It’s hard to imagine someone who knows more about stone than Paul Nahon. As the director of Sydney’s WorldStone Solutions, he’s the go-to guy if you want anything from the finest Italian white marble to his personal favourite, Basaltina (and everything in between).
He’s worked with the likes of Hare + Klein and Greg Natale and imported the stone for such jobs as Canberra airport, Double Bay’s Sake restaurant (designed by Melissa Collison) and high-end homes. “Right now, we’re doing a house in North Sydney. It’s over six levels and has four-metre-high ceilings. It’s almost 1,500 square metres of stone — to put that in perspective a big house is around 500 square metres — they’ve gone large and extravagant! We also had a beautiful project in Cremorne that had a four-storey feature wall. The stone in itself was not exotic, but the size, the dimensions and the parameters were.”
Favouring durable natural stone over its engineered counterparts (“You’ll get sick of the colour or your house before natural stone gets damaged!”), Paul provides high quality products sourced predominantly from Central Europe and China. “I have to admit if I had the choice, I’d sell you a product from Italy! I have a passion for Italy. I think the Italians’ industrial processes are amazing. They understand stone because they’ve been doing it for so long.”
Having been in the industry for 13 years, Paul is the perfect person to ask about the upcoming trends. “There is still a very strong grey, white, monotone, non-busy requirement. The muted colours are what sell. Some architects are asking for very different statement stones, but that’s more for an accent; say a feature wall or a splashback in the kitchen. Also very popular – and I myself am a big fan – is stone being mixed with other elements, so natural stone in conjunction with timber or porcelain.”
Believing stone can be used anywhere in the home, Paul has seen it cover entire homes or just living areas, patios, swimming pools and driveways. And while he gets excited about seeing the finished product installed, for him, the real magic happens in the earlier stages. “It’s a really risky business the stone business, as you’re dealing with nature. What the earth gives you is what it gives you and when your orders get quarried and delivered, there’s nothing I can do about it or you can do about it. You’re relying on a certain element of good fortune and then you’re relying on your suppliers. There are big risks, but that said, huge rewards.”