When Dutch materials expert Stone and Skills discovered Neolith® in a Netherlands-based stone shop three years ago, the brand immediately captured their attention. The wide range of different colours, patterns and finishes on display fired their collective creative imagination, encouraging them to find out more about this Spanish Sintered Stone.
Following a visit to the Neolith factory in Castellon, Spain, they learned more about the performance and aesthetic attributes of the material and were determined to work with it on future projects.
Upon returning to the Netherlands, the Stone and Skills team kept thinking back to the ways in which Neolith had been presented, through various applications, at the brand’s Valencia-based showroom.
“It brought the product to life in a variety of ways,” said Amal Babay of Stone and Skills, “Like any building material, it’s one thing to see the standalone slabs hot off the production line, but quite another to see them in application. Experiencing a kitchen or bathroom specified in Neolith gives essential context, emphasising its visual qualities and design capabilities.”
Babay continues, “We wanted to bring Neolith to life, giving our clients the same experience as we had in Valencia, by creating an immersive atmosphere which would do justice to this prestigious brand. Inspired by what we had seen, we decided to take the showroom concept a step further and create a fully-functioning ‘Show Home’, allowing a customer to enter a real residence. Here they could truly visualise how their own project might look if they specified Neolith.”
Stone and Skill’s ambition was on a grand, all-encompassing scale. They wanted to incorporate a variety of colours, patterns, finishes, thicknesses and formats to really celebrate the aesthetic breadth of Neolith’s range. Applications across floors, walls, worktops, fireplaces, dining tables and even a clock demonstrated the brand’s potential.
A modern house in Hoofddorp (Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands) provided the perfect set within which to conjure up a vision in Neolith. Spanning a total area of 120m², Stone and Skills sought to create a contemporary feel with an industrial theme, playfully mixing several different material patterns including wood (La Boheme), metal (Iron Grey, Iron Moss and Iron Corten), concrete (Beton and Concrete Taupe) and marble (Pulpis Silk).
With so many diverse colours and finishes used, it was important for the designers to ensure that none of the surfaces clashed with each other.
To achieve a balance, Stone and Skills turned to Fauvism, an early 20th Century artistic movement made popular by artists such as Dufy, Derain and Braque. This approach focuses on the use of complementary colours, in which seemingly opposite hues can be used in conjunction to make each other look brighter. A famous example of this technique is Matisse’s Le Bonheur de Vivre (1905), a pastoral scene painted in a mesmerisingly vivid mix of red and green, purple and yellow.
Although using earthier tones than Matisse’s brighter palette, the principle was no different for Stone and Skills. For example, they chose a warm, rich, rusted-iron colour, offset with a cooler, subtly-grained, natural wood pattern. This combination resulted in a visual marriage of materials, emphasising each as one part of a greater whole.
Commenting on the significance of the project Amal Babay of Stone and Skills said: “The biggest reward for us is the look of wonderment in the eyes of our clients when they step over the threshold into a world of Neolith. One of our clients was so impressed that they chose to replicate the design of the show house, using different colours from the Neolith catalogue.
“The design impact of Sintered Stone is significant! Neolith’s resistant properties also mean that it has a long-term value not matched by most other surfacing materials, the 3mm is particularly impressive as it’s not available anywhere else. More and more customers are asking for seamless tiling, for which Neolith is perfectly suited. We only see the category’s influence growing for both interior and exterior specification.”