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Coverings 2011: Exhibitors report business, optimism, traffic on the rise

LAS VEGAS—For a show making its Las Vegas debut—a month earlier than past events, six weeks after Surfaces and just four weeks following Cevisama in Spain—Coverings, the third largest tile show in the world, held its own.

More than 1,000 exhibitors comprised a show floor that was crowded with attendees— proof positive that Coverings is a reservoir of the world’s lead- ing resources for tile and stone, said Jennifer Hoff, president of the events division of National Trade Productions, which runs Coverings. Following day two of the four-day event, she said attendance was “on track with where we were last [year]. We’ve attracted many new attendees from the West Coast and the Mountain region.”

Exhibitors seemed to back up Hoff’s sentiments. For example, Dave Bouchard, marketing manager for Italy-based Emil Ceramica, said the company sold a dozen containers before the first day was half over. “Everyone’s come out in full force, which is a pleasant surprise. Even after Surfaces, people were willing to come back to Vegas, and we’re seeing so many architects and interior designers. It seems the world is ready to spend money again.”

Kevin Mashia of Hastings Tile & Bath also commented on the buzz and vitality of the show. “It looks like people’s outlook on the economy has taken a positive turn. There’s a great crowd here; everyone’s upbeat and happy to be here.”

It was the same at Florida Tile, where Sean Cilona, marketing director, said traffic was exceptionally strong two hours into the show. “The choice of Las Vegas is good because everyone loves to come here.”

Aside from the traffic and optimism, companies were doing business, which may not have been the case in recent years. Sam Biondo, national training technical consultant for Mapei, referred to traffic flow as consistent. “The tile and stone industry is on the cusp of taking off again. There’s been a lot of business done here.”

Even the show’s educational seminars and presentations attracted large audiences as several of the opening-day conference sessions were filled to capacity. In fact, many actually experienced standing room only crowds.

Coverings once again featured an international flavor, with exhibitors from the U.S., Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, China and about 50 other countries showing their wares. The popular trends of the day continued with larger formats, bolder colors, wood looks, rectangular sizes, metal, glass, mosaics, thin tiles and more antimicrobial/environmentally friendly choices than ever before. As examples:

Crossville

The company received a very warm response to Mixology, a new metal line crafted to replicate cast metal sculptural pieces as affordable and earth-friendly tile. Each tile, which will be avail- able later this spring, contains a minimum of 50% post-consumer recycled content, making the line not only an attractive choice but the responsible choice for the environment, noted Laurie Lyza, director of marketing. Seven field tile designs in two sizes—4 x 4 and 6 x 6—plus 10 trim options and two random mosaics are available in four finishes, providing 98 pieces to mix and match for commercial or residential installations.

“One of the most exciting things we’re doing to demo the versatility of our new metal program is a demo version of the Mixology and Match design tool that is now up for preview at crossvilleinc.com/mixology,” Lyza said. “It allows designers, homeowners or whomever to go online, get their own work space where they can drag and draw any of the tiles together and make a design installation.”

Florida Tile

Three new collections created a buzz with Berkshire as the star of the show. Made to mimic hard- wood with colors specific to the U.S. market, the glazed porcelain collection was created by way of the mill’s high definition printing technology. It comes in five colors and various sizes, including the ever popular 6 x 24.

Another popular introduction for Florida Tile was Grandeur, a polished/rectified offering that features a marble look. The line is available in four colors and three sizes. “It’s the first time we’ve done the combination of digital printing and polishing process,” Cilona said. “It’s the top-of-the-line premium product for us.”

The last of the trio was Stellar, a “true thru-body porcelain tile,” he said. Stellar is avail- able in four colors and three sizes: 12×24, 18×18 and 24×24.

Interstyle

Offerings included products made of a ceramic glass composite, a combination of post- consumer waste glass and clay. “Everything we sell we make made to order,” said Ken McGregor, vice president of sales. “Our new Earthenglass products are relatively distinctive in the marketplace today.”

Created in the tradition of ceramic tile with one unique twist, these tiles are made from “earthenglass” using a blend of recycled glass and regionally sourced clay. “This full-bodied tile is available in 15 earth tones using five colors in three shades to encourage blending of this natural palette,” he explained.

Also creating a buzz at Coverings was Stratus Venetian, an “inspired collection of decorative prints fused on glass tile for residential floor and wall applications.” All patterns are available as 12 x 12 and 16 x 16 tiles. Custom sizes, patterns and colors are available on request.

Mediterranea

Attendees were asked to discover the look of authentic hard- wood flooring in its American Naturals collection of glazed porcelain tiles produced with Dynamic HD Imaging, a process exclusive to Mediterranea. “Designed by selecting the finest range of natural color tones and shading variations found in hardwood flooring planks, American Naturals has been produced in true-to-life color and surface detail. Like many of our new series, the wood-look product features our advanced digital inkjet printing in high- performance, glazed porcelain tiles that are easy to clean and maintain when installed,” said Paul Young, general manager.

Made in the USA with 36% recycled content, American Naturals has been produced for U.S. distribution to architects, interior designers or residential home builders in projects seeking LEED certification. The collection comes in five colors.

StonePeak

The newest collections include Raja, Materia and TheStandard. “They were meant to satisfy a range of tastes and employ technology exclusive to StonePeak: advanced ink jet technology, full-body combined with ink jet and a new polishing technique— Satinato,” said company CEO Rodolfo Panisi. “Stone- Peak is the only American company to produce porcelain tile using these new technologies.”

Raja is engineered to “inspire the exotic slate found in the ancient quarries of India,” he said. The variation in colors and texture found in Raja are said to interpret even the smallest details of the quarried slate.

Classic meets contemporary in Materia 3D, a collection designed for the A&D community. “Materia 3D embodies the new trends in design using the latest technologies from StonePeak— full-body technology combined with ink jet,” Panisi said.

Finally, TheStandard brings new life to neutrals, he noted. The four shades ranging from creme to dark gray are designed to fit every space. TheStandard comes in four colors and two finishes, honed and Satinato, the company’s exclusive polishing technique.

-Louis Iannaco

(Editor’s note: Coming soon, coverage will be provided on exhibitors from outside the U.S., including those from Spain, Italy and Mexico).