Ensuring the best natural stone for the job
30. January 2023
Pibamarmi is one of our regular partners for interior architecture projects. The family-run Italian business values innovation and has developed, among other things, a revolutionary treatment for protecting natural stone.
Natural stone is, in all its diversity, a unique and challenging material to build with. There are endless variations; no two stones are alike. Each block extracted from the earth is one of a kind. The experts at Pibamarmi have specialised in the innovative processing and developing of natural stone products since 1967, and have been collaborating with us on interiors and architecture projects for six years.
Stonemasons with an affinity for design
«Pibamarmi wants to be more than a natural stone workshop», explains Damiano Steccanella in our video call. «We invest a lot in innovation, technology and design.» The 58-year-old has been CEO of the company since 1988. Based in Chiampo, located about 60 kilometres from Verona, the company has roughly 35 employees. In 2013, the company opened up Spazio Pibamarmi in the neighbouring town of Arzignano. The architecturally striking building houses the company’s showroom, covering an area of 1,000 square metres, as well as the technical and other departments.
Every stone has different characteristics and levels of hardness. For instance, granite is one of the hardest rocks and is more resistant to acid than other natural stones, but its colour is often undesirably dark. The palest limestone, by contrast, is soft and more difficult to maintain. «Our job is to draw on our expertise in order to choose the stone that best fits our clients’ project», explains Steccanella, who studied Architecture.
Travertine, a form of limestone, is currently a very popular material in architecture and interior architecture. In addition to classic Roman travertine, Pibamarmi also processes and distributes travertine from other countries such as Turkey. This type of limestone was a common building material in ancient Rome and has been experiencing a revival for some time now. One famous example of its use in modern architecture can be found in Spain: Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, built in 1929, features travertine floor slabs, walls and benches.
A diverse product range
Pibamarmi also designs and distributes its own natural stone products and collections. The family-run business either develops the design in-house or it collaborates with selected designers – there have been twelve to date. «There are different ways in which collaborations transpire», Steccanella explains. «It is important to us in first-time collaborations that everyone involved gets the most out of it in terms of knowledge transfer, the product and communication.»
In December 2022, Pibamarmi started its own online shop; otherwise, its products are only distributed by selected partners with exclusive rights. In the online business, free-standing washbasins are the most commonly sold products, explains the CEO. Pibamarmi also produces baths and shower trays for bathrooms, and beyond that, their product range includes everything from lamps to tables to bookends made of natural stone.
A revolutionary protective treatment
One of the biggest challenges of using natural stone is the ease with which acid and grease damage it. Stains are quick to form and the material gets discoloured. What’s more, if cleaned improperly with an acidic substance, it loses its brilliance.
«Even though until 2015 the market abounded with products protecting natural stone from water and grease, not a single one provided acid protection», explains Steccanella. «We changed that with ‹Acid Shield›.» The revolutionary treatment can be applied to marble surfaces without affecting their natural appearance. Thanks to Acid Shield, wine, body lotion and oil suddenly become nonissues: kitchens and bathrooms can be beautified with stones like crystalline marble or limestone without any qualms.
Forever assimilating new knowledge
For three years, Steccanella has been working on a project in the Caribbean which has given him the opportunity to learn many new things. The aim of the project, he explains, was to recreate ancient architecture in such a way that it could withstand regional dangers such as earthquakes and hurricanes. During his in-depth investigations, the CEO discovered interesting parallels between his own challenges and the ones faced by architects such as Michelangelo and Andrea Palladio. «I had refused to imitate historical architecture for a long time, but now I’m almost 60 years old,» Steccanella laughs, «and I think perhaps taste changes with age.»