Yosef Shiran is the CEO of Caesarstone, manufacturer of the homonymous material and a company that excels in kitchen environments. More precisely, its focus is on countertops. Although collaborations with top designers – Nendo (2013), Raw Edges (2014), Philippe Malouin (2015) and Formafantasma (2015) – have pushed the boundaries of the quartz-based material and led to new applications, from tables to swings to planters, the main stronghold of Caesarstone is the residential countertop. ‘It’s here that the distinctive characteristics of our product come into full play.’ Shiran refers to the blessed trinity in properties for kitchen materials, which need to be low maintenance, extremely durable, and exceptionally resistant to stains, scratches and high temperatures. And keep in mind that Caesarstone makes slabs that are more than 3 m long, with thicknesses between 13 and 30 mm. ‘What stone can compete with that?’

The story of Caesarstone begins in Caesarea, a seaside town midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. It was there that in 1987 the local kibbutz, or ‘communal Israeli settlement’, started to experiment with quartz as a potential surface material. Until then, laminate, granite and other types of natural stone were the main options available for countertops. Initially, Caesarstone used the quartz composite to produce tiles, but it didn’t take long to see the true potential of the material. Why use individual tiles for countertops that have no need for seams or joints? Today, Caesarstone sources its quartz from a number of sites, including quarries in Turkey. To the uninitiated, the process of turning one of nature’s hardest minerals into a surface material may look easy, but it’s not. Shiran is quick to point out that not all quartz is suitable: ‘You need to get a relatively clean kind of quartz, one that’s opaque and clear. And unlike what you might expect, the weight of Caesarstone doesn’t differ much from that of natural stone.’

Photo Tom Mannion

In 2014 London outfit Raw Edges made a huge splash in Milan with the brand’s Islands collection, defying the laws of kitchen design as we know it. The entire project can be best described as an inspirational tool containing out-of-the-box ideas that question current kitchen design while also considering what future generations might need in the kitchens of tomorrow. The collaboration led to The Book of Details, which can be downloaded free from the Caesarstone website. Removing sections of Islands countertops allows you to slot in storage units, appliances and accessories such as knives and tea towels. ‘The material is extremely flexible; it can be carved, manipulated and shaped to desire.’

Photo Vicky Lam

The success story of the moment is the Supernatural series, highlighted by designs with a variety of intricate patterns, rich colours, bold veins and striking textures. Statuario Nuvo, the latest addition to the range, mimics the soft aesthetic of statuary marble. ‘They have a more honest appearance, capturing the best characteristics of marble together with the advantages of Caesarstone.’  

Photo Tom Mannion

‘But why choose imitation marble over the real deal?’ I wonder out loud. ‘Because with Caesarstone you have a nonporous material and still get the desired look and feel,’ says Shiran without a blink. ‘It’s where nature meets technological innovation. Where strength and flexibility join. We want designers to know that Caesarstone can be like putty in their hands and not just a countertop.’

This article first debuted in Frame #107 alongside other previews on materials of the future. Find your copy in the online Frame Store.

Portrait Guy Nahum Lëvy