A few years ago I was struck by the beauty of a 2000 year old Roman stone street. The stones had irregular shapes, rounded corners and were fitted together to form an organic pattern akin to crocodile skin. In a flash I saw the possibility of creating a great contemporary wool rug with irregular silk lines .
A 2000 year old Roman lane leading to a peaceful garden in Pompeii. The stone cutters must have had considerable artistic talent. It is not easy to shape hard volcanic rock into beautiful shapes and fit them into an artistic pattern. Many roads were built in Ancient Rome so this artistic ability must have been quite widespread. These ancient stone artists inspired me to design the contemporary wool and silk rug I named Mosaic, see below.© Juliasha | Dreamstime.com
Mosaic contemporay wool and silk rug has fine handspun wool pile and silk loops. The 7 colors are hard to describe in one or two words: 1. Sea Green; 2.Brown; 3. Wine; 4. Sea Blue; 5. Midnight; 6; Taupe; 7. Desert. The colors are best seen by looking at an actual small rug sample.
I have been fascinated by rocks and stones for years. Travelling on mountain roads I gaze at fantastical shapes, gray granite domes that look like an elephants head, sheer black walls reminiscent of ancient forts and polished red terraces stretching out to catch the last rays of the setting sun.
Our fascination with rocks goes all the way back to our stone age ancestors.
Scholars now believe that the very first works of art were stone handaxes made 1.4 million years ago by a hominid named Homo erectus, a precursor of homo sapiens.
An Acheulan flint handaxe found in Winchester, England. Photo by Andy Titcomb
While most handaxes were used for hunting game, archeologists have discovered heaps of beautifully fashioned handaxes that show no evidence of wear.
Sculpted and polished in teardrop and pear shapes in golden brown colors they are attractive to our eyes even today.
Denis Dutton in his provocative TED lecture speculates that these stone handaxes were made as “fitness symbols” a male would show to a desirable female to proove his fitness as a mate, much as a male peacock’s feather display demonstrates his fitness to a female.
Dutton believes that we humans have innate artistic ability that has come down to us through Darwinian “natural selection”.
So it is no surprise that the thousands of stone cutters who made the roads that linked the vast Roman empire 2000 years ago had natural artistic talent and this is how they came to create such beauty with stones.
Dutton’s speculatiuons could also explain why today we find these patterns in stone so pleasing and calming.
Below are a few pictures showing artistic use of stone over the last 2000 years:
This most photographed street in Boston’s fashionable Beacon Hill would not be so loved if the cobblestones were gone.
Are you fascinated by stones and rocks?
Is it more difficult to create timeless design today than it was 2000 years ago?
What can we do to make our interior design timeless?