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my love affair with stone

Damian Cudmore, true stone design founder

While restoring sandstone buildings during the years, I developed a love for a certain era of building, especially the simple craft of 19th century sandstone cottages in the inner suburbs of Sydney.

Often, I would think: “Wow, I wish we could build like this now”.

Because no-one does.

But why not?

Decades ago I designed my model loveshack and have penned these ‘rock ramblings’ to open a discussion about why – not why not. If you feel inclined, please add your thoughts to the comments below this post.

Why build a house in stone?


– there is nothing quite like the feeling inside these old stone spaces

– masonry has great thermal properties

– a highly efficient wood burning oven makes sense for a hundred good reasons

– harvesting of water and solar energy makes sense for a thousand good reasons, including the comfort of a hot off-grid bath

– the minimalism required to sleep in a small building feeds and frees the soul, especially when a building is sited overlooking a eucalyptus garden

For a long time I have dreamed of crafting one beautiful stone room.

holding a hand craft high

feels sometimes lonely

Like a section left behind of a distant band.

It doesn’t quite fit into a plastic world.

It dreams of the day when the symphony gathers, when presently distant compositions of the past are married to a bright, conscious and vibrant future, in one beautifully-crafted stone room.

I believe that dreams can come true.

already true, already old

forever new

Mine is a dream of things of wood and stone becoming – and coming to a paddock near you.

Good design is a expression of many things, natural and created.

Design is not a word.

It is at least a sentence or a story, perhaps even a poem, or a song.

Certainly a verse of some silence.

sandstone is an element of the natural earth

and a foundation of our created past

Sandstone holds our rivers, bays, beaches and lakes.

And the gums that gather there to drink.

But it also cradles the stories of our land’s original humans in tales of whales, news of emus and places to hunt and eat.

Sandstone holds our leg irons, our stately manors, places of worship and banks of treasure, of dollars and craft, and places to drink, eat, play and rest.

It holds a library of two centuries of just the white stories, much of our pain, prayer, art and delight.

And a whole civilisation of dreaming before and beyond, deep in time, that we have not yet quarried, by hand or by heart.

Which of these can be stretched?

a stone?an image?an experience?a price?our imaginations?

Four out of five ain’t bad.

To contain stone to the status of a product in a brochure is to deny, perhaps insult, a cultural event.

Respect the rock.

Upon it, and with it and within it, we may build many dreams.

May your dreams, especially the good ones, come true. true stone.

If you want your design to speak listen to the stones that are part.

Weave all fabrics through.

my dream is coming true

“with enough heart serenity builds a castle just where she standswhere strong heart leads skilled hands”

Design is all about decisions, informed human-centred decisions.

This is one of the most important concepts I have grasped in my 25+ years working as a stone mason and designer, after studies in architecture, sociology, theatre and construction.

Your architect, your ideal materials – and the artisans you invite to craft them –
are profoundly important decisions, when investing in a space intended to be experienced.

Some stone craftsmen have access to sources of golden Sydney ‘yellow-block’ and craft it to its optimal architectural value, creating walls that, in turn, create articulate spatial experiences.

the work that engages me most?

Finding a solution to multiple architectural challenges with one elegant stone detail.

Restoration work on heritage buildings from 19th century Sydney has inspired and informed me with craft lessons drawn from shared cultural inheritance.

For me, stone masonry is about infusing traditional techniques into contemporary design on the way to making a design ‘sing’.

Utilising a mix of texture and craft options, while maintaining a careful detailing logic, our intention is to serve the broader architectural intention of a design to optimal effect.

true stone design is my way of bringing the narrative of stone into the structural expressions of today’s modern constructions.

A 5-step detailing process ensures that we source and craft the best detail options, both functionally and aesthetically, to deliver maximum value for the budget invested in stone.

My connection with nature is strong and is reflected also in a love for the ocean and the eucalypt laden bushland that surrounds my city of Sydney, built on sandstone.

sandstone is more than a building element

Long before it was the ‘finish’ of choice for modern pools, terraces, retaining and ‘feature’ walls, sandstone was an integral piece of structural and cultural fabric of the ‘sandstone city’.

Stone is part of the vocabulary of the architecture that Sydney was built upon – a bass beat in the song of Sydney the place.

Held in hand, mind and heart this grainy instrument has also been heard singing in created space.

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