Natural stone has always been appreciated for its intrinsic beauty – especially marble, which is available in various colours due to the variety of minerals present in it: like clay, sand, and silt. It is widely utilised as a building material, in monuments and sculptures, and in numerous other applications. Now, marble and stone finishes are being used in interiors to add a new dimension. The latest technologies have elevated the number of ways in which designers can create and apply shapes using marble.
Gaurav Agrawal, chairman & managing director, Stonex India Pvt Ltd, elaborates on the innovative ways to use natural stone in interiors and exteriors: “The beauty and earthiness of natural stone is eternal. Architects across the world use natural stone in varied applications and most commonly for bathrooms, kitchens, exterior walls and fireplaces,” he observes. “One can also use metal as well as wood furniture on natural stones with rough finishes, as it takes away the worry of the stone getting scratched.”
There are myriad choices available in the market. A-Class Marble, which has one of India’s largest marble showrooms in Kishangarh, Rajasthan, alone has more than 450 varieties of marble, stone, granite and other architectural surfaces. Their two new collections – Signature and Pristine – consisting of ornate and exquisite marbles such as Statuario, Bronze Armani, Macchia Vecchia, Statuario Toh, Panda White and Volakas are ideal for walls and backdrops in bedrooms.

Elba from KalingaStone unfurls its beauty on the floor and wall.

While consumers are now ready to try stone on interior walls and as furniture, there are some factors to be kept in mind before doing so. Amit Shah, managing director, Classic Marble Company (CMC), lists the advantages of natural stones. “Natural stones are known for rich, pure unadulterated designs. In case of natural marble, the design of a particular slab can be actually realised in its biggest format. The colours and patterns in most natural marble are best visualised on a big canvas, and its beauty is really pronounced on that scale,” says Shah.
So, other than for conventional applications, CMC recommends natural marble for wall cladding applications that permit it to be installed over an entire or at least 80% of the wall surface – after ensuring appropriate measures. “If marble is being considered for installation in vertical applications like wall clads or as partitions, then it is important to ensure that the thickness of the marble lends enough support to carry its own weight,” states Shah.
“The size of the marble should be in proportion to its thickness – or else, there is a chance that the slab may crack or break with the slightest external impact.” The best thing, he says, is to consult an architect while using marble for such applications. CMC offers both natural and engineered marble for wall cladding and other similar applications. In the case of natural marble, the sizes are usually standard for wall applications. However, in engineered marble, CMC offers customisation in sizes and thicknesses for the chosen marble slab to be adapted to the required application.
Besides marble, there are other dazzling stones like the travertine, onyx and granite that can be installed in smaller décor applications in both interior and exterior applications. Stones can be etched, carved, cut and given contours with precision for suitable application areas. Even the traditional methods of working on stones allow them to be experimented with, but it requires skilled artisans to do the job without damaging. Today, it is a lot simpler with technological aid.
The best part is that, before executing a design, architects and designers also have the advantage of showcasing their designs in virtual representations – which offer clients a fair idea before experimenting in the physical realm.
Stonex India’s semi-precious natural stones are a perfect example of how nature’s beauty and man’s highly skilled craftsmanship are able to produce true works of art. Each semi-precious slab is truly a work of art, rather than just a surface area. Stonex India offers many striking semi-precious colour options. The semi-precious stone tiles by Stonex India can be used for a backlit set-up next to a swimming pool, as a backdrop for vanity mirrors, or for a single dining room wall. A wall done up in semi-precious natural stones catches daylight perfectly and, with a backlit solution, it becomes a luminescent source of light in the evening.

Stonex India’s wide and vibrant range can be used to create stunnlng functional elements within an interior.

Maintenance of stone/marble walls
In case marble is used in applications for wall cladding, where the marble does not come in contact with external elements, gentle swabbing with a soft, wet cloth is sufficient. Explains Shah, “Natural marble is relatively porous. The maintenance for marble across all types of applications is more or less the same. In fact, the maintenance in flooring, which is mostly cleaning its surface, needs to be done more frequently since it is in constant contact with users. If installed as table top, one has to ensure that any spills are immediately wiped off before the stain penetrates and becomes stubborn.” Since marble is used for decorative purposes like columns, bathtubs, windows sills, Agrawal advises avoiding acidic or harsh products and cleaning regularly with mild agents.

Natural stone v/s engineered stone
Both materials have distinct qualities, the most fundamental difference being the origin. Being a manufactured product, engineered marble is less porous and sturdier compared to natural marble. In addition, in case of any damage to the installed surface, engineered stone can be reproduced with the same colour and designs that can’t be done with natural marble. Agrawal elucidates, “Engineered stone looks like natural stone and possesses benefits not available with natural stone. Engineered stones are resistant to scratches, easy to clean, don’t stain easily, and come in a variety of colours to match your needs. These stones cannot be re-polished.” However, while engineered marble successfully replicates almost every design and offers consistency, there is an element of uniqueness and indescribable beauty in the natural product. “There are no inherent disadvantages. It’s purely a matter of choice and function,” believes Shah.
CMC’s natural marble collection, especially the coveted 9th Avenue range, consists of some of the rarest designs on earth. The colours and patterns in this natural collection are unparalleled by any other and the marble installations reflect a sense of opulence. On the other hand, KalingaStone, which is the company’s engineered marble brand, is inspired by the designs in natural marble. However, its products offer consistency and customisation in colours and patterns – which is the biggest limitation in natural marble. Other than this, the products are manufactured in dimensions that are convenient to install in all conventional applications.
Whether it’s the unpredictable beauty of the natural product or the consistency and ease of the maintenance of the man-made version, stone brings indescribable elegance to an interior. It has been a popular choice for buildings of yore, and will continue to be so for spaces to come.

Author : By Aruna Rathod

Consumers are ready for innovative ideas in marble and stone, to enhance built spaces

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