Glazed lava stone (yes, that kind of lava!) is a luxurious, sophisticated material. It exhibits an inherent reflective beauty, and is durable and easy to maintain. For three generations, the Ranieri family have been dedicating themselves to the process of turning lava stone into high-quality products, that are able to be used on outdoor furniture.
Lava stone is featured in a range of outdoor furniture by Belgian brand Tribu, such as the gorgeous table tops of the Nox, Hexagon and T-table. Recently, Tribu visited the Ranieri workshop at the foot of mount Vesuvius, to tell the story of this incredible process.
400 years old
"My grandmother started buying up quarries on the edge of Mount Vesuvius," says Giovanni Ranieri, third generation of the family business. His grandparents founded a company digging up lava stone decades ago, but it was Giovanni who saw the huge potential of lava stone as a high-end design material. “The special thing about lava stone is that it has a very dense structure. Moreover, lava has no veins like marble," explains Giovanni. "That has the important advantage that you can cut it at all angles."
Lava only arises after an eruption, and the last eruption of Mount Vesuvius dates back to the Forties, during the Second World War. "For us, that eruption was a good thing, we could then take some ashland into possession once again," says Giovanni. He adds that the calcification of lava and sand requires a long time before it can be used in production. "The stone we use is about 400 years old".
New colour wengé
After cutting and sanding the stone, it is first treated to close the pores. After baking the first glaze layer, which is always in white, the most important, but also trickiest part follows, adding the colour. “We do a lot of research into the development of colours. Every day, one of our colleagues is involved in measuring and mixing pigments in order to create the most attractive colours. That is a profession in itself as the pigments change completely when they are baked. For Tribù we had already developed four exclusive colours and for the 2021 collection we have added a new one. This new wengé colour has an elegant brown tone, which changes with the light. As the table tops are finished by hand, each piece is unique.”
The Nodi chairs and Nox Table, an outdoor setting that celebrates lava stone and quality craftsmanship.
About 90% of the Ranieri lava stone goes abroad, a substantial part to Tribù’s customers. When asked about his favourite Tribù design, Giovanni doesn’t have to think for a second: “Most definitely the T Table. It is absolutely stunning, simple, but so sophisticated. But I also adore the Nox table. The fact that the supporting frame appears so light, but is robust enough to carry the heavy weight of the lava stone slats is a sign of pure mastery.”
Here at Cosh Living, one of our favourite outdoor furniture pieces featuring the beautiful lava stone is the Hexagon table collection, where the stone sits beside the teak.
Hexagon teak outdoor coffee and side tables, perfect for by the pool.
A version of this story first appeared on the Tribu website.