Italy has always been a cornerstone of quality and fine taste when it comes to marble production, there are hundreds of companies that specialize in the processing of this natural stone. But few of these firms stand out in the way Rigo Marmi does. After 60 years in the industry, the company has developed a reputation for its expertise and services. That’s why we were curious to interview the company’s CEO, Giorgio Passoni, to find out more about what sets Rigo Marmi apart from the rest.
What projects are you most proud of?
There are many. One is the Bulgari Hotel in Milan, it was their first hotel and there was a lot of pressure from investors to make it perfect. It involved fifty people and was quite a big project to complete, so I was very proud of the finished result. Another favorite of mine is Milan’s Piazza Cadorna, but for sentimental reasons. It was the last project I worked on with my late uncle, who I was very close to.
What distinguishes you from other marble companies?
The marble industry is very spread out, each company has found their own niche. Our strong point is that we follow the project from start to finish, from all angles. We do everything from giving initial consultation and drafting blueprints to manufacturing the product and installing it with all the finishing touches, key in hand. It is very difficult to coordinate all these stages, but it does set us apart from other companies.
In what areas do you work the most, both in Italy and abroad?
We’ve always worked all over Italy, from Rome to Florence to Turin, but we have done a lot of important work in Milan, since we are based here. Our work also extends to America and throughout Europe. We do all sorts of projects: upscale fashion boutiques in Paris and in London, and even a gorgeous theater in Russia.
We saw some stunning marble installations in your showroom, they almost resemble works of art. Tell us about a specific project in which you used them.
Directly in the city center, there is the home of a very noted businessman, who I cannot name for obvious privacy reasons. We incorporated precious stones and slivers of marble into huge, smooth panels that were used to cover both the floors and the walls. It took us six months to complete, and the finished effect was dazzling.
What materials are best paired with marble?
I want to say anything can work well with marble. Wood and ceramic has been used a lot, already for a while now, but also glass and metal pairs beautifully. Lately Venetian flooring has been very popular, and the same granular material is used to cover walls as well.
What is the most difficult thing about working with marble?
Everything! Because you’re working with a natural material, you never know what surprises to expect. Quarrying the stone can be quite difficult, you might end up being able to use only half of what you expected. You can never fully plan everything until you directly see what you are working with. Also, because there are a lot of stages from planning to installation, the margin for error is always quite variable, there has to be constant quality control to make sure everything runs smoothly.
What materials do you offer other than marble?
Because we offer such a complete service, we like to give people the opportunity to find everything they need here in one place. This is why we also created the branch Rigo Superfici to supply other products, and not just marble. We have everything from wood flooring and ceramic tiles to resin surfaces.
Is there any type of marble that you personally like more? Are there certain types that are more popular in comparison to the traditional classics? What are some recent trends?
I find all natural stones beautiful, each one has its own particularly unique aspect. Some of the more traditional stones, such as Travertine and Botticino, are being used less now, but I find that when worked in a certain way, they still give stupendous results. With the recent modern trends, people are obviously looking for the more unique and colorful marbles, but there’s been a boom in limestone as well.
How important is artisan craftsmanship versus technological prowess in your field? Which is more important?
Before, everything was done by hand, now the technology has not only lowered production costs, it also allows us to use the stone in a variety of new ways. Marble is naturally very heavy and thick, but new technologies can create lighter, thinner slabs. These can be used as wall coverings, sculptural veneers, or even as retro-illuminated window panels. That being said, the particular characteristics of the stone will always require artisan workmanship. The human element is incredibly important. Even the biggest marble company will always remain largely artisanal by nature.
Can you give us an example of a project in which you used the latest technologies in a design piece?
Honeycomb technology allows us to greatly reduce the thickness of a stone, while keeping its sturdiness intact. It is therefore much lighter and more versatile. We have outfitted many huge luxury yachts with gorgeous marble bathrooms and natural stone flooring, something that was impossible to do before.