furniture industry that will market them in their own name. This is very stimulating for us and encourages us to always study new production solutions.

 

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    • Rachel Miller

      Rachel Miller

      Rachel is a California native whose passion for travel has led her on some pretty crazy adventures around the world. After living in Korea for three years, she decided on a whim to move to Germany. While she still has a wandering soul, Berlin has captured her heart, and she's decided to make this multicultural hub her permanent home. Most of her free time is spent playing beach volleyball, exploring the city's many arty scenes, and hunting down Berlin's best craft beer.