Dyeing stone for decorative interiors

Materials World magazine
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27 Sep 2019

Creative approaches to finishing and protection are bringing about a revival of natural stonework for decorative interiors.

Precious stones are an attractive and increasingly popular choice for luxury interiors. Growth formations, patterns and colours make for highly desirable stone that is unique, while also being delicate, tough to work with and very expensive.

Decorative designer, Solid Nature, sources and supplies natural stone for large projects, and manipulates raw materials to develop unusual aesthetics.

Tickled pink

The company produced the pink elevator at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, Italy. Fondazione Prada is a collection of buildings celebrating architectural design and creativity, and the new Torre tower needed an original touch, for which the architects wanted one green and one pink elevator.

With the branding colour unattainable from raw stone, Solid Nature injected onyx with pink dye to achieve an exact match. ‘We basically created a new raw material,’ Solid Nature CEO, David Mahyari, told Materials World.

Former CEO, Danial Mahyari, said after many trials of painting and soak dyeing onyx and marble, the team found a way to produce the right colour. ‘We were finally able to dye the stone […] by injecting the colour into the stone. This way, we were able to maintain the stone’s depth,’ he said.

The stone is put through repeated cycles of dyeing, where the block is immersed in a bed of dye and a vacuum drives the colour through the block. Once the correct tone is visible, the stone is dried, cut and polished.

‘The stone will keep its colouring for years, even when in use. We managed to get the perfect red/pink colour and the perfect green. Both elevators, floors, walls and even the ceilings included, were installed fully with the beautiful new developed material,’ Danial Mahyari said.

Strong and safe

There are also technical challenges, such as the project to install onyx in a swimming pool, which required a new sealant to protect the porous material.

‘We produced the first swimming pool made out of backlit onyx. And we also created a sealant which makes the onyx stronger to protect it against stains,’ David Mahyari said.

‘The stone is 20mm-thick and the sealant is as a normal impregnation applied on the stone. Based on that specific onyx and specific pressure, it took around 1.5 years to create a sealant to keep the stone strong enough. It was important for the client that the look and feel of the stone would remain the same with no additional layer visible and tangible.’