To get to the Scarpelli mosaics workshop, Pierre Marie passes the serpentine and marble-clad Duomo, a symbol of stone’s defining importance to Florence. He is here to learn from Leonardo Scarpelli, a master artisan who works with stone in a way so refined that it’s described as painting with stone. Called commesso fiorentino, it dates to the Renaissance. The Paris-based designer at first senses a bit of apprehension about their joint project. But as Scarpelli shares his process – a marriage of art and ancient technique – and as Pierre Marie presents his work, they realize a surprising similarity. “In my drawings you always have a precise stroke that delimits a border between colors,” says the designer.
“Scarpelli Mosaici does the same: you have to draw a line that will separate the different stones.” Scarpelli has brought out stacks of stones in an array of colors inspired by some of Pierre Marie’s work. They decide on labradorite, an iridescent stone from Madagascar, as the focal point. For nearly two hours, Pierre Marie assembles his color palette. “It’s fascinating to watch him make the combinations,” says Scarpelli, delighted by how quickly he takes to the new medium. Back to Paris, Pierre Marie creates a tray with a wooden frame made by the prestigious Bottega Ghianda. As Scarpelli crafts the stone inset, he’s in touch with Pierre Marie on minor adjustments. “I’m a designer who draws a lot so I know the importance of the hand,” he says . “I like the idea of Doppia Firma because you have two hands from two people working together.”