PROPERTY
Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

The wonders of soapstone

Sparq SP72-B (Medium)Serving Slab, medium

Soapstone is often overlooked in the interiors’ world and frequently takes a backseat to the more glamorous marble and granite. One company, SPARQ home, however, is rapidly altering the perception of this chalky textured stone by marketing collections of barware, tableware and cookware crafted entirely from soapstone, giving this unusual material its own time in the limelight, Emily Bird finds out more.



With a name derived from its ‘soapy’ soft feel, soapstone has been mined for thousands of years and is formed at convergent plate boundaries where the earth’s crust is exposed to constant heat and direct pressure. Traditionally used in the creation of handmade ornaments, and even gravestones, thanks to the stone’s easy-to-carve properties, its modern uses include kitchen construction. It is still used to create intricately carved sculptures to this day.

Established by Steven Chavez and Justin English, SPARQ home was formed when the founders discovered the wastage left from soapstone quarries around the world.

Sparq Whisky Spheres - Set of 2 SP79 90427 (2) (Medium)Sparq Whiskey Spheres, set of two

The soft, carvable quality of the rock is a negative aspect in the mining stages as, when drilled, soapstone breaks into smaller pieces often too small for many of the industries that require it.

On learning of the extensive waste of this undervalued and incredibly useful material, Steven and Justin set about transforming the discarded stone into beautiful and impeccably stylish accessories for the home.

Tequila_Pour-enviro (Medium)Tequila Shooters, set of four

Boasting a host of beneficial properties, soapstone is one of the best natural materials for conducting and maintaining temperatures, making it fantastic in the making of serveware and barware. Both non-porous and non-absorbent, it is ideal for serving food as it will not stain and the stone’s resistance to acids and alkalis also make it a wonderful material for drinking vessels.

Physical properties of soapstone
Soapstone is composed primarily of talc (where the powder comes from) and shares many physical properties with that mineral. These properties make soapstone valuable for many different uses. The stone’s physical properties include:
• soft and very easy to carve
• non porous
• non absorbent
• low electrical conductivity
• heat resistant
• high specific heat capacity
• resistant to acids and alkalis

Soapstone is a rock and its mineral composition can vary. Its composition depends upon the parent rock material and the temperature/pressure conditions of its metamorphic environment. As a result, the physical properties of the soapstone can vary from quarry to quarry and even within a single rock unit.

SPARQ home has developed a wide collection of home accessories to take advantage of soapstone’s quality of retaining both cool and hot temperatures with ease. From oven-to-table platters to pizza stones and serving slabs, keeping meals warm at dinner parties is a simple task, and each piece can be cooled to transform the items into serveware for chilled cheeses, charcuterie and desserts.

Whiskey rocks, increasingly gaining in popularity as a way to chill drinks without watering them down, are also available, with the soapstone holding the cold temperature much longer than other forms of ice replacement. Whilst the classic square rock shapes are available in both large and small sizes, whiskey spheres can also be found which offer a design-led addition to a favourite cocktail.

SPARQ home’s collection is now available at Amara.
Website: www.amara.com and www.store.sparqhome.com

Profile: SPARQ home
Originally, SPARQ home was founded on a mission to preserve nature’s soapstone quarries across the globe. In most quarries, up to eighty per cent of all soapstone mined is deemed waste or scrap material. For businesses such as kitchen construction, large, flawless slabs of soapstone are hard to come by with each cut of stone evaluated and claimed as scrap or useful.

When making large cuts of stone, the scrap far outweighs the useful slabs. As such, these blocks of scrap stone are left behind, lining the roads of the quarries. From an aesthetic view, the blocks of stone destroy the landscape of the quarries and from a pure environmental angle, these blocks are left to die, wasted on the roadside.

In an effort to regain control of soapstone waste, and make useful a stone that has so much to offer, founders Steven Chavez and Justin English have set out to clean up the disastrous quarries worldwide and find a purpose for the discarded soapstone. This is where SPARQ home was born as Steven and Justin turned to the stone’s natural properties of maintaining warm and cool temperatures.

