Beno Ogrin Stonemasonry

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For Beno Ogrin stonemasonry was a chance encounter, something he did not think about before he started working at the stonemason’s workshop Marmor Jezeršek in Verd near Vrhnika when he was 17. At the workshop he was given the opportunity to make something for himself in the afterhours, something for which he is still very grateful to his boss Marko Jezeršek, as it was this that inspired his enthusiasm for stonemasonry. He would spend more and more time at the workshop, and after five years, when he had learned enough, he passed the craftsman’s exam for master stonemason.

It was Beno Ogrin’s grandfather, a joiner, who first evoked his interest in manual work. As a child there was nothing he enjoyed more than taking over his grandfather's workshop as soon as the old man took his rest after lunch, and the little man could explore the materials at hand without distractions. “It’s when you destroy a material or when something you didn't want to do happens to it, that's when you really get to know it. You learn how far it can go.”

After 13 years at the workshop in Verd he decided to open his own, which he has been running for 12 years now.

Beno Ogrin’s preferred choice of material is Slovenian stone, Repen being his favourite type. He likes to go to Italy to buy his stone as well, as Italians have wonderful galleries showcasing stones from all over the world. For Beno, natural stone is superior in that it ages well, evoking the passage of time with its rich patina. “We pull the stone from the mountain and it has these deviations in the structure, colour, has some cracks…”, everything that inspires him.
Some 30 percent of Beno’s work is done by machine, the rest is manual. The time for manufacture differs from product to product. A headstone, for example, takes five days of work. It starts by selecting a stone in the quarry and having it cut. The stone is brought to the workshop and all of the pieces finished, after which he needs another day for mounting. A countertop requires two-and-a-half days — a morning to make the templates, followed by cutting, finishing and installing them.
He likes to work with architects and designers. He starts by proposing a stone that is affordable, easy to supply and good to work with. He has to consider the practical aspects, whereas the designer has to think about the concept, and their collaboration is what ensures the end-product will be good. With stone being such an enduring material, a product that has been carefully designed and produced can last forever.

Beno Ogrin has been making headstones for 12 years, working with a landscape architect Katarina Mrzelj. The common thread of their work are massive pieces of Slovenian stone that blend well with the environment. In addition to the stone, Katarina is also in charge of the planting. “These headstones we make really do look like miniature gardens.”
Six years ago he designed the Umami garden kitchen composed of a grill, worktop and a simple sink with a tap. It is made entirely of natural stone and stainless steel.
In addition to the garden kitchen and headstones his main products include components and equipment for interiors (floors, kitchen cou-nters, bathrooms, stairs and similar) and garden arrangements. He also enjoys a challenge, such as stone discs for bottle caps that he designed for the company Equa, a series of vases for German designer Anna Badur, and a timepiece he is designing with Slovenian designers Klara Zalokar and Klemen Zupančič, showing how short a human life is compared to the time it takes for stone to develop, something they conceived for the BIO 24 biennial of design. He is a keen supporter of various collaborations and wants to see more joint projects between stonemasons and designers.