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Marmoleum Stories

In a design context, storytelling adds meaning to what would otherwise start and end in a superficial, visual experience. It can be the difference between a person merely observing a space or engaging with it.

The story behind Marmoleum Stories | Forbo Flooring Systems

Each of us has our own story. And each of us will interpret a space in our own unique way. The same can be said of architects and designers: they, too, are individuals after all. A designer who is truly invested in their work will use their heart as well as their head, interpreting briefs and making design choices based on their own lived experience.

From the thousands of options available to them, an interior architect or designer will find themselves drawn to certain materials and not to others. Sometimes they may know the reason why; other times, they may not.

In our Marmoleum Stories, we make space for designers, architects and others to explore their own personal connections with our flagship linoleum product, Marmoleum. In a series of mini film documentaries, a handful of passionate people speak in the first person to the camera, describing their affinity and relationship to the flooring, and offering their own unique and interesting perspectives.

The series offers a close-up and intimate look into the motivations behind the designers’ choice for Marmoleum, through quirky anecdotes, personal accounts and proclivities that would otherwise go unheard.

Francine Houben | The Library Whisperer | photo by Mecanoo

The Library Whisperer: timeless flooring

Staying true to the narrative form, the project gives each designer a nickname or title, such as The Space Maker, The Detective and The Library Whisperer. The latter, otherwise known as Francine Houben, is the founding partner and Creative Director at Mecanoo Architecten. Francine’s Marmoleum story revolves around the theme of legacy and timeless values:

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (MLKL) in Washington DC was a three-year-long renovation project that reopened in 2020 as a contemporary learning hub for all the community. Francine’s design objective was to marry the quite different legacies of the building’s architect, Mies van der Rohe, and Dr King, after whom it was named. To The Library Whisperer, Marmoleum flooring formed a bridge between the two, as a natural means of connecting the contemporary and the timeless.

Watch Francine's story

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library | The grand reading room | photo by Mecanoo
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library | The staircase | photo by Mecanoo

The Storyteller: blending materials

Italian-born visual designer, Francesca Sciarmella – aka The Storyteller - approached Forbo Flooring Systems back in 2014 when conducting her Master’s thesis on linoleum. She was looking for a material with a long and interesting history and a story to tell: a material with an identity.

Enchanted by the artistry of the production process and the natural raw materials that constitute the product, Francesca set about producing a series of experimental linoleum samples. By adding different ingredients such as orange peel, rosemary, lavender and linseed to the core linoleum recipe, she created a novel multi-sensory experience, and in doing so wrote new stories and potential identities for Marmoleum as we know it.

Watch Francesca's story

Francesca Sciarmella | The Storyteller | Photo by Max Radke
Experiments by Francesca Sciarmella and Marta Polenghi
Line terracotta side table design by Francesca Sciarmella Sciarmella
Christien Meindertsma | The Designer | Portrait photo by Vincent Mentzel

The Designer: circularity

The Marmoleum chronicles also introduce us to product designer, Christien Meindertsma: The Designer. In her work, Christien thoroughly examines the life of objects and raw materials. Themes of local production and underexplored resources characterise her work, as she seeks to encourage a deeper understanding of the materials and products that surround us. Her story is one of revelation.

In 2012, Christien explored the potential of producing a linoleum with locally grown flax. More recently, in 2019, Christien embarked on a project with a recycled form of Marmoleum, in which she transformed 150 different samples from an old Marmoleum sample book, ‘Rhapsody in Colour’. The multi-coloured samples were calendared and blended together to reveal a stunning scale of contemporary hues.

Watch Christien's story

Christien Meindertsma | photo by Mathijs Labadie
Christien Meindertsma | photo by Mathijs Labadie

The maker

As you wonder at the colourful close-ups of the Linoleum-protagonist in this footage, you can almost feel it in your hands. The Stories are beautifully narrated in captivating montages by collaborator, Gal Keshet, a young and emerging film maker from Israel and graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven.

The overall impression left on the viewer, is that connections can run deep once we find meaning in the things that surround us…

Find out for yourself: click on the link below and have a look!

Watch all the stories here

Gal Keshet | Photo by Max Radke
Making of Marmoleum Stories | Photo by Marijke Griffioen
Making of Marmoleum Stories | Photo by Marijke Griffioen