Most of my work has its roots in natural forms and textures. The Elm, part of our Foliage Collection, draws inspiration from the leaves of its namesake tree. The design intent, however, was to highlight the leaves’ often over-looked vein patterns as opposed to their outer forms.
The surface was conceptualized using a unique process that combined digital manufacturing with traditional hand-craftsmanship. First, several samples of elm leaves were collated at our studio in Noida, India, where they were three-dimensionally mapped. Thereafter, informed by extensive botanical studies, I illustrated the rough concepts on paper – interpreting the leaves’ natural vein networks into subtle patterns and sizably scaling them up in order to bring them into focus.
Integrating the design process with computer-aided modeling, precise measurements were determined and intricate details were added. Next, we developed multiple prototypes over a period of five months using a Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) milling machine; a range of patterns, stones, and tools were employed in an effort to gauge what worked best. The surfaces were finally finished by hand, where skilled artisans carved intricate textures into the stone.
During the initial study of the leaves, it was observed that while veins are set deep on their sun-facing surfaces, they protrude outwards on the other side. The Elm references this dichotomy: the surface has two versions – an embossed one and an engraved one. The base stone itself, in both cases, isn’t perfectly even; it features subtle ripples for a more natural appearance.
The Elm can be used both indoors and outdoors to enhance spatial atmosphere. It is available in modular panels measuring 24” X 24” and 24” X 48” in three material choices – Graphite Grey Granite, Crèma Limestone, and Pristine White Marble; bands of negative space are added to balance the foliage pattern.
The pattern, however, is customizable and can be interpreted to suit specific project requirements, to create customized installations across varied scales and typologies.