Design

How Arca Is Revolutionizing the World of Natural Stone

Over its 21 years, the forward-thinking company has become a global leader known for helping artists, architects and designers to make their creative dreams come true. Now, the future is bright, and more environmentally friendly.

Elizabeth Fazzare

Photography by Camilo Rios

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José Fernandez and Gerardo Cortina Wiechers of Grupo Arca.

When it comes to natural stone, ceramic, tile and wood, sustainability often takes a backseat to aesthetics. Harvesting such materials alone is carbon consuming, but when factoring in travel from remote quarry or factory to project site, the environmental footprint can be daunting. In today’s consumer climate, as consciousness is on the rise and many such companies are scrambling to catch up, Arca is far ahead of the zeitgeist. Arca stands apart not only in its green commitments, but in quality, service and its ethos to put people (and the planet) above all.

“At its core, Arca is a problem-solver,” says CEO Gerardo Cortina Wiechers, who founded the company 21 years ago when he was just 15 years old. It was born out of his upbringing: spending summers working with his grandfather, he saw dismal service and a lack of innovation from the quarries and suppliers outside of Mexico City where stone was sourced for their construction jobs. He vowed to make that experience a better one, and over the last two decades has revolutionized the stone industry.

The Grupo Arca Wynwood showroom in Miami.

“Natural stone is a material where there is a lot of variation; we’re a company whose DNA is not just focused on selling but on helping artists, designers and architects solve their problems and achieve their visions,” says Gerardo. With a client, that approach means personal attention and recommendations based on specific project plans, drawings and concepts. For artists, Arca puts forth the best material to achieve a sculpture’s vision and then covers the cost of production. This commitment to attentive, intimate customer service, combined with Arca’s unmatched selection of rare and quality materials has led the company to be the premiere resource for discerning clients.

The 2021 opening of its Esrawe Studio- and Superflex-designed Wynwood, Miami showroom furthered their international expansion, with Arca now firmly situated in the United States, Europe and Latin America. Arca has become an unparalleled purveyor, working on inspired projects of various scale across the United States—in South Florida, Los Angeles, Manhattan and the Hamptons and beyond. Their incredible stones can be found at luxury residential buildings like the exclusive 2000 Ocean just north of Miami Beach; the Four Seasons hotels in Fort Lauderdale, Mexico City, Tamarindo and Costa Palmas; and an expansion of Barcelona’s El Prat Airport, as well as at W Hotels in Rome, South Beach and Mexico City and The Ritz Carlton in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico City and Bermuda. Impressively, Arca’s current collaborators span an array of designers, architects and developers, including Ashley Stark, Cara Woodhouse, James Perse and Meyer Davis.

“The ability to make the customer feel they are in the quarry or the forest selecting the type of wood or stone they’re seeking makes it a totally different experience—our experience transcends beyond the task of specifying for their kitchen or furniture so they feel the bigger global impact of their selections,” says José Fernandez, CEO of Arca USA. “Because of its complexity, I think this is an industry that has been lagging compared to other home supply companies.” Currently Arca imports about 1,500 materials from over 20 countries to create its highly curated inventory; and, as leaders in the natural stone industry with the largest network of global suppliers, more than 4,000,000 square feet in stock and more than 26,000 clients every year, Arca feels a certain role model obligation to continue its history of innovation. In the immediate future, that means giving its clients a completely transparent look at the embodied carbon in each of its materials on offer. Over the next six months, the global company is rolling out a new website feature that will allow designers to see the entire carbon footprint of a product, from origin to destination and throughout its intended life. It’s information that is only just starting to be offered in the architecture world; again, Arca is certainly ahead of the curve.

But, why wouldn’t they be? When Gerardo says that client experience is the most important aspect of the business, you are right to believe him. When working with natural materials, change is part of the process, whether in the product itself or in approach to it. Arca’s passion for its work means that it is embraced. In fact, the company’s future is in the challenges it takes on. This coming winter, the team will collaborate with a small group of top artists to create an installation at Art Basel Miami Beach. And currently, the brand is working on an experimental Arca house where they are testing the capabilities of volcanic stone and wood in different formats and finishes. It will soon be a place where interested clients can visit and glean a bit of the knowledge that makes Arca so successful and look toward the future of materials. They’re happy to give it away; learning is crucial to better projects, better specs and deeper relationships, and sums Gerardo: “We really are a place where we think the dreams of creatives can come true.”

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