Building on the success of the company’s soapstone product line, Steven and Justin expanded into stainless steel, bringing the same level of sophisticated design and usefulness to entertaining ware.

Penthouse in the Pavilion

Morpheus_Pavilion_Living Area 3

Leading design house Morpheus London is renowned for creating exceptional properties in the world’s most desirable locations, one of which is The Penthouse at the Pavilion development in St John’s Wood. They shared their thoughts on this, one of their favourite projects, with Jane Pople.


Photos copyright: Peter Atkinson

With over 20 years’ experience in the luxury sector, Morpheus’ passion for design excellence and attention to detail has delivered pretty incredible results. The company has designed some of the most luxurious properties in the world, including projects in Singapore, Courchevel and Monte Carlo. This particular project in St John’s Wood had its own challenges, as they all do.
No set brief meant the owner was happy to follow Morpheus’ lead, trusting them to deliver a luxurious feel without over embellishment or feeling over the top. The preference was for rich, sumptuous materials, including leathers and silks, but with a desire for a bright overall look. Thoughtful layout and a stipulation for a dedicated study and ample storage options were a necessity. Given these criteria, the company was able to design bespoke furniture and joinery items, but above all it was essential the stunning views were maintained and enhanced for the cricket-loving owner.
Morpheus_Pavilion_Glass box
Creation/planning process
Morpheus worked through detailed design stages with the client before progressing through full project management. In addition to the design, this included co-ordination with structural engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, dealing with building management, all landlord agreements and building control.

This was a perfect project for the team as the client gave absolute trust; so much so that the client’s wife didn’t actually see the property until the day before handover.
Morpheus_Pavilion_Hallway
Favourite room/part of the project
The views from this apartment are wonderful. Morpheus’ favourite part was travelling up to the penthouse in the lift, turning to enter the main reception and being greeted by an expanse of light flooding the room with a huge vista across the famous cricket ground. As the client loved cricket, changes were incorporated to improve layout and dramatically enhance these views. The views over Lords Cricket Ground are completely uninterrupted and can be seen from the penthouse’s 25 metre terrace, as well as from the main reception room, dining area and study.

The penthouse is fortunate to have its own private, tranquil garden to the rear of the property, with panoramic views of the London skyline, and is a peaceful haven amidst the bustle of the city.
MorpheusLondon_StJohnsWood_Study
As on all of its projects, Morpheus designed beautiful items of furniture and joinery, including the Thomas James’ entrance hallway console and the Thomas James’ dining table, some of the stand out items of furniture in the apartment. Design details include the fine brass inlay detailing within the fitted joinery and door details. These details incorporate a common thread carried throughout the apartment.
Morpheus_Pavillion_SJW_DiningTable
A favourite room is the master bathroom. The rear wall of the bathroom is overlaid in book match marble with the vanity unit, complete with double basins, bespoke designed in a soft, fluid, concave style. Wall mounted taps add to the sleek and minimal look, whilst the large shower area has the showerhead recessed into the ceiling. Lighting throughout the bathroom is subtle and warm, in particular with the back lit mirror and cove lighting over the bath area which causes warm light to wash downwards over the marble.
Morpheus_Pavilion_Living Space
Project challenges
There were mechanical issues and having to upgrade or introduce new technology into the penthouse, such as audiovisual systems.

The logistics of transporting all of the joinery and certain items of furniture up into the penthouse were interesting at times. The design had to be considered to ensure everything could be installed and fitted. Whilst the penthouse has its own private lift access, it was not large enough to accommodate the sofas, and so each of these had to be carried up eleven flights of stairs!

Penthouse Apartment, The Pavilion, St Johns Wood, London
Floor area: 3,600 square feet
Project time taken: ten months
Websites: www.morpheuslondon.com and www.amara.com.

About Jane Pople
Jane Pople has over five years experience writing about interiors and the design industry, favouring emerging designers and new talent. This article first appeared in The Lux Pad, www.amara.com/luxpad.