Urmal – The Family Stone

This is our tribute to Urmal – a family owned marble factory based in Sintra, and to Pedro.

Urmal began operating in the 1940’s being one the first companies in Portugal extracting and transforming ornamental stones for the real estate sector. For more then 50 years they have also been responsible for introducing Portuguese stones to foreign markets. Either by exporting those stones, or by winning commissions in foreign architectural projects proposing Portuguese stones.

The manufacture of ornamental stone is a heavy operation in every possible sense – heavy in human resources and spatial requirements; the stones themselves are everything but light-weight; the machinery involved in the transformation of stone is big and loud; and tooling is expensive! Adding up to all this, the transformation of stone is a rather slow, and dusty!, process with many unpredictable situations along the way – for example, one can never be 100% certain about the inside of a stone block before cutting it open. And yes, stone breaks! Never to forget is the environmental impact of stone extraction, stone ruble and shipping stone around the world.

This being said, at a first glance the use of ornamental stones would hardly suit Ghome. However, the fact that we have beautiful stones in Portugal, as well as companies that know very well how to transform and take the most out of it, made a strong case for it. Pedro Urmal, one of the cousins now running the company, made all the difference in making it possible for us to develop products in stone. He received our ideas well, and since day one Pedro was available to guide us into the world of stone providing all the information necessary to guide our strict development criteria. He was also diligent in making possible that a busy factory geared up for transforming stone to be used on buildings, could also produce things that could fit in the palm of our hands. We like to think that we were good listeners to all that Pedro was teaching us, but we know that without him our products Centro, Cafe, Tigela and Base would have never seen the light of day.

It would have made all the difference to have a picture of Pedro – the face of this story. But whenever we’ve asked him for a photo, and we’ve asked many times, he always giggled and said – “really? I don’t look very good on photos, but I’ll send you one by email, no worries.” Many emails keep on coming from him, but we are still waiting for that photo…

Thank you Pedro!