Long known for its marble quarrying, the region of Verona, in Italy, has become an international reference in the production of this quality stone. Despite only producing marble since 2006, Citco has quickly become a recognised name in this area, due to the combination of innovation and tradition, natural stone and design. Founded by Iraqi Camiran Rasool, the brand, based close to Lake Garda, came into being in 1990 as a company working in marble promotion, standing out at the time for the creation of extraordinary ornamented surfaces based on classical decorations. “In 2006 came the change. The company decided to open an establishment to produce directly, in order to better control all the phases of the working process and to increase the already undisputed renown of the brand,” Rasool reveals.
And to start this chapter in Citco’s story, marked by the launch of a design collection, which would complement the more classical collection, Ferruccio Laviani was the person chosen, in 2007, to bring the name of the brand to an audience more sensitive to contemporary design. Reinterpreting marble in an original fashion, the Italian designer developed a series of wall coverings, defying the notion we have of this material, including Petula, composed of an array of whine onyx ‘light bulbs’; Bamboo, which interprets canes in desert-coloured lioz; or Couture , a series of large Carrara marble and bronze buttons.
“The entrepreneurial courage we displayed, taking the risk of reinventing this material in an area like that of Veronese marble, asphyxiated and threatened by dullness, is embodied in this collection,” says the CEO and owner of the brand, before adding that “Citco has undertaken the risks of an enterprise, interpreted the concept of luxury and altered the perception of marble. And to make that marble contemporary, it has put it back into human hands and their capacity to carve and shape stone. With the aid of visionary machinery, born and reinvented to give form to design, an enlightened client and designers with a remarkable personality have stripped stone bare, restoring it to the primordiality of form, whilst endowing it with a usable sense and function.”
Handpicking the creative minds with which he works, after Ferruccio Laviani, Rasool invited fellow Iraqi Zaha Hadid to leave her mark on the Italian brand’s collection. “She was the best to impress form, function and vision upon marble. To give expression to the relation between nature and architecture, and to crystallize stone, allying her personality to the perfection of nature. In her products you see a piece of the present, an idea of history, a vision of design made in Italy that becomes a limited series,” the CEO reveals.
Of sinuous lines and sharp angles, the pieces designed by Hadid transmit, in a much reduced scale, her unmistakable architectural style and the first collaborative work between Citco and the Iraqi architect proved a perfect example of this. Unveiled in 2012, during the Milan Design Fair, the sculpture pavilion presented three impressive wall panels in a rare dark marble, inspired by the intricate beauty of organisational systems from the natural world. Celebrating the fluid forms of nature, the pavilion combined the unique texture of marble with architecture, exploring the innovations of design and digital production processes.
“Maintaining the strongest belief in artistic originality and integrity, Citco’s collaboration with Zaha Hadid brings inspiration and delight. The Anglo-Iraqi architect has created an extraordinary collection that explores the possibilities of shaping marble, drawing on the beauty of its stratified and complex structure, developed by the natural processes that have marked and enriched it over time,” says Rasool.
Hadid is designing pieces for Citco for the third year in a row and her creations until now couldn’t have proved more impressive. From Calla, a reinterpretation of the classical Nera Marquina marble fireplace, or the Luna table, a daring piece of torn lines that explores the relationship between form and volume, transforming a rigid, two-dimensional surface into an object with three dimensions, to the elegant and intricate Tela shelving, in black granite, and the organic Tau vases, which mimic complex natural growth systems through a blend of fragility and solidity. “All the pieces, strictly in limited editions, are created from monolithic blocks of marble that are worked, hollowed, and inlayed using cutting edge techniques that celebrate the creative forces of nature thanks to a careful study of the phenomena that characterize the same. With this collaboration we confirm and reinforce our commitment to research and innovation, investing in the highest quality Italian craftsmanship,” the CEO of Citco concludes.
In constant evolution and never resting on his laurels, Camiran Rasool has constantly invested in Citco’s expansion, and the company’s headquarters, in Rivoli Veronese, is yet further proof of his commitment to innovation. Designed by the Ardielli Associati studio, the complex opened its doors in 2013 and from the outset became a clear symbol of Rasool’s vision of the future, housing the factory, offices and showroom under the one roof. Despite the apparent contradiction, in that it features no stone on its façade, the glass and steel building reveals the innovative and challenging attitude of Citco in an industry that hasn’t evolved for a long time. Highly transparent, the brand’s headquarters reveal an unusual lightness, made possible by the long glass façade and by the translucent structure suspended in midair, making the building the perfect setting for marble and craftsmen, essential elements in the development of Citco and in the production of its extraordinary pieces.
“A decisive factor for the creation of excellent manufactured articles with indisputable artistic value is the presence of the highly qualified craftsmen of whom Citco avails itself, craftsmen who dedicate themselves with great skill and passion to working stone and other materials, mostly by hand. Only carefully hand-crafted workmanship, supported by sophisticated avant-garde technologies, can guarantee such results,” Rasool reveals.
Having managed, in less than a decade, to build up one of the most prestigious names in the world of marble and of design in general, while accumulating customers around the globe, including princes, sheiks and presidents, the CEO of Citco has one simple wish for the future of the brand: to carry on “excavating the oldest material in the world, in search of what is unexplored in it.”
Originally Published in Essential Macau magazine.