Connecting with Natural Stone
Andreas and Naomi Kunert, co-founders of Ancient Art of Stone, know they don’t easily fit into one category. Together they create one-of-a-kind art installations using natural stone, crystals, and bronze.
“We’re not stonemasons, we’re not necessarily sculptors, and we’re not mosaicists. Yet we use all of their skill sets,” Andreas says.
Andreas and Naomi are artists, first and foremost. It’s not unusual for their art pieces to be 25’ tall. An upcoming project will include a 900-foot mosaic wall, with 20 feet surrounding it and large doorways with 350 ton standing stones that one can walk through.
“From a megalithic point of view, it’s very moving and very to the point,” Andreas adds.
Listening to clients and to the stone
Their clients don’t always know what they’re looking for at first. While this approach can be challenging for some people, for artists like Naomi and Andreas, it’s an opportunity to develop a design that is 100% personalized for their clients.
Their most recent client approached them to design a piece to add to their home, which was on 40 acres of land. They were referred by their landscape architect to create a focal point at a roundabout leading up to their home down the long driveway. When they first met with the client, it was clear the client didn’t have a design in mind. In fact, the client had no idea what to suggest; no idea of height, scale, or colors. So Naomi and Andreas came back to their studio and leaned into their process by channeling who they met and hearing what was shared.
“What did they tell us about their life? What was important to them?” Naomi asks.
The discussion moved from what they felt to what might be important. Family and community seemed important. What Andreas noticed from their initial meeting was the couple was the nucleus of a larger family and they cared about the people in their community.
“We developed this design of a taller stone standing together, which represents them, husband and wife, and then a sphere, emerging from the two stones, which represents this family and this caring community,” Andreas says.
When presented with the design, the client loved it without any edits.
Choosing the right stones
Years of experience have taught Naomi and Andreas what’s possible and working with talented engineers has allowed them to create award-worthy projects for their residential and commercial clients.
The design is one part of the equation. Another is finding the right stones for each project. Those stones come from a variety of places. While they source some stones in their travels, some come directly from the client. In one instance, Naomi recalls a client whose father collected arrowheads that he found on his land. Those pieces were incorporated into a fireplace design as a way to honor their father. Those types of scenarios aren’t uncommon.
“I think it does depend also on the client, and what their needs are as part of that listening and as part of my interest in health and healing,” Naomi says. “So through that, listening and getting to know them, there are certain stones that will kind of come more forward in my mind.”
Connections to the ancient art of natural stone used in projects are important to Andreas and Naomi. When it comes to the philosophy of their work, Naomi says it’s wise to look at the ancient ways natural stone has been part of all of creation. For Andreas, whatever they build, they build it with longevity in mind and what they create will outlast our generation and generations to come.
Commissioned designs are completed in their studio in Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and then shipped to the client’s location. It’s not uncommon for a client to become emotionally moved once they see a piece in real life. That’s when Naomi knows the spirit of the stone is speaking to them. Once they’re in front of the artwork, and allow the piece to speak to them, it moves them in a way that cannot be explained.
One project, two minds
Clients love getting the opportunity to work with both Andreas and Naomi. “I think that’s very unique to us, working together as a couple,” Andreas says. “Naomi has an amazing ability to tune into people. When we meet a new client, she can really zero in on who they are and ask them things that stop them in their tracks, makes them think. And ultimately, when the artwork is produced, and it happens every time, they’re very moved; that this is very specific to them. And this pretty much Naomi initially tuning into them. And it is the two of us, that’s really important.”