Tried-and-true Carrara, Cipollino and Pietra Grey are mainstays of high-end interiors, with good reason: marble’s impact lies in its purity, and tubs carved from a single block and walls clad in whole slabs make for dramatic focal points. Lately, designers have coaxed out the substantial material’s more playful aspects. Young firms – Italy’s Studio Lievito, New York’s Fort Standard and the Netherlands’ Earnest Studio – use these neutral-toned marbles in home accessories, lending a sense of luxury to everyday objects.
When it comes to finding new possibilities in these exclusive stone species, however, Zaha Hadid is without rival. The architect has collaborated with Italy’s Citco on a series of surfaces that range from the organic (a wall of rippling waves) to the geometric (a swarm of stepped polygons). The pieces look digitally rendered but are actually hand carved, though in a way that makes the stone look voluptuous and energetic.
Marble may be the first choice when it comes to exquisite finishes, but other stone slabs – as well as engineered varieties – also serve up rich neutrals. Quartzite, slate and soapstone come with interesting surface imperfections and palettes worthy of a closer look.