Riding the greenish crest of the burgeoning sustainable wave, many manufacturers have recently debuted “engineered” products designed to incorporate the best attributes of natural materials (aesthetics and texture) while eschewing the worst (resource depletion, expense, difficulty of installation). Thus far, we’ve seen this philosophy at work in both EcoTimber and Mafi’s wood flooring products—systems that use real wood as a veneer atop manufactured ply. Dreamwall U.K. has taken this concept and nudged it in a couple of different directions, namely in regards to material (stone and brick rather than wood) and location (wall rather than floor).
StonePanel. Designed by Dreamwall.
The company’s comprehensive line of “walls that are not made of stone” is in high demand for its quality, lightweight, affordability, and—most of all—convincing re-creation of the look and texture of timeless “hardscapes.” Founded in 2003, Dreamwall’s reputation was built on their flagship “Rustic Brick,” a product whose aesthetic jibes well with the UK’s recent spate of mill and factory conversions. Fast forward to Dreamwall’s recent collaboration with Industrias Jiman of Zaragoza, Spain. From this fortuitous meeting of the minds comes the Stone Panel line of Creative Synthetic wall coverings. Since there’s a rather large body of water between me and both the U.K. and Spain, I’ve not been privy to a tactile encounter with Stone Panel, but the product’s look is certainly convincing. Stone Panel is available in a plethora of shapes and sizes (each with a distinctively Spanish moniker): “Pizarra” is a horizontally oriented, rough stone. Available in shades from charcoal to tawny to grey, it’s a dead ringer for the exterior of medieval cities like Toledo or Salamanca. “Laja Fina” has a slightly more organic look. With its exaggerated elongation and rounded edges, it resembles the rustic walls of Spanish hill towns like Ronda in Andalusia. Then there’s “Silarejos” and “Sillar Picado,” a massive and severe rectangular stone that’s a faithful re-working of the walls of the Gothic Cathedrals that are endemic to the country—both a fitting choice for interior or exterior applications.
Back to the question of texture… How then do these synthetic panels capture the feel of real stone? Much in the manner of engineered wood, the Stone Panel products are a synthesis of the “real” and the “fake.” The panels are constructed of a high-density polyurethane core that’s dusted with a veneer of polyester resin and powdered marble. Thus, not only are they lightweight (1-2 lbs. per square foot), and uniformly-sized (approximately 10 sq. ft./panel), each of the 60 styles, textures, and colors behaves just like real stone.
The argument seems convincing enough. And if we take Dreamwall at their word, their Stone Panel usurps the overall utility of real stone. Like everything in this life, however, appearances can be deceiving, and the proverbial proof is in the Yorkshire pudding (or the Flan de Cataluña). So here’s a clarion call to readers on the far side of the Atlantic: has anyone passed their hand across the contours of Dreamwall’s manufactured stone? We’d love to hear from you.