Industrial stone design – an interview to Lithos Design’s main actors
A three-person interview.
At the centre of Lithos Design are brothers Alberto and Claudio Bevilacqua and designer Raffaello Galiotto who tell us why they have decided to design and create the monumental works STONE GATE and MATERIA LITICA, two of the most complex industrial stone design projects ever made.
After Materia Litica in 2011, Stone Gate came in 2012. What was the strategy and inspiration behind these important projects?
A: Experimentation, technique and aesthetics have always been a part of the Lithos Design DNA. These projects are and aim to be expressions of the extremely high level of company skill, which is then transferred to standard production, giving it a high tech added value that is of fundamental strategic importance and recognised by the market.
C: Our basis is a real passion for stone, which we encounter every day. This means freeing oneself from the concept of everything being strictly linked to business and, at times, overcoming obstacles through dedication. Each new work satisfies our personal desire to explore new situations, new technologies and new ways of working.
R: Stone Gate and Materia Litica suggest innovative possible paths towards a new way of using stone in architecture. Stone Gate, for instance, aimed to have an immediate impact: I tried to remove everything that wasn’t absolutely essential to this aim in order to convey the sense of gravity and the surprising effect that can be obtained with a system of suspended stones.
Investing in projects as well as production at such a difficult time is a strong message of determination and company solidity. So what type of message are you aiming to give your public?
A: The cornerstones of Lithos Design are its great passion for the natural elements of stone and marble and the clear and precise aim of innovation in the sector. Developing complex projects like Materia Litica and Stone Gate are inevitable consequences, which, together with our clear entrepreneurial idea, make Lithos Design a reference point in the industrial stone design sector.
C: Sacrifice and investment in every single project of this kind are important. However, it must be said that we do it first and foremost for ourselves, to satisfy our desire for knowledge and to go beyond the obvious. It is a kind of free action, to understand how far we can go in working with and using stone. These experiences are the lifeblood of new product development. This was the case with Materia Litica which then led to the successful Drappi di Pietra collection. We handle stone with immense respect and gratitude and, in a way, it repays us by allowing us to create amazing products and designs.
How does the work progress from sketch to creation? Is it love at first sight? What kind of difficulties do you encounter more often?
A: There’s a sort of magic about special projects, you see one and fall in love with it. Complex technical problems related to design, creation and installation are quickly forgotten and give way to amazement and admiration.
C: After 7 collections and 3 projects in the 6 years the company has been active, I can say that every year we decide “Ok, this is going to be the year ‘off’”. Then Raffaello shows us a sketch and immediately my brother and I both say: “Super! We have to do this. It would imply a lack of respect for ourselves, our work and the world of stone if we didn’t.” So we start.
R: The idea comes suddenly, then it is honed, reworked and defined through necessary development work, that sometimes involves further skills and cooperations. For example, Stone Gate is a design in which stone is a participatory material, in other words it is the weight of the material itself and its features that create the work. In this project I can’t draw a clear line between design and engineering. Let’s say that each overlaps with the other. I think it should always be like that, including with other skill sets. A good design should not necessarily be to the detriment of other aspects.
So these projects can create strong synergies. How difficult is it to involve partners in this kind of activity?
A: All the partners we’ve been working with so far shared the same passion and strong sense of involvement in the projects. Under these conditions cooperation difficulties disappear.
C: The main partners in our projects have always been quarrymen. This is because the design allows us to see the potential of what we can create with stone. Up to now we have always found partners who believed in our projects, participating and supporting us completely in these experiences. However, it has never been automatic or easy finding partners… I think that lots of companies still firmly believe only in investment for short-term economic gain.
R: Experimental projects like Stone Gate or Materia Litica don’t have a short-term business goal, these are activities with a wider scope that bring benefits in the long term. The companies carrying out this strategy are few; consequently, few are the partners who can support them. I’m convinced that this strategy offers great opportunities instead, which couldn’t be taken with more direct business attitudes.
You always seem to have a great enthusiasm for everything you do, almost showing a “lack of tiredness” because of your passion. What is your secret?
A: Our dedication, our aim to produce good, and constantly better, work are the stimuli that help us travel the difficult road of innovation.
C: I’ll repeat what I said before. It is first and foremost a need for us, it is our great passion. When you do things with passion everything becomes more natural and, in some way, easier.
R: I don’t know, but I know I like challenges. Sometimes facing them is tiring and involves sacrifice, but in my case I can say that effort and sacrifice are always proportional to the satisfaction that you get. They are, however, passing aspects. What remains are your designs, the things you do. You don’t see the rest and it’s easily forgotten.
Are you going to display STONE GATE in other exhibitions after Marmomacc 2012?
R: … Has the press release been issued already? No? Well, we will tell very soon…
See all of our industrial stone design special projects here!