Lime plaster (also known as Venetian plaster) stands the test of time as one of the world’s most beautiful and technically advanced decorative finishes, inspiring a wealth of variety through its many different designs. The earthy tones, modern finishes and enduring qualities of these products make them fan favourites amongst many designers, applicators and everyday people who value a touch of luxury in their living space.
With the rise of demand comes an increase in supply. In today’s modern environment, it’s become all too easy for brands to piggyback off trends and roll out their replicas from mass production lines. So what is it that makes for a uniquely personal experience in the ever-growing decorative finishes industry?
We sat down with our general manager and the face of Calce Company, Aronne Mastroianni, to find out.
Calce Company: Tell us about the journey so far.
Aronne Mastroianni: It started in 2016, we had a total of ten products on one small stand in a local Bristol Paints store. Since then we’ve grown from that one stand and have two warehouses stocked full of our products, with a much larger range and connections with applicators Australia-wide.
CC: Why do you think Venetian Plaster is popular with both interior designers and everyday people?
AM: To put it simply, it’s just different. Having it in my apartment, I’ve noticed that it’s more insulating, so if you’ve got the aircon on, the cool or warm air seems to be cradled in the room by the lime plaster. Aside from the functionality of it, it’s just aesthetically pleasing and allows people to achieve a look they can’t get with any other product.
CC: What are your personal favourites for finishes and colours in different spaces of the home?
AM: Straight off the bat – I love Marmorino. It’s raw and polished at the same time and just has a really sophisticated feel to it. One of the spaces in the home that has the most potential with lime plaster is the bathroom. If I could only describe the beauty of these finishes in one word, I’d choose ‘seamless.’ They travel from one side of the room to the other and transcend walls like they’re one solid piece, which replaces the clunky look of a traditional bathroom wall with grout lines and stop-start tiles. It becomes one seamless, easy to clean, aesthetic piece that ties the room together perfectly.
For colours, my favourites for any space of the home are off-white, beige and cream. I just think the finishes look beautiful in neutral tones, but if you’re looking for something more dramatic, black always hits right, and we’ve seen some beautiful jobs with brighter colours. At the end of the day, it’s about tinting, colouring and applying the products in a way that agrees with the style the customer is going for.
CC: How would you describe the ‘feel’ of a home with these finishes?
AM: If I can be honest – I know it’s weird – it feels almost seductive. I touch it, I close my eyes and it’s just, I don’t know, it makes you feel elevated. When you run your hands over a wall that’s been applied perfectly, it’s smooth, sleek and sophisticated, and that feeling seeps into the room. My wife has to tell me to stop touching the walls because I can’t walk down my hallway without running my hand down it.
CC: Where do you source your products?
AM: We source our products direct from our manufacturers in Pescara and Venice, Italy. We’ve spent a lot of time studying and approaching the leading manufacturers of premium decorative Italian finishes and rolled the best of them up into one company, so our customers can purchase everything they need in one place with ease.
CC: What’s the difference between Calce Company and other Venetian Plaster suppliers?
AM: Our knowledge of decorative finishes goes far beyond our competitors. Tony Thorogood has been a trained painter and renderer for over 30 years, so he has a lot of knowledge and practice with the products. I’ve grown up in a paint store, my dad was a painter and I’ve flown to Italy to learn all about the properties and application of each product.
Our understanding of the systems is extremely sound, and our main focus is the customer. Our goal as a distributor is to create work and build relationships with applicators as opposed to doing the work ourselves, working closely in a tight-knit community with designers and applicators to bring the design vision to life.
CC: How important is the application stage to the end result?
AM: It’s crucial. Without a proper application and understanding of how the product works, the product just won’t come out right. It’s why we invest so much time and energy into making our training courses accessible and comprehensive – we don’t deny products to people without training, but using them without the proper skills and knowledge is a recipe for a ruined product.
CC: What is your vision for Calce Company over the next 5 years?
AM: I’d love to have a Calce Company head office and warehouse in each state, so that applicators all across Australia can have easy access to our products and training services, have a point to form connections with other applicators and just find everything they need under one roof.
I want our customers to walk into our stores and feel like they’re a part of the family and like we’re sharing their journey with them – from selection, to application and final result. It’s the Calce Company difference to provide this personalised experience and form long-term relationships with our customers, whether they’re applicators, homeowners or designers.