Mies van der Rohe

Travertine. The Other Marble.

Not to sound jaded but I’m starting to get bored with marble. Yes, it’s beautiful but it’s also everywhere these days. A buddy of mine is convinced everyone will be ripping it out in 5 years, and though I can’t say if that will happen, I think it’s a good time to start looking at other alternatives.

Lately I have been drawn to the more understated, but very chic, travertine and limestone.

Travertine is a cross between marble and limestone, formed by mineral waters, the formation process gives the stone incredible texture. It’s both soft, so easily manipulated, and extremely durable, it ages very nicely. Even in its most polished form, travertine is earthy. The porous grain maintains a raw feeling of nature.   

The stone is such an important part of our ancient history, it has almost mythical qualities.  The material has endured for literally thousands of years in the Turkish amphitheater of Hierapolis, constructed around 200 BC, in the ruins of ancient Egypt and the Etruscans, and of course in the Coliseum in Rome, completed in 80 AD.

Travertine is a not only beautiful, it’s quite indestructible.

Richard Meier used travertine to build the Getty Center in L.A. because of its historic importance with public architecture and also to express the qualities the Getty wanted to embrace: permanence, solidity, simplicity, warmth and craftsmanship.

Perhaps the most well known modern moment for travertine is the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe. Perfect in its simplicity and fluid connection to nature.

Travertine is not a trend, it’s totally timeless.

This past year I’ve been coveting the travertine offerings from Studio Twenty Seven. A geometric side table by Plueersmitt and another number with by Francesco Balzano are two of my current favorite pieces. The travertine coffee table in my Orchard St. project is a beauty from the 70’s found on 1stDibs. I think we are drawn to items we have a history with, and for me travertine in the 80’s as a kid was the go to coffee table, so it takes me back to my happy teen years when I had 8% body fat.