A superior interior with stone

Nothing finishes an interior like natural stone. A limestone floor. A granite worktop. A marble vanity unit. Wall linings and furniture in any one of myriad natural stones. In domestic and commercial interiors. It all exudes quiet confidence and quality.

But with literally thousands of stones to choose from, how do you decide which to use? How do you even get to see all that is available? Don’t worry. Help is at hand at the Natural Stone Show taking place at ExCeL London 28-30 April.

There you will be able to see a huge range of limestone, sandstone, basalt, gabbro, quartzite, marble, granite, slate… (you name it) all under one roof.

And not only see it, but also feel it, because the sensuous feel of stone in all its various finishes is integral to the delight of using it.

With the UK economy having enjoyed the fastest growth of any developed country last year, this year’s two-yearly Stone Show has attracted even more exhibitors from all over the world than it did last time. It is 20% larger than it was in 2013 with more than 200 companies represented.

Nature has taken millions of years to imbue natural stone with originality, drama and sheer stylish elegance that man, despite his very best efforts, simply cannot reproduce.

More prosaically, it also adds more to the value of property than it costs to incorporate it.

There are exhibitors at the Stone Show from all over the world, including China and India, which are major suppliers of natural stone to the UK these days. Both countries are blessed with huge quantities and diversities of almost every conceivable natural stone. From China come the likes of A Plus, Huangchang, Nanjing Ceicai, Xiamen Chitrust, Yantai Yuyi (there are more) and from India major suppliers including Covenant Stone, Natural Stone Concepts, Ravileela Granites, RR Paving, Stone International and VJ Quarries.

Of course, when you think of stone you tend to think of Italian marble, particularly, perhaps, the lightly veined white marble of Carrara. Marble sales are growing again as people move on from kitchens, where hard granite has natural advantages in an environment of hot pots, sharp knives and acidic foods, to making features of bathrooms, bedrooms and living areas.

Italy’s marbles (as well as a whole host of other marbles, granites and stones from all over the world) are supplied by the UK’s major wholesalers – such as Stone World, Stonecrest, Trade Price Stone, Gobal Granite, Nile Trading, Rocks Forever and Stone Consulting, all exhibiting at the Stone Show – although Italian marble companies, including leaders such as Ceresa Marmi and Marmi Alberti, will be there in their own right.

Another important stone supply country for the UK is Turkey, the source of much of the travertine laid on domestic and commercial floors, although also a producer of many other fine marbles. Companies from Turkey exhibiting at the Stone Show include the likes of Ataymer Medencilik, Finike Marble and Naturelmar.

Spain and Portugal are traditional suppliers of stone to the UK with popular products such as Rosa Porrino and Crema Marfil. But they have so much more to offer, as you will be able to see at the Natural Stone Show. There are 18 companies from these two countries exhibiting at the Stone Show – companies such as Pinacas and Granitos Vincios from Spain and Mocapor and Dimpomar from Portugal.

There are many more countries represented, including exhibitors from Egypt, which will be new to many. North Africa offers some beautiful stones worth exploring, so be sure to call in on the stands of Alex Tiles and the Haddad Group.

If you prefer your stone home grown – and the UK offers some extremely elegant and desirable limestones and sandstones that make excellent flooring, fireplaces and features – there are more than ever British stone producers exhibiting this time.

There will be plenty to inspire you on the stands, but you might also enjoy the photographic gallery of the projects honoured in the Natural Stone Awards presented in London in December by Stone Federation Great Britain, the industry’s representative body that has supported the Stone Show since the Show’s inception in 1995.

Avoid the crowds at the registration desks at ExCeL by registering online now at stoneshow.co.uk

  • You can find out a lot more about natural stone and how to select and use it at the free RIBA CPD-accredited Architects & Designer Day (28 April) at the Natural Stone Show. It includes presentations, a tour of the Show with a guide who will explain more about the products you are seeing, and a cooked lunch at a restaurant near to ExCeL sponsored by Portland limestone producer Albion Stone – Portland limestone is an excellent building material and makes an ideal floor tile. Spaces are limited by the size of the lecture theatre and it is first-come-first-served. Register for Architects Day at bitly.com/ArchitectsDay