MD Journal

edited by
Alfonso Acocella

MD Journal


Stone materials are the subject

MD Journal celebrates its third anniversary. After a series of transversal monographic issues: Integumentary design, Synapsy. Design and connectivity, Parametric design, Design & Industry 4.0 Revolution, the magazine is, for the first time, facing a topic based on the matter (albeit a “very special” matter that we aim to define) in relation to the design discipline; which is understood in its most traditional meaning as a “project” and “vocational process”.

To quote the words of Vilém Flusser: “If “form” is the opposite of “matter”, then no design exists that could be called “material”: It is always in-forming. And if the form is the “How” of the matter, and “matter” the “What” of the form, then the design is one of the methods of giving form to matter and making it appear as it does and not like something else. Design, like all cultural expressions, illustrates that matter does not appear (is not apparent) except in so far as one in-forms it, and that, once in-formed, it starts to appear (become phenomenon).” [1]

At the centre of the reflection that the Call proposes are stone materials seen as a precious resource (due to their varieties and for non-renewable) researched through an oscillating interpretative filter between the review of the original features (natural) and the artificial ones (transformative-configurative) prompted by man’s actions.

On the basis of the reflection of this Call there is a fundamental question, that we pose to ourselves as curators and the community of researchers interested in the topic: what type of design do stone materials seem to lend themselves to best, in the most appropriate and convincing ways, even if not compellingly? To the design of serial productions, of limited editions, of unique artefacts typical of art design?

We would like the MD Journal issue dedicated to Stone Design to try to answer this question, taking a investigatory-interpretative look, either retrospectively to the past, or to the temporary dimension of the present-future that we are absorbed in.

Man has begun to confront the stone universe from the beginning of his existence on earth, to proceed through more conscious, targeted and intentional manifestations, noticing (an offer from nature in a very wide range of types, hardness and geometric-dimensional configurations) the favourable features to make arms, jewels, work tools, domestic or public objects, enclosures, homes, buildings, monuments, tombs, of them in this matter. In summary, a lot of the elements in the world that surround us.

This issue of the MD Journal aims to explore the horizon of stone design from the past to the present, between tradition and innovation and with special care for this (at least apparent) contrast between the production of serial objects, identical amongst themselves (codified as industrial design) and the specific stone vocation for high-quality production pieces that are unique or replicated in limited collections.


Stone design and natural vocations

It must be highlighted that stone design has always represented a special type of design, be it under the profile of functional ends and means for which the matter has been subjected and geared towards, or be it with regard to the client and the market that, in time, has requested its use and enhancement, with a demand for products that is often limited, elite, which has gone from the ancient to the contemporary.

Generally, it involved types of products meant for interior design (in the shape of coverings and furnitures), inter-external spaces (the present outdoor spaces with articles for terraces, pools, courtyards, atriums, gardens) or public areas.

“Solid” artefacts, marked by some special and recurring features but in some cases, also able to value physical-formal dormant potential that the stone materials have always been capable of providing for artefacts that are involved in their extraction, transformation, interpretation of use and moulding.

The natural vocations of stone materials can only depend on their essence or nature, arising from the special constitutive features of the many, varied categories of lythotypes. Mineral composition, colour, grain, design, layering dimensions, have allowed for scalability, layouts, processes, forms, functionality which are very different from one another, to be refocused on artefact projects for man’s demands and expectations.

Features and vocations (some of which are perceived as ambivalent, even oppositional amongst themselves) able to, from time to time, move and direct the materials towards expectations, directions and unpredictable, varied final outcomes.

Of these we can try to list:

naturality - artificiality

micro-dimensionality - macro-dimensionality

lightness - heaviness

bi-dimensionality - tri-dimensionality

fragility - hardness

mono-chromaticity - polychromy

uniformity - design

opacity - gloss - translucency

workmanship - industrialibility


Focusing on these unique characteristics of the stone material, and certainly on other, we state some possible thematic articulations for writing proposals:

- Historical, modern stone design

- Marbled interior design

- Artefacts and stone systems

- Material, waste, re-use

- Stone design amongst workmanship, new technologies and 4.0 Industry




[1] Vilém Flusser, “Forma e Materia”, pg.12, in Filosofia del design, Milano, Bruno Mondadori, 2003 (ed. or. 1993), pg. 153.