In their coverage of Salone del Mobile 2018, Monocle discussed essential materials, particularly marble and its everlasting ability to silence a room. From Arabescato to Calacatta to Carrara, marble has been part of the Italian design vernacular since the days of ancient Rome. For Knoll, the process begins at a marble factory near Foligno, central Italy where stone from various quarries in the country arrive in large rectangular slabs. From there a product-quality manager selects the best pieces of marbles – ones with an even pattern and a good mixture of stone and minerals. Once the shapes of the table tops are drawn onto the marble, cutting and refinement begin.
As Monocle puts it, “If there is one piece of modern furniture that best highlights the stone’s inherent design qualities it might be Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Table…Marble served this ambition in fine fashion: weighty, tactile and long lasting, with aesthetic virtues that express artistic pedigree.” While a longstanding classic for Knoll, the brand’s marble range includes other iconic designs by Piero Lissoni, Marcel Breuer, Marc Krusin, and Florence Knoll. This year, as part of the brand’s celebration of its 80th anniversary, Saarinen Side Tables, Grasshopper Tables, and Laccio Side and Coffee Tables are all offered with a new marble finish: Rosso Rubino – a finish that resembles “the surface of Mars in a particularly vicious storm.”
Stringent rules and standards set by Knoll and limited time - mountain quarries are closed from autumn to spring - the challenges are plentiful, and yet there is nothing quite like a cold-to-the-touch, mesmerizing sheet of marble. Monocle writes, “Great art requires great sacrifice and a Knoll table is no exception.”
On the sustainability of the marble industry, Demetrio Apollini, President of Knoll Europe, believes it comes down to using marble, “responsibly for ideas that merit the medium, rather than haphazardly applying it to any purpose.” Monocle concluded and responded saying, “And if we share Saarinen’s vision – that his table is a descendant of the Parthenon or the statues of Bernini – then can there be a more fitting ode to this noble stone?”