Not surprisingly, Kelly Wearstler’s first-ever presentation at Design Miami/Basel was highly provocative, expressive and elegant. It was revealed in Arca’s Wynwood showroom, in a setting reminiscent of a theatrical stage play, complete with yards of draped curtains and strategically placed mirrors; it also marked the first collaboration between the internationally renowned interior and product designer and the global purveyor of natural stone.
Called Nudo — the Spanish word for knot — Wearstler’s collection of marble furniture pieces upends the expectations of what can be achieved using solid stone as a medium. “Though I’ve worked with marble extensively throughout my career, this project presented a challenge to transform and bend the material to create soft-looking forms,” says Wearstler. Indeed, at first glance one would be forgiven for not realizing that the curvaceous pieces — 16 in all, plus five accessories — were made from marble, as their rounded corners and knotted and ribbed forms emulate a degree of malleability more akin to textiles and upholstered furniture.
“Inspired by the ancient practice of weaving, I wanted the collection to honour the rich history of the craft, all the way down to the basics of its construction,” says Wearstler of the premise behind the pieces, adding, “Nudo is an expression of interconnectedness, a gesture of what binds us together.” From inception to completion, the series took approximately four months and involved a “mash-up of technology and handcraft.” Designs were first created digitally in Wearstler’s West Hollywood studio before being 3D printed, with minor tweaks and refinements made along the way.
Once perfected, they were sent to Arca quarries (in four different countries) to be carved on site from slabs of stone Wearstler had specifically selected for their ample colour and compelling movements — among them, Rosa Valencia, a pale rose with charcoal veining; Blue Calcite, a soothing blue-grey with a mottled surface finish; rich green Verde Tikal; and Rainbow Onyx, defined by swirls of gold, white and brown in varying degrees of translucency.
A finely engineered robotic arm initially sculpted the stones before a local master carver finished them by hand; the designer and her studio received daily photo and video updates that enabled them to oversee any necessary adjustments.
Like her modern-organic capsule collections for the Proper hotel brand — for which Wearstler has also designed the interiors of four locations — the Nudo collection would up the style ante at any avant-garde or bespoke hospitality venue (or private residence, for that matter). “Travellers are all about the experience of where they are — they are living in the moment, outside their normal daily routine. You want to create an experience and visual memory from the arrival to the very last moment,” she says. When first impressions can make or break, these extraordinary pieces would deliver a welcome — and unforgettable — statement.
Kelly Wearstler’s Nudo Collection brings out the softer side of marble.