Remember when every Instagram still-life — whether of pink Himalayan sea salt or delicate gold jewelry — was shot on top of a white marble surface? I’m still not above it. Just last week I did the same with a pair of socks and some tomatoes (it’s the only spot in the kitchen that gets any natural light).
But recently, the trend’s gone a bit haywire. A less humble, dare I say maximalist, version seems to be taking its place. In fact, I’m calling it maximalist marble, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s officially everywhere.
Maximalist marble (or its many imitators) already exists in the world outside my smartphone: underfoot on the subway; under-tray at an In-N-Out Burger; along the black-and-pink tiling of the Hollywood Walk of Fame; in the waiting room for jury duty. It’s called terrazzo, and I’ve started pointing it out to anyone who will listen.
Here are my theories as to why maximalist marble is emerging with such razzmatazz:
It feels aspirational.
There’s something luxuriously Italian-looking about it. If I owned this Aesthetic Pursuit table, I would probably enjoy a protein-rich breakfast each morning atop it. The unpredictable patterning of the terrazzo beneath my laptop would inspire my neurons to fire as I worked from home and I’d have so many more blockbuster ideas. I’d have a charmed life if my home office made me feel like I was working out of Bar Luce (the Milanese cafe designed by Wes Anderson at the Fondazione Prada, bespeckled with maximalist marble).
It’s literal eye candy.
It looks edible to me. Terrazzo is nearly identical to the traditional Italian nougat, Torrone, so it’s appealing to eyeballs and taste buds. It conjures up memories of those last nougat bits that stick to my teeth after finishing off a whole bar of Toblerone on an airplane. In the twilight of Willy Wonka’s career, he would have been an internet sensation had he built a house of nougat.
The art world’s been hyping it.
The Memphis Group, the infamous Italian design and architecture group, is having a moment in the mainstream, and many of the contemporary designers who have hailed the group’s work feel vindicated by the wave of global attention. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s contemporary arm, the Met Breuer, put on a show featuring the Memphis Group’s founder, Ettore Sottsass. Museum visitors were awash in air conditioning and maximalist marble.
It’s kind of uncool.
Linoleum, terrazzo’s municipal cousin, is so commonplace (subways, schools) that maximalist marble’s close association with this ubiquitous material puts it in dicey, sometimes extremely uncool territory, but in a good way. Kind of like ugly sneakers. It’s so not chic that it’s chic.
Have you noticed this, too? Does maximalist marble whet your aesthetic appetite like it does mine?