Last year, the Venice, California-based designer Mario Romano invented a new kind of wallpaper. Except this “wallpaper” isn’t made out of paper at all. It has volume and texture you can touch, and it can be carved in a single, continuous design, because it’s made out of Corian, a solid surface material created by DuPont. Romano’s tagline for his product? “Nature doesn’t repeat itself. Nor should your walls.”
C0rian, which is made out of acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate, can be quickly carved into an infinite number of shapes using a CNC machine and other fabrication techniques. Crucially, it can also be cut with such precision that Romano can design each wall so that its pieces interlock perfectly, like giant puzzle pieces, to cover surfaces of any size without seams.
“The installation process is embedded into the design,” he explains. “Our patent pending software is linked with low level robotics, like CNC machines . . . this enables us to offer unlimited scale and organized complexity without any visible seams.”
From showers to living rooms to swimming pools to corporate headquarters, his walls look like bas reliefs that have been meticulously carved from colossal limestone rocks—except that Corian requires no painting, sanding, or grout, like traditional stone does. It also resists erosion better than other materials, and when it is pigmented, the color never fades since it’s uniform throughout the volume. Since the material is UV resistant and impervious to mold or bacteria, you can install them anywhere—take the Great Wave carving above, which is a 450-square-foot wall that was installed in an indoor pool.
Compared to many wall coverings, these pieces don’t come cheap. Romano says his walls cost about $35 per square foot when they’re simply white (the Great Wave piece cost nearly $16,000). The largest he has created is a massive, 60-foot-high wall for Biolegend, a biotechnology company in San Diego. Clearly, for some clients, it’s a statement piece worth paying for.