marmoreal

by Max Lamb

Marmoreal is an engineered marble for architectural surfaces by the British designer Max Lamb.

Background

Composed of four historically significant Italian marbles, Marmoreal is a material exploration that celebrates the individual qualities of these stones while acknowledging that the sum of its parts makes for something far more compelling. The word “marmoreal” means “like marble”; this Marmoreal is composed of approximately 95 percent marble and 5 percent polyester resin binders.

For the first Marmoreal recipe, Lamb selected Rosso Verona, Giallo Mori, Verde Alpi, and Bianco Verona, all Italian marble varietals that have unique and complementary color and textural qualities.

Suitable for interior architectural surfaces, this large aggregate pre-cast marble terrazzo offers an original material language with strong visual value. It skilfully balances 15th-century craft traditions with modern engineered-stone technologies in a waste conscious approach consistent with the history of the man made composite.

Marmoreal White, partial slab 120 x 150h cm
Marmoreal Black, partial slab 120 x 150h cm

Formats & Finishing

Marmoreal is available in an edited range of standard dimensions and finishes that suit the randomness of the material and give the impression of a continuous surface. The smaller 30x30cm tiles provide the flexibility to install in small spaces with a consistent grid while the larger 100x100cm tiles and 305 x 124cm slabs afford a generous surface that maximizes Marmoreal’s visual impact.

Honed finishes offer a more matte, natural expression of the marbles, while a polished finish gives a reflective, saturated quality.

Marmoreal Black 60 x 60 tile

Marmoreal Black 60 x 60 tile
Marmoreal White 60 x 60 tile

Marmoreal White 60 x 60 tile

Applications

Suitable for interior architectural surfaces, Marmoreal can be used in a range of applications from immersive bathrooms and kitchens to impactful flooring or wall cladding solutions.

Bathroom for a Paris apartment, 2015

Slab format Marmoreal has been cut and assembled to make a sink of the architect's design.

Slab format Marmoreal has been cut and assembled to make a sink of the architect's design.
Slab Marmoreal has been templated and cut to create large continuous surfaces.<br />

Slab Marmoreal has been templated and cut to create large continuous surfaces.

Pair of bathrooms in a New York residence, 2015

60x60x2cm tiles were used throughout the two bathrooms.<br />

60x60x2cm tiles were used throughout the two bathrooms.
Each bathroom incorporates pieces from the Marmoreal Bathroom Furniture series designed by Max Lamb.<br />

Each bathroom incorporates pieces from the Marmoreal Bathroom Furniture series designed by Max Lamb.
Marmoreal Slab Basin, Medicine Cabinet, and Toilet Paper Holder.<br />

Marmoreal Slab Basin, Medicine Cabinet, and Toilet Paper Holder.
Marmoreal nook created by cutting and fitting the 60x60 tiles.

Marmoreal nook created by cutting and fitting the 60x60 tiles.

Bathroom for a Laurel Canyon, California residence, 2014

A view from the bedroom.

A view from the bedroom.
This installation uses 30x30x2 cm tiles throughout.<br />

This installation uses 30x30x2 cm tiles throughout.

Approach

After extensive compositional studies, Lamb reached the idea of using large marble pieces as the bulk of the recipe to emphasize the inherent stoniness of human-made stone, rather than the usual small pieces of aggregate typical of terrazzo. The designer’s ongoing Quarry series is a clear reference point for this development. These pieces are characterized by their generous scale and honestly celebrate the qualities of a given stone’s color, texture, and even its historical context.

Marmoreal composition sketch, Max Lamb 2012

Sustainability

Terrazzo’s sustainable roots date back to its beginnings when craftspeople used waste materials like local stone off-cuts and chips from the construction of palazzos. Eventually glass, metals and even concrete were introduced, all consistently local, material waste. In recognition of this history and our current ethical responsibilities, Marmoreal uses dimension quarrying waste materials of Italian origin, most of which are locally sourced near the factory just outside of Verona.

Dimension quarry where some of our marble waste is sourced

Process

Marble aggregates of mixed dimension are mixed together in large industrial mixers with a polyester resin binder. This mix is then poured into a 305 x 124 x 85 cm block mould that is formed over a 12 hour period using a combination of pressure, vibration and some chemical reaction.

Once the casting is complete, the blocks are removed from the mould and placed in a yard where they cure for an additional two weeks before they are able to be cut. The resulting 10 metric tonne hunks of stone can be treated quite similarly to other blocks of marble or stone.

These blocks are cut into standard dimension slabs and tiles, adhering to the most economic and least wasteful use of the material, consistent with terrazzo’s sustainable origins. Following a more reductive approach, the block can also be milled into large single piece furnishings and biomorphic objects.

Clockwise From Left to Right
Gialo Mori, Verde Alpi, Rosso Sant'Ambrogio.
A bag of some of the smaller coloured aggregates used in Marmoreal.
Sorting the ingredients onto the belt.
Mixing Marmoreal ingredients.
Casting in progress.
Completed blocks in the yard.
Cutting slabs from blocks.