Sara Ferron Cima took her sweet time approaching the Bloc setup from the other corner of the room. She had seen it several times before: confused visitors at Alcova Sassetti who first mistook the pieces on display for 3D-printed objects, and then slowly realizing that they were in front of some type of marble. ‘Carrara marble,’ she would then offer.

Teaching an old material new tricks has been Bloc Studios’ modus operandi since it was founded in Tuscany in 2014. And yet, the tricks of the three 2019 collections seem even newer: it’s quite difficult to stop thinking about that marvelous blob unicorn table – officially called the Onda Marmo Dining Table and conceived by Roman designer Federica Elmo. By devising a new process that allowed her to transfer 3D digital liquid painting in loving technicolour to smooth material, she’s vindicating the contemporary revisions of second-choice marble slabs – Damien Hirst’s horrendously self-indulgent Wreck of the Unbelievable this is not. ‘Marble can be real but [it can also look] disturbingly artificial,’ Elmo explained. ‘These finishes play with the ambiguity between fiction and reality.’

The other two collections were created in collaboration with Odd Matter and Studiopepe – they of that other Fuorisalone standout, Les Arcanistes.

The Fat Rolls, devised by the Rotterdam-based Odd Matter, are inspired by Bernini’s celebrated The Rape of Proserpina. ‘It’s a reminder of fingers on soft bodies, of the fat rolls on babies’ arms,’ explained designers Els Woldhek and Georgi Manassiev. ‘Through the beauty of marble and contemporary processing techniques, we tried to create an object that people wished to touch.’

Studiopepe’s Affinità Elettive is a four-object collection – vases, bowls and trays – that can be joined together. To make the elective even more so, the pieces are made in different varieties of marble – from white Carrara to Portugal pink and Travertino. ‘They were inspired by the characteristic of some chemical compounds that, although linked to another element, tend to leave the first connection in order to create a new one with a third element,’ said Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto. For our Italian readers: this collection might have been inspired by science, but it can very well be described as an Io e Te Francesca e Davide design situation.

‘Our philosophy is based on the idea that every piece of marble has a story that needs to be told,’ explained Ferron Cima. As these pieces speak of fictional realities, Pluto’s grabby fingers and kindred choices, there’s indeed a lot to read in them.