Interior Obsessed + Designer Showcase: Ferris Rafauli
Having the pleasure of being immersed in the stone industry for 9 years, plus the precursory 21 years of simply being surrounded by it, piqued my penchant for interiors. Yes, natural stone is one of several integral elements within the interior design process now, however trends have evolved greatly over the years. The 60s, 70s and 80s barely welcomed stone and instead saw floral patterns, shag pile rugs, bright colours, followed by a decade of pastels, lots of wallpaper and frills, the oddly popular hue of ‘avocado green’, valances seated atop large curtains and laminate flooring (at the tail end of this period and only for kitchens). The 1990s saw a shift with a more emphasised consideration for practicality and functionality, such as wooden and laminate floorings becoming chic. This decade was one that shed a lot of the ‘frilliness’ of its predecessors. Items like floral sofas, wallpapers and frills were out and a new age of minimalism, with some throw pillows included, emerged. The Noughties was riddled by the technological revolution, becoming a key element in design consideration. TV’s discarded its additional bulk and got even sleeker, kitchen appliances became robotic and beautiful, with some getting more and more passionate about the appearance of their toaster and kettle (having matching/complementary ones was all the rage), and comfort held more importance. Recession proof feature walls were the ‘in’ thing, where one wall was betrothed to wallpaper, or its cheaper alternative - paint. So, natural stone was around, in the form of a kitchen worktop or flooring, but not quite the hot commodity it later became.
The trends of the current decade transcends all previous ones, especially in my biased opinion, where the marriage of natural stone and interiors becomes even more apparent. We see impressive bathrooms laden in marble to every square inch, bar the ceiling, for which my excitement can barely be contained. Feature walls bid farewell to paper as they take on stone instead. Impressive exotic colours like Fusion Granite and Calacatta Marble replace prized art pieces on walls and instead carry mirrors. As mentioned before, with my obscene passion for stone, I am the person who visits every bar and bathroom at every establishment in order to pass judgement on the interior designer and understand what the space aims to convey. If it’s a quartz (a manmade composite) then the design is about practicality and costs, and less about aesthetic pleasure. If a marble like Sahara Noir, it’s screaming luxurious minimalism and creating a sleek sexy and more androgynous demeanour. Another example is the Portoro used to clad the external façade of the NYC nightlife export, The Box, in a Soho alleyway. This marble retails at over £2000/m2, but has casually been used externally as a discreet way of marking its entrance, as this nightclub reveals no external signage whatsoever. Something like an Antique Brown granite doesn’t quite convey neglect towards the surface in question, as it’s a classically beautiful material and not the cheapest, but it does err on the side of caution without being too bold or polarising.
With my stone obsession, comes my complete undeniable and mad love for the ultra-luxury designer – Ferris Rafauli. Rafauli, a name eponymous with grandeur, is renowned for his seamless integration of designing and building, with each stage from design to conception being personally overseen by the master himself. The full turnkey service provided is apt for his ultra-luxury clientele. Recently ‘Champagne Papi’ (Drake’s Instagram pseudonym) posted various videos from inside a luxury mansion as designed by Rafauli. This home featured a living area fireplace and bar completely covered in Paonazzetto, a Statuarietto hammam (I mean literally the whole entire bathroom was covered in this Italian marble plus a custom solid bathtub), a Statuario kitchen and impressive floor patterning using Filetto/Silver Grey Limestone. In case I’m not painting the image of uber-luxury quite clearly, I reveal to you the existence of an Hermes children’s nursery – signature burnt orange carpets, chairs and cabinet doors combined with leather detailing. One of my personal favourites of his projects, is the indoor pool of a $50m mansion refurbishment in Toronto, which took 22 months to complete. The interiors of this home are breath-taking, but the swimming pool area boasts so much Sahara Noir that it gives me goose bumps. Chevron style flooring features in the ‘sitting area’ and large bronze framed mirrors further embolden this dark moody and extremely sexy setting. What Rafauli does is take a piece of stone, which is like art itself with its spectacular natural variation of vein patterning, and add another dimension to the space by suggesting unconventional cutting patterns and fitting designs. This elevates the entire space, bringing about an incredibly striking and luxurious result. One would not have thought that natural stone would have the power to transform interior spaces to the extent that they’re now able to and Rafauli is one of the pioneers of just this!