The BSBG blog was accompanied by Senior Interior Designer, Alia Soufan, as we attended Middle East Stone, an international stone and marble show held over three days at Dubai World Trade Centre. Within the exhibition, representatives from some of the most exclusive stone quarries across Europe and the rest of the world showcased their products; with many beautiful examples of marble, onyx, granite, limestone and quartz on display from Greece, Turkey, Italy, China, and even as far away as Brazil.Brazilian Backlit White Quartzite Translucent – the blue effect is created by the injection of resin into the veins of the stone
Alia met with many of the manufacturers and quarry owners, and was particularly taken by the Brazilian onyx, slate from South Africa (which has quarry reserves set to last for more than 40,000 years apparently), and a German/Italian black quartz. “Events such as this are important for interior designers to attend,” Alia told us. “It’s very inspiring to see some of the exclusive stone that’s been brought to the UAE especially for this exhibition. Stone is as important in contemporary interior design as it ever has been, and the quality of these products shows the level of finishes that are made possible by investing in authentic, high quality products.”Authentic stone imports sourced from the world’s most reputable stone extracting countries bring benefits that extend beyond mere aesthetic charm. The value of investment in traditional stone rather than cheaper commercial variations can also be found in its hard-wearing sustainability and longevity. As we walk around the exhibition, Alia explains that she hopes this exhibition will heighten awareness in the UAE that, although the short term financial outlay for high quality marble and stone may initially be more, over the longer term, with less maintenance, fixing and tile replacements required, there is great value in selecting high grade rather than cheaper lower grade or artificial stone. “An authentic marble will last for centuries,” Alia says. “While the artificial or commercial versions do have their place, particularly on projects where budgetary concerns take prevalence, there’s no substitute for genuine stone. It has authenticity, and also flexibility in terms of application and appearance.”
Marble and stone are most readily associated with use in wall coverings and floorings, but there are many other applications, some of which were demonstrated at the exhibition. “This quartz kitchen island is a great example of innovative premium stone application,” Alia explains. “They use a process called ‘vacuum vibrocompression’ to manufacture this stone, and this makes it hugely versatile. Here we see this beautiful kitchen unit, but this stone can also be used in baths, lamps, reception counters, coffee tables and other design objects.”
Another great example of a stone that has a variety of applications and finishes is the ever-versatile Gris Pulpis. This revered Spanish marble is extracted from only a couple of quarries around Santa Magdalena de Pulpis. It’s a hard marble, with a well-defined vein, and a good uniformity. Its variation comes mainly in terms of the depth of the brown tonality, and the stone works well when used for all kinds of wall coverings, flooring and for decorative interior purposes. It is also great to customise with different finishings for tiles, as shown below.
“Book-matched marble is almost a piece of art in itself, and certainly makes a statement,” Alia states. “Here you can see they have used four identical slabs and positioned them symmetrically, almost like an open book. This is a favourite for interior designers, and really showcases the natural beauty of the stone. Book-matched stone is often found in feature flooring and wall coverings, but can also be used as a striking abstract character element within a design. It’s best displayed on large slabs to fully appreciate the effect.”
One of the great characteristics of stone is the potential for unique customisation that each piece represents. The variety of tools and techniques used to customise slabs was demonstrated at the exhibition, which included polishing, cutting and grinding. Alia tells us: “I love the way stone can be completely modernised or changed to bring out different textures or 3D elements. By using some of these tools, the whole look and feel of a piece of stone can be completely personalised to meet the design intention or direction within a certain space. Having this kind of technology available to tailor the appearance and texture of a given piece of stone means there are really no limits to the variations available.”
As a result of attending the exhibition, Alia has arranged for some of the standout exhibitors to visit BSBG’s offices and present to the Interior Design studio. BSBG is committed to sourcing the highest quality stone for our interior design projects, with a recent example of this being on the Bluewaters Island Residential development. White Pergon Marble was sourced from an exclusive quarry in Greece specifically for interior applications.
Middle East Stone is an annual exhibition held at Dubai World Trade Centre, attended by many exhibitors from some of the most productive and innovative stone manufacturers in the world, you can find out more here.