Stone Column

Italy's expanding horizons

November 1, 2005
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
No matter how many times I travel to Italy, it never gets old -- and not just because of the excellent food and wine I enjoy while I am there. As editor of Stone World Magazine, I am fortunate enough to travel to Italy at least two or three times each year, and every time I go, something new seems to be taking place in the stone industry.

This year, my trips to Italy have included the usual visits to the stoneworking regions of Carrara (in June) and Verona (in September/October). Both of these journeys were eye openers for me because they not only demonstrated the endeavors of individual companies, but also the general direction of the Italian stone industry as a whole.

One development that has been in place for several years is technology for applying resin to stone slabs. Each time I go to Italy, I am seeing new plants that have been established specifically for applying resin to slabs, complete with equipment to automatically apply the resin and large-scale driers to ensure that the resin cures quickly and with optimum efficiency. These plants are not only using this technology for traditional granite varieties, but also for exotic stones that would not be commercially available without resin technology. As the use of this technology continues to expand, it appears that a significant portion of material coming out of Italy will be treated with resin products.

I have also been seeing technology in Italy for creating new surface finishes, including the classic Old World look that had previously been available only for marble tiles. New abrasives and methods have been developed that allow this finish to be applied to granite slabs, and they are steadily rising in popularity -- particularly for producers exporting to the U.S. marketplace. At the recent Marmomacc fair in Verona, we saw even more new varieties of textured granite, including some very sophisticated patterning unlike anything ever produced before.

With increased competition from relatively new stone-producing nations such as India, Brazil and China (among others), the Italian stone industry has had the foresight to expand its scope and develop stone products that go far beyond the run-of-the-mill materials. Once again, the collaboration between Italian stone producers and technology manufacturers has resulted in product innovations that set new trends in the industry.

So what do these developments in Italy mean for our industry here in North America? Quite a bit, actually. The development of resin-application technologies has resulted in the availability of an incredible range of new colors in natural stone. Companies I visited in Italy this past year are working with onyx and other materials in an impressive array of blues, reds, yellows, greens, maroons and other unique colors. This is an important point for our stone industry to remember when it is challenged by suppliers of man-made materials, which have repeatedly made the argument: “Natural stone isn't available in [bright yellow, blue, red, etc.]” When a homeowner requests “bright red,” it may now be available in natural stone. This wasn't the case a few years ago.

The new finishes in the marketplace can also offer a unique appeal for homeowners. For those customers who truly want a one-of-a-kind kitchen, selling the textured qualities of natural stone offer suppliers an edge over solid surface materials, which do not offer this aspect.

In the coming months, I will be showcasing some of the companies I visited while in Italy -- particularly producers of unique slab materials. I hope that offering a glimpse of the developments and innovations there will continue to inspire the industry here at home.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Stone World 

Recent Articles by Michael Reis

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

November 2013 Stone Products Gallery

Take a look at some of the latest stone industry products.

THE MAGAZINE

Stone World Magazine

April 2014 stone world cover

2014 April

In this month's issue of Stone World, check out an extensive preview of Coverings 2014, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in April. Also learn more about various types of limestone that were used to build private residences.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine

CSTD_Spring2014_Cover.jpg

2014 Spring

This issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design includes our annual focus on Kitchen and Bath design

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Training Program

How formal is your training program for new employees?
View Results Poll Archive

The Stone World Store

How_To_Polish_&_Restore_Mar.gif
How to Polish & Restore Marble Flooring

This video will show you step-by-step how to resurface and polish marble flooring from grinding and removing lippage and scratches to achieving a highly reflective polish.

More Products

Italian Trade Commission Coverings exhibitor preview

Italian Trade Commission logo 2

The Italian Trade Commission is presenting a large group of the most innovative and internationally renowned Italian suppliers of dimensional natural stones. We hope your busy schedule will allow you to join us for a “genuine” espresso in booth N. 4045 and explore the exciting Italian natural stone resources offered by our exhibitors. Check out Italian stone producers exhibiting at Coverings 2014 here!

  

Stone Industry Education

stone industry educationStone Industry Education is sponsored by Stone World Magazine and Marble Institute of America. The SIE events will help you: strengthen your skills, build your business, and  increase profit in your shop.  Check out stoneindustryeducation.com to register for upcoming fabricator and installer seminars.

STAY CONNECTED

facebook logo Twitter  YouTube