Between a company and a designer there can be a natural point of contact, a synergic vision of style and intentions, which lead to the creation of products in which the two protagonists can work face to face, in a context of reciprocal growth of expertise. For Margraf and Jean-Michel Wilmotte this common denominator lies in an architectural approach to design, fully rational and well balanced. On the one hand, the Vicenza-based company that “for 110 years has transformed nature into architecture” – as in its mission statement. On the other, a French architect, urbanist and designer who ranges “from the spoon to the city” while applying the same compositional philosophy, with a special ability to reinvent himself every single time.
The tangible results of this encounter can be seen in the Gradina and Herma collections created by Wilmotte Design Studio for Margraf: a dual offering based on an original interpretation of the use of marble in the bath environment. The two new collections provide washstands and shower trays, which take form thanks to Fior di Pesco Carnico®, a marble that is a Margraf exclusive taken from the only quarry in the world for this variety, at Forni Avoltri (in the province of Udine). This marble has its own particular tones, ranging from gray to pink, white to ivory. The sensual chromatic shadings are accompanied by the great stability of this precious natural material, which reacts perfectly to water: these characteristics boost the quality and appeal of the collections, for truly premium bathrooms.
Gradina and Herma enter domestic space like works of micro-architecture: linear, structured, measured in their use of material and in relation to space. But their concept goes further, investigating the potential of the stone material, which has been deconstructed and combined with iron structures to obtain a contrast with a singular contemporary image, between the natural stone, with its rugged appearance and irregular form, and the precise cutting of the metal. A harmonious dialogue between natural and man-made elements.
Every piece stems from the crafting of monolithic solid blocks of Fior di Pesco Carnico® (in particular, the double washstands are composed of single marble pieces, with a length of over meters), thanks to the use of futuristic numerical control machinery and robots of the latest generation, matched with the sartorial skills of the Margraf Innovation Lab.
Both collections draw on culture, craftsmanship and an artistic approach, reformulated and filtered by the creativity of the designer. The first, Gradina, makes reference to a historic tool utilized in sculpture, the gradine, a sort of chisel used for the rough carving of marble, with teeth along the edge to eliminate irregularities and to produce the general shape of the piece. The collection contains a double washstand with oval basins, a single washstand with a circular basin, and a square shower tray with a circular inner basin.
The second, Herma, takes its inspiration from a piece by the famous Greek-French composer, engineer and architect Iannis Xenakis, for whom Jean-Michel Wilmotte has created the settings for a solo exhibition recently opened at Grand Palais Éphémère in Paris. The series offers a double washstand, a single washstand and a shower tray, with squared forms and rectangular inserts of Nero Marquinia marble.
In both Gradina and Herma, the washstands rest on black iron structures that add a minimalist touch while transforming the product into a true table, revolutionizing the traditional ‘layout’ of the bathroom.