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Coverings: Positivity abounds as show celebrates silver anniversary

May 12/19; Volume 27/Number 27

By Louis Iannaco

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 9.38.29 AMLas Vegas—Following a highly successful first-time visit to Atlanta last year, Coverings returned to Las Vegas as it celebrated its 25th anniversary April 29–May 2. With more than 900 exhibitors from all over the world showcasing their latest products, the sold out exhibit hall was supplemented by an overflow contingent of more than 75 exhibitors in an outdoor structure set up in front of Las Vegas Convention Center, giving Coverings its biggest show floor since 2008.

As the event drew to a close, show director Karin Fendrich, COO of National Trade Productions (NTP), the management company for Coverings, told FCNews the event was exceeding expectations. “I’m thrilled. This is always a difficult city to come into with this quantity of freight. As a matter of fact, in Atlanta we brought in 8½ tons of freight. This year we have almost 11 tons of product that companies are looking to display and dazzle people with. That says a lot.”

With a goal of drawing more people from the West Coast market, Fendrich noted the feedback she received from exhibitors was positive. “The show floor looks beautiful, and more of the people who registered in advance actually attended than is typical. I believe we’re up 3% over last year, which isn’t big, but coming out West—where we don’t have the base we do in the East—we think that’s great. There are also many first-time attendees here who have been mesmerized by the show. They’re having a very positive experience.”

A highlight receiving high marks from attendees was the debut of the Coverings keynote session program featuring speakers Eric Astrachan, Sheldon Yellen, Robert Bacon and Lauren Rottet. “We also added educational sessions on Monday, the day before the show officially began, which we hadn’t done for many years,” Fendrich explained. “We felt we had so much content that we had to.”

One of the many exhibitors enjoying a strong showing at Coverings was Cooperativa Ceramica d’Imola, an Italy-based ceramic and porcelain tile manufacturer currently celebrating 140 years in business with new porcelain collections from the company’s three brands—LaFaenza Ceramica, Imola Ceramica and Leonardo Ceramica. Part of the LaFaenza Ceramica brand, Lamiera, a large-format floor and wall tile featuring aScreen Shot 2014-06-17 at 9.39.28 AM sheet-metal visual, drew praise inside the company’s booth.

President Tom Smith noted people visiting Ceramica d’Imola’s booth were more optimistic than in years past. “They’re actually purchasing tile, which is very positive. They’re committing to tile and getting into the market, and they’re more confident in spending money in order to accomplish this.”

Two emerging trends drawing attention to the company were its large formats, including a 4 x 4-foot offering. “Providing larger tiles that are more fashion forward than what our competitors have helps us establish our brand,” Smith said. The company’s other major drawing card was its recently launched wall tile collection. “We introduced wall tile at Cersaie last year and, much to our surprise, it’s been very well accepted by the market,” he explained, “specifically in the 5 x 7 and 12 x 24 sizes.”

Spain was also well represented at Coverings once again with major players such as Tau Ceramica leading the way. In step with one of the more recent ceramic trends, the company’s Tapial collection combines both wood and cement effects. The lack of repetition in its graphic design helps make the collection look natural. Tapial is available in one size, 9 x 36, and six muted colors.

At Marrazzi USA, Lounge14 helped capture the attention of attendees. The collection combines Old-World textiles with contemporary colorbody porcelain via 3D digital print technology. Offered in 12 x 24, 18 x 36 and 9 x 36 sizes, Lounge14 mixes the trends of large format and textiles into one series, said Marianne Cox, director of brand marketing, Marazzi USA/Ragno USA. “What’s great about this collection is its decorative options,” she noted. “We have a

2 x 2 mosaic and a linear strip mosaic with a decorative inlay that has six different faces.” Colors include four neutral hues.

Two more hot design trends come together for Marazzi in the Fontanella collection. In line with the mixed media craze, Fontanella is a colorbody porcelain that mixes stone and wood looks. “This has really been the talk of the show for us,” Cox said. “Some pieces are stone, some pieces are wood, some pieces randomly mix sections of each.” The collection features a trio of color choices in 20 x 20 slabs and 18 x 36 planks.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 9.40.11 AMRagno USA’s new introductions include Kenilworth, a mix of sandstone and marble; Villa Medici, a glazed porcelain, retro-inspired brushed cotto surface featuring built-in decos, and Woodstyle, a gentler, more refined 48-inch-long wood look.

Marazzi’s sister company, American Olean, celebrated a triumphant return to Coverings as it made its first appearance at the show in nine years. “For our distributors,” noted Laurie Lyza, brand marketing manager, “two products in particular—Colt and Laurel Heights—are looking really attractive.”

Colt is a colorbody porcelain with a striated cement look. It features gray and beige in its two-color palette and comes in rectangles and large-format sizes, including 18 x 18, 12 x 24 and 24 x 24 in unpolished and light polished finishes.

Laurel Heights is a glazed porcelain collection featuring
a refined travertine visual in floor, wall and mosaic combinations. The color palette offers a fresh take on traditional, neutral colors. Floor sizes include 12 x 12,

18 x 18, 12 x 24 and 24 x 24, while wall tile is available in 12 x 18 and brick-joint mosaics in 2 x 4.

Other companies enjoying stellar reviews include Crossville, which took home the Supplier of the Year award from the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA). The company gave attendees a preview of its Ying & Yang collection featuring eight stones in seven different patterns set to launch in August. In addition, Lunada Bay Tile, formerly Stone & Pewter Accents, took inspiration from the ancient Japanese art of paper folding with the debut of its Origami glass tile collection, available in 11 colors.

According to Lindsey Ann Waldrep, Crossville’s vice president of marketing, distributors at this year’s Coverings “brought in more of their mid-level personnel, which is a good sign for the future.”

Fendrich expressed similar sentiments, noting there has been a lot of positive growth over the last couple of years in the ceramic tile and natural stone business. “The trend we’ve been on seems to be continuing,” she concluded. “I was anxious a plateