Revealing her latest creation at Edit Napoli, Aline Asmar d’Amman’s The Memory of Stones aims to heal wounds by exposing them.
Lebanese starchitect and founder of the studio Culture in Architecture, Aline Asmar d’Amman recently introduced a new series of sculptural interior pieces made from discarded marble pieces and slabs of brutalist Vicenza stone. Titled The Memory of Stones, it was created with Italian firm Laboratorio Morseletto and was shown to the public for the first time during October’s Edit Napoli design fair, celebrating a new generation of designers.
Together, Asmar d’Amman and marble tailor Deborah Morseletto created a remarkable series featuring a bench, desk, and coffee table, that represent a harmony of contemporary design and ancient materials. “This year’s edition for Edit Napoli is an act of resistance and a true challenge within the world context,” remarks Asmar d’Amman. “Just like the message of hope and meaningful journeys we hope to share with The Memory of Stones.”
This unique collection comprises a series of sculptural pieces of Vicenza stone on which marble is often placed as it is cut, all of which feature transplanted marble elements.
“I wanted to tell the fascinating story of a constant conversation between man and nature through the materiality of marble in conversation with the textures and scars left on the Vicenza stones by man, time, and giant machines,” explains Asmar d’Amman.
She furthers that the hard Vincenza stone is often used as a solid base on which colossal saws cut the marble, leaving random scars and creating an abstract pattern impossible to imitate. “This sort of muscle memory embedded in the Vicenza stone is an invisible thread with the marble transformed on its bed,” she says. “Beauty is not only about perfection, it is about emotional memory, symbols, culture, stories… sometimes tinted with darkness and wounds.” The overall theme of the collection is the idea of concrete poetry; the Vicenza slabs bearing scars and marks from the cutting are celebrated, becoming the centerpoint of each design. The marble inserts create a dialogue with the stone, merging materials, relationships, and appearance. The series’ name is a call to the work of Roger Caillois, The Writing of Stones, in which the author imparts his vision, full of imagination, myths, history, and a deep love for the natural world; a love shared by Asmar d’Amman.
“Looking at stone, Caillois meticulously seeks for the same precision as in the poetic image. He is convinced that art and poetry are not a luxury or a fantasy coming only from the human species, but also from nature,” she says. It’s not the first time that she works with stone – she also collaborated with the late Karl Lagerfeld on a collection of contemporary marble rock furniture featured at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris in 2018.
At Culture in Architecture – with its offices in Beirut and Paris – Asmar d’Amman strives to bring cultures together through a blend of the past and present. The studio has worked on a range of iconic projects, including the reopening of Hôtel de Crillon in Paris and the renovation of the Eiffel Tower’s restaurant Le Jules Verne. The family-run Laboratorio Morseletto takes an artisanal approach to its work and produces marble of exceedingly high quality. As for her collaboration with Laboratorio Morseletto, Asmar d’Amman remarks, “Marble is the most noble material of all, a landscape on its own, a coveted physicality evoking timeless beauty.
It’s a piece of eternity made by nature itself, in the heart of the earth, as a glorious gift to humanity. I don’t see marble as a fashionable material to express luxury or adorn a decor. I see marble as a mystical treasure, a present from nature to man.” She insists that marble is to be cherished, as much is wasted when a block is sliced or carved to create an architectural feature; the remains are forgotten, ending up in the dark corners of a workshop. “From fragments to giant blocks, these pieces are equally desirable and valuable,” affirms Asmar d’Amman. Stones bearing the marks of their removal from the ground; the pieces’ simple shapes and rough surfaces speak to a sense of recovery, the use of stone that might otherwise have been discarded. This rough beauty contrasts with the tailored lines of the marble. Man-shaped elements and the rugged contours of the stones come together to blend ancient processes and modern craftsmanship that echo our very connection to the world around us.
Originally published in the November 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia