Stone Trends by Dominic Lutyens
Second, we're witnessing a backlash against the pared-down Scandinavian mid-century aesthetic that's been in vogue in the past few years - and an accompanying craving for decorative stone. Yes, flamboyantly patterned, colourful stones, including onyx - a material rarely seen since the 1970s and 1980s - and marble are back in favour.
This is not surprising given what is happening in the fashion and design worlds: at ultra-directional fashion house Gucci, creative director Alessandro Michele has wowed the fashion fraternity with his eccentric collections justaposing tweeds, florals, chinoiserie motifs and glitzy jewellry. His message? Break the rules, have fun ....
In architecture, one project stands out for its use of sumptuous pattern and is perhaps a seminal example of the trend for it: Caruso St John's Art Deco-inspired staircase with a black and white scallop pattern - part of its extensive 2013 renovation of Tate Britain.
Now opulent stone is in huge demand in homes. 'In high-end bathrooms we're seeing a desire for drama with marble and onyx and brighter colours - blues, greens and reds', says Gary Walters, MD of Stone Age: 'One trend is for bookmatching where two adjoining surfaces with patterns mirror each other like the pages of an opened book'. We're talking the antithesis of the unobtrusive, neutral limestone that ruled in the 1990s. 'In a way we're reverting to the 1980s', continues Walters. 'Back then, we used to fit out nouveau riche bathrooms with onyx. The difference today is that the devil is in the detail: it's about finely crafted inlays and refined profiles.'
Others have noticed a trend for extravagant effects in kitchens too. 'Arabescato Carrara marble creates a stunning kitchen worktop or island,' opines Robert Dean, an interior architect at Mark Gilette Interior Design.
Meanwhile, interior designer Cloare Gaskin has observed 'A move away from whites and greys towards stones with a more sepia tone, strong greens, terracotta and geometric patterns. Rules are being broken and clients feel freer to express their personality.'
On my own travels, I recently spotted a huge marble table striated with massive olive green veins in a Paris showroom of interior design brand Christian Liaigre, famous for its luxurious yet understated aesthetic. So much for understatement - I've never seen such a wildly bold pattern on marble before.
Yet stone is popular too with designers creating pieces with homogeneous, plain surfaces. French duo Francesco Balzano and Valeriane Lazard have produced a line of monolithic homeware called Primitif carved from beige limestone - 'a tribute to Stonehenge'. And designers are increasingly in thrall to the look of stone - regardless of whether it is stone. Take the current trend for terrazzo (which usually combines fragments of marble, granite or quartz with concrete and epoxy resin), one example being Sevak Zargarian's terrazzo homeware. And designer Max Lamb explores the possibilities of stone and stone-like textures in a way that appeals to a younger generation. His pieces include monolithic granite chairs called Boulders and his tableware collection Crockery, whose surface mimics the rough texture of Basalt.