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Al's Column

Al's column graphicVolume 26/number 28 June 10/17, 2013

by FCNews Staff

TILE DEVELOPMENTS: The recent Coverings show proved the economy is, in fact, active again. This year’s event attracted an increased number of architects, designers and specifiers. Attendance increased by 3% as guests were drawn to the latest innovations from more than 950 exhibitors and over 70 free education sessions, many of which offered CEUs. Overall, Coverings 2013 drew about 22,000 attendees, on par with last year’s show. The event featured something for everyone with distributor VIP programs, “Contractor Days,” on-site Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) and the new Stone Zone for fabricators.

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DESIGN TRENDS: Visitors surveyed advances in thin and large-format tiles, in addition to those that mimic other materials, such as wood, with increasing realism. “Coverings has engaged with the community of architects and designers in the Southeast for the past 12 months and we’re pleased they took advantage of all the show has to offer,” said Karin Fendrich, Coverings show director. “We know our exhibitors appreciate the added opportunity of reaching the growing specifier audience.”

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INSTALLATION SHOWCASE: The daily activity at the Installation Design Showcase was of particular interest to designers as well as installers. The showcase matched four Atlanta-based design firms with four of the nation’s finest installation teams. Designers Michael Neiswander and Margaret Nysewander of Atlanta’s ASD designed a unique bar area, called “a conceptual art piece.” It featured red tiles from different Ceramics of Italy manufacturers and was applied by Joel Phinney, senior project manager of Rimrock Design, a Lake City, Fla.-based installer. Hospitality-design veterans Foreman Rogers and Allison Isaacs of Atlanta’s tvsdesign created the feel of a large hotel lobby on a small scale, specifying Plane 5-foot by 10-foot engineered porcelain ceramic wall panels from StonePeak Ceramic. Also included in the design was glass and mirror tiles installed by Rod Owen of C.C. Owen Tile Co., in Jonesboro, Ga.

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CONTRACT EXPANDING: Another recent successful event was NeoCon 2013. According to Byron Morton, vice president of leasing, Merchandise Mart Properties, pre-registration was up 20%; actual attendance is projected to be up 10%; the number of temporary exhibitors on the 7th and 8th floors grew from 460 to 490, and when it comes to permanent space, let’s just say the Mart is flying a “no vacancy” flag. Why? In a word, corporate. This segment has more money on the books than ever before, and many firms are beginning to relocate to new spaces or, at the very least, renovate. New office space leads to more designers, which leads to more business, which leads to more innovation and, therefore, more NeoCon attendees.

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NOT FORGETTING

FALANGA: This was the first NeoCon without former MMPI president Mark Falanga, who stepped down in February. Falanga left to pursue other interests, including real estate holdings outside of Chicago; a winery development he has underway in Michigan, and a patented snowboard-like product he is developing. His last tour de force was negotiating a 15-year agreement with Google to lease 572,000 square feet at the Mart, the largest office lease signed in Chicago in seven years. Falanga was instrumental in building NeoCon to the perch where it now resides, and was always generous with his time to the media, including FCNews. We wish him well.