Malachite is having a mega moment.
The intriguing, swirling pattern characteristic of the semiprecious stone and synonymous with a particular shade of deep green is cool and glam. It stars on the powder room wall of Nate Berkus' place in the November issue of Architectural Digest. On a chair gracing the cover of Amanda Nisbet's new book, "Dazzling Design" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). It was all over the fall furniture market in High Point, N.C. On upholstery. On case goods. On rugs. On napkins and place mats. Readers of the online magazine Lonny (lonny.com) got a delicious treat with the September issue and a whopping 30-page spread featuring the Beverly Hills, Calif., estate of the late Tony Duquette. The iconic designer never was shy about color or pattern, and malachite was one of his faves — on walls, upholstery, rugs, as well as accessories. His signature malachite fabric "Gemstone," is now part of a collection licensed by designer Jim Thompson.
And, of course, the Milanese trompe l'oeuil master Piero Fornasetti used the pattern on furnishings (a trumeau secretary designed with Gio Ponti still is available through Palazzetti for $32,400). Vintage Fornasetti malachite porcelain plates pop up from time to time on 1st Dibs. Malachite elegantly covers the tome on Fornasetti called "The Complete Universe" (Rizzoli).
Berkus long has been a fan. "I've had a hunk of malachite sitting atop a stack of books in my living room for years. I love that stone, its smooth touch, the depth. Everyone notices it." So the minute he spotted a malachite paper (a 1955 Fornasetti pattern reproduced by Cole & Son), "I knew it needed to land somewhere in my New York apartment. Turns out it was the perfect finish for my downstairs powder room."
"It's bold, intense," says Chicago designer Edyta Czajkowska. "I love classic silhouettes and patterns, but I also love modern. This pattern lends itself to both."
Like other jewel tones, malachite is rich. Feng shui devotees will cite its energy, health and wealth perks. It's said to be a talisman against the evil eye. Sherle Wagner, the luxe bath hardware manufacturer, includes real malachite in its line: bath faucets, wastebaskets, soap dishes, even counter tops.
Used modestly, the malachite pattern can wow a quiet interior. A single accent piece, such as an upholstered chair, especially stands out against a creamy white frame (at Wesley Hall and Century, both shown with DwellStudio's Malakos fabric from Robert Allen, which is available at Calico Corners.) Or teamed smartly with Lucite, the pattern takes on a modern vibe on a drawer on a Century side table.
A small dose of malachite in a throw rug from Tozai Home is a kick. Sleep on it with bedding from Hutton Wilkinson at HSN. Or bring the jewel tones to the table with place mats or napkins from Dransfield & Ross. Opt for an elegant accessory such as a lidded candle from L'Objet (available at Neiman Marcus) in Limoges with 24-karat gold trim. Or try a chunk of malachite-patterned soap at scentsandsprays.com.
Some surprising suggestions for "team-with" hues come from the design blog of Tory Burch, whose fall line is full of malachite hues. She's talking fashion, but the advice transcends to furnishings: "It's a versatile accent against navy, black, gold, camel, purple and winter white."
If you're still on the fence, perhaps you might treat your nails to a touch of the gem color.
Wherever that malachite lands, someone's bound to be green with envy.