everal years back, I was visiting with a client about their owner’s bathroom in a new Global Express XRS, during the design phase. When we began discussing potential materials for counter surfaces, I could see she wasn’t crazy about any of the samples I had brought along (mostly granites). But a small lightbulb went on and with no sample to support...I blurted the following question.
“Do you by chance like Mother of Pearl?”
She was taking a sip of her tea, but I could see her eyebrows raise. After swallowing, she replied...
“Who doesn’t like Mother of Pearl!?
Needless to say, we wound up cladding every horizontal counter-surface in the bathroom with M.O.P. and she was truly ecstatic when the aircraft delivered! But her reply has resonated with me ever since – because, for the most part, it’s hard to find somebody that doesn’t like pearl. It’s a much less subjective material than marbles, granites, or other stones where the organic pattern options are as endless as a railroad track. They’re entirely subjective. That’s not to say that MOP is right for every space, because it’s not necessarily. But often the playful luminosity and monochromatic qualities of Mother of Pearl are a wonderful, and often overlooked option because they don’t generally compete with other materials in the room. It’s a truly amazing organic material that can lend spectacular results in the hands of a talented designer.
Late last year, Rick and I had the pleasure of sitting down with Simon Powell and discussing his a rather unique company based in Chipping Campden near Stratford upon Avon, (UK) – otherwise known as the former stomping grounds of one William Shakespeare.
Siminetti’s unique focus is on one thing...and one thing only; Mother of Pearl, and to my knowledge, no other company in the world offers more varietals and custom applications. Their client roster reads like the editorial manifest of Architectural Digest or Wallpaper, and their projects range from Superyachts, to high-end Hospitality, to Private Residences...and of course to Private Aircraft.
But this company goes way beyond simply sourcing fine mother or pearl and laying it onto substraights. They have created literally hundreds of unique, proprietary patterns – geometric interlacing designs with varying color hues combined with delicate inlays – each a work of art and each ‘hand-pieced’.
In my conversation with Mr. Powell, (CEO) and Ms. Laidlaw-Smith, I was taken through a unique process that starts with the sourcing of both Freshwater and Saltwater Pearl. The former is sourced from shells that are grown expressly for the natural Freshwater Pearl industry. The shells become a biproduct which Siminetti sources directly from the farms in Asia; the world’s largest producer of Freshwater Pearls, producing some 1,500 metric tons per year. And it’s all fully sustainable. Rather than simply discarding the shells from production after harvesting the pearls themselves, Siminetti sources the shells in conjunction with its partners and are fully utilized to form their shell mosaics and decorative panels. Nothing is ever depleted, and the cycle simply continues without waste or disruption.
Pictured in the Interior image above.
Their Saltwater Pearl is sourced from Pacific communities who depend on sustainable relationships with the ocean lagoons in which they farm pearls or harvest them as a food source. Their suppliers have for generations respected the origin, growth and delicate nature of these shells. Harvesting is done in line with local government fishery laws and a constant communication with their suppliers ensure they are informed and accountable.
But it’s the process and the breadth of flexibility that Siminetti really brings to the table. If you’re a designer considering MOP it’s hard to imagine having a source with more options to support your vision – or that of your customer’s. When asked about former challenges...specs that at the time, were difficult or impossible to achieve, Mr. Powell replied...
When we run into a barrier or impasse...we all sit down and figure a way of solving the issue. There is always a solution, and we enjoy the process of working through challenges.
- Mr. Simon Powell
“One such former challenge” he describes “was a problem utilizing large panels of our dry seamed (no grout) mosaics inside shower enclosers. Because our pearl tiles are only 2 mm thick and not otherwise bonded to each other, it allowed moisture to seep behind, which would allow mildew and other issues – meaning it negating our being able fulfill such requirements to those clients. But since that time, we have developed Feature Wall Panels that employ honeycomb sub-straights and water-resistant barriers. We now bond the 2mm mosaic on top, forming the visible surface of a single cohesive buildup, ready to install. It’s proven an excellent solution.”
Ms. Laidlaw-Smith explained they can also apply their mosaics and Feature Wall Panels to ‘curved’ surfaces as well, both outward and inverted, within reasonable radius limitations, affording a wide array of design possibilities and substraight applications.
Siminetti offers two basic types of edge joining with their Feature Wall Panels. The first is with metallic edging trims and produces a uniform look between each surface panel. The other, called Alignment is a smooth butt joint with no bonding and with each panel pattern matched to ensure continuity. Each achieves a different look of course; the edging trims rendering a more traditional look and the Alignment offering a cleaner, modern appearance. Beyond that, the options are almost endless with literally dozens of styles and patterns to choose – not to mention custom requirements, which the company welcomes.
Siminetti is an SBID 2021 Design Award recipient.
For more info, vist: siminetti.com