Totally Rockin’ It

Two new Texas showrooms—Aria Stone Gallery in Dallas and Cosentino Center in Houston—dig deep to expose the natural beauty of stone­.

Aria Stone Gallery owner Vinny Tavares.

Stone installations, such as the massive quartzite slabs in the bedroom vignette, are painstakingly book-matched.

Tavares looks for one-of-a-kind, first-quality slabs that are rich in color and have well-balanced veining, such as the Siena beige granite pictured.

Aria’s displays include full bathroom and kitchen vignettes.

Aria’s displays include full bathroom and kitchen vignettes.

The tile backsplash and Silestone countertop are from Cosentino.

Museum Quality: Just opened in July, Aria Stone Gallery in Dallas may remind you more of an art gallery than a place to buy big slabs of rock. But there’s reason behind owner Vinny Tavares’ madness. The native of Brazil is the owner of Pacific Shore Stone, a chain of stone showrooms with 13 locations in the southern United States. But a visit to an installation of “slow art” at the National Museum in Stockholm changed Tavares’ thinking. “Slow Art is about being more aware of the origin and history of the materials used in artwork,” he explains. “It forces people to concentrate on a single piece, rather than zoom by.” Tavares was intrigued and began to wonder how he could apply that concept to the stone world.

You can see the results at Aria, where more than 90 enormous slabs of rock in an array of 65 colors hang on the walls of the 10,200-square-foot showroom. “You’ll never find anything here displayed on A-frames or racks,” says Tavares, referring to the methods traditional showrooms use to display products. His pieces probably couldn’t fit on an A-frame anyway—at 6 feet long by 10 feet high, they are suitable for walls and floors. Spectacularly proportioned and in gorgeous colors—deep orange, mottled gold and green, swirling shades of blue and black—the slabs are book-matched as well as consecutively matched. That means that each half of a piece is symmetrical (like the ink blots in a Rorshach test), and all the pieces from that run match the first one—a good thing if you desire a 30-foot marble wall for your living room. And if you want to see what a living room might look like with a marble wall, Tavares has accommodated with a kitchen, bath, living room, fireplace, bedroom and conference room on-site.

The trend-conscious will still see granite at Aria. What they will also find are rarer stones such as quartzite, which has the best qualities of granite and marble and is prized for its subtle browns and beige coloration, as well as the veining. For drop-dead drama, Tavares has devoted an entire room to onyx—the glamorous semitransparent form of chalcedony is shown off to full advantage backlit in a dark room. Tavares has also started bringing in calcite slabs, which are full of crystals and can sometimes appear to glow. If you’re curious about how a slab might look in your bathroom, check out the display at Aria—just don’t expect to see this lustrously glittering stone relegated to countertops. 1617 Hi Line Drive, Suite 310, Dallas, 214.939.8000, ariastonegallery.com

Counter Culture: Everything is bigger in Texas, including the new Cosentino Center in Houston, the largest showroom in the United States for the world leader in quartz, natural stone and recycled surfaces. The megashowroom (6,000 square feet of display area and 25,000 square feet of warehouse) is overseen by Eduardo Cosentino, a third generation member of this family-owned business that’s based in Spain. He’s the CEO of the American market, which represents more than 50 percent of global sales, but he’s partial to Houston for a good reason: “There are lots of design professionals here.”

The man-made product—trademarked as Silestone—is a designer’s dream come true. It comes in an almost unlimited range of colors and is stain-, scratch- and acid-resistant, as well as impact-resistant, a boon for those who wield a heavy pot or pan. Silestone comes in polished, suede or volcanic rock textures for extra-rugged surfaces. Plus, Silestone is all-natural, made from 94 percent quartz (the fourth-hardest mineral in nature) that has been ground up, engineered with additional colors and materials, and then pressed together to create a countertop surface that delivers a consistent look, feel and quality. Cosentino added a bacteria-repelling feature that germophobes really love and that makes Silestone perfect for bathroom and kitchen counters. This fall, Cosentino will debut Dekton, which is suited for exterior use. So, for those who just can’t get enough of this versatile, almost indestructible product, stay tuned because now you can build an entire house with it. See all the options when the showroom opens this November. 13124 Trinity Drive, Stafford, 281.494.7277, silestoneusa.com