Materials and Social Status

In ancient roman times, marble was mined and used as a building material for the rich. Besides the fact it was used by the upper class to showcase wealth, it was used as a building material due to its inability to catch fire and the slow pace at which it erodes, as well as its reflective quality. Polished marble captures light very well and reflects it, and houses were clad with marble externally to bring the light of the gods (the sun) down to earth.

Nowadays cheap reproductions of exclusive materials are very common, mainly for their decorative qualities. Available in a multitude of forms, like self-adhesive foil, laminate flooring, cultured marble, spray paint with marble effect and as an art form itself, tromp l'oeil hand-painted marble. Thus the material in its original form still portrays value and status, and fake reproductions are available to allow more people to imitate such wealth.

This shift from its original use in Roman times for its resistance and reflective qualities to contemporary faux marble dinnerware in trailer-trash chic, I picked up upon the reflective quality of the material in order to design a lamp.

Incorporating various forms of marble, from the real thing over tromp l'oeil marble painted by an artist to self adhesive foil with a marble print, I want the viewer to judge for themselves about the way we deal with and look at materials today.

Is there actually a graspable difference in value between the different versions of marble? Is hand-painted marble worth less than a piece of real stone? Has the plastic version been upgraded, because it became integrated into a design, and is thereby no longer merely a surface decoration? The viewers are given the chance to think about these questions and decide for themselves.