After years of dwelling in the shadow of other desired materials, marble has made a stellar comeback and captured the imagination of designers and consumers alike. Indeed, marble features a distinctive look and adds a ton of character to the space. It summons a spellbinding visual bliss, full of subtle shade variations and eye-catching, whirling patterns. These properties, though, are the result of centuries and centuries of natural fine-tuning, and they do not just come on our whim.
Running into a stone wall
There is a multitude of ways to implement marble in interior design, and it is most seen in vanities, flooring, tub decks, shower walls, etc. The downside of marble is that it is rather “soft” compared to other materials like granite. It is relatively easy to stain or damage. Thus, marble is best utilized for surfaces that are not overly used.
For the best aesthetic results, it is preferable that all marble tiles come from the same original batch. That, alas, is becoming harder and harder to achieve. This brings us to the point that a much bigger problem than the maintenance is the growing scarcity of marble. Namely, when it comes to materials like stone, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature.
As a metamorphosed limestone, marble is pretty common, and although it is actually self-replenishing, it takes millions of years for this process to occur. And as you may know, high-end marble is already an expensive solution. Beloved marbles in pure whites are quite rare and premium price tags are attached to its large slabs.
Many quarries have been already depleted and we have to look elsewhere for new deposits. Of course, for this, we have to thank an increased demand for natural stone in the market. Now the quarries have to be dug deeper in order to satisfy the demand, and certain types of marble, such as Cararra, found only in specific spots in the world, are expected to vanish first.
Block by block
Speaking of Cararra, it is a telling example of how scarce, rare, and valuable marble is. It has been mined for 2,000 in the hills near Tuscany and was used for building incredible buildings, such as the Pantheon and Cathedral in Florence. First uses of this outstanding marble predate the mighty Roman Empire and are associated with the Etruscan period.
Nowadays, the global luxury goods industry is doing just fine as the world economy struggles to attain growth. Wealthy people across the globe are buying marble for their fireplaces and kitchen worktops, even for decorating rooms, walls, and floors. As a result, the prices rise 7% annually, reaching record-high $3,000 per square meter.
Hence, the grim reality is that unlike the richest consumers, many homeowners will have to do with grayer tones, albeit innovation in the digital painting may remedy this visual compromise. Others will probably opt for granite or glazed ceramic as alternative bathroom designs, which is resistant to heat and acid and easy to maintain.
As it turns out, choosing marble brings us to the slippery ethical slope. Yes, it is a natural, eco-friendly material, but it is becoming rarer with each passing day. Therefore, it might be a good idea to tone it down on marble consumption. Think in terms of using it in small doses, for accent and statement pieces. Lavish, floor-to-ceiling application should not be perceived in an overly favorable light. In this case, less is infinitely more.
The beauty is fleeting
Marble is a beloved material in interior design, a trademark of luxury and style. But, the love and attractiveness have their dark side. The prices are rising and the reservoirs are shrinking together with the markets. It is clear as a day that we need to reconsider the use of marble in design and think ahead of time. I know that I would not like to witness the world without the pristine, timeless savor of this paragon stone.
Guest Blog by Mia Gunson
Mia is an interior designer with a burning passion for Art deco. She’s also a multitasking, bilingual cat lover. In her spare time she likes to paint, run, hike and make pancakes. Her motto is “I live to decorate, and decorate for a living”.