Monumental Wonders by SolidNature

For their Milan debut, SolidNature invites international architecture firm OMA to design their experience at Alcova.
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Natural stone brand SolidNature makes its Milan debut this June with Monumental Wonders, a group show of newly commissioned majestic pieces realised by dutch
designer Sabine Marcelis and international architecture firm OMA. For the exhibition concept of Monumental Wonders, SolidNature has commissioned OMA to design an immersive experience which will take place over five different rooms of independent design destination Alcova’s Lavanderia building in a challenge to showcase the different strategies on how natural and semi-precious stones can be presented.

Upon entrance, visitors are taken by surprise and invited to discover the array of unexpected work and objects starting with an impactful wall installation of nine different types of onyx. The slabs are assembled in a sequence designed by OMA to form a 3-D entryway.

The beauty of SolidNature’s roster of materials skillfully assembled by OMA in the portal leads the way to the first room of the exhibition where the inspiring work of Sabine Marcelis takes centre stage. The monolithic state of the art bathroom of Pink Pale Hue Onyx can be admired from 360 degrees as a free-standing sculpture. This playful installation seems to glow from within and every element of the bathroom has been meticulously taken into account by the designer, who has created a piece where form and function cohexists organically.

Sabine Marcelis, Founder of Studio Sabine Marcelis: “There is, for sure, a clear intent in everything I design. It’s very much about getting to the core of something and stripping back any decorative elements. I always design things with function in mind, but maybe when you see the installation in person for the first time, it doesn’t look like the most functional thing. It’s a delicate balance of aesthetics, materiality, form language, and function”.

OMA colonises the main room of Monumental Wonders presenting ‘Balance’ a multi-functional cabinet made out of Satin Verde Marble with shelves in Fresh Flow Onyx. The cabinet can be used as an open shelf from one side while the other side can be used as a closed cabinet system. Balance visually challenges the perception of gravity as it stands on a single support that can be easily rotated. ‘Inhabitable’ is a bed intended as a block that reveals hidden functions within a very clean design.

The bed is made out of two main elements, a fixed slab of Satin Verde Marble and a block of Dark Emerald Onyx which rotates revealing its multiple functions and storage facilities for various items such as plugs, books or laptops. In addition to Balance and Inhabitable, OMA uses SolidNature’s innovative and cutting-edge manufacturing techniques to create The Technological Stone, a block of natural stone with rough finishing, transformed into a power plug creating a bridge between nature and technology. The collection of Technological Stones is the main source of power within Monumental Wonders and visitors can see these connected to screens showing videos of the manufacturing process.

Ellen van Loon, OMA Partner: “The design explores the possibilities of natural stone, from the unfettered expressivity of a raw block of marble to the creative reuse of leftover off-cuts and stone dust.”

The visit of SolidNature’s Monumental Wonders culminates with the Lab Room. Here, the expert natural stone manufacturer demonstrates the possibilities of the materials throughout a colourful display of marble samples, arranged by gradient. Most spectacularly, SolidNature will be showing the experimentation of the material, especially by using marble dust which is still in an early stage of development. Visitors will be able to learn two techniques of working with dust; the first consists of casting the dust together with resin to create new textures, while the second process generates new colourways of stones by blowing air inside a case containing different stone dusts. This method has been largely used by SolidNature and the most well-known example of this can be seen in the bright pink stone used for the elevator of Fondazione Prada’s Torre.

“Monumental Wonders is the result of SolidNature’s constant pursuit of beauty and craftsmanship. Our constant research to develop cutting-edge solutions that highlight the versatility and uniqueness of natural stone informs our exhibition at Alcova where we aim to show that the impossible can be made possible through experience, creativity and ingenuity. For Monumental Wonders we have been privileged to collaborate with a formidable team of creatives who translated SolidNature’s desire to push boundaries and reinvent the limitless ways in which natural stone can be utilised“, says David Mahyari, CEO of SolidNature.

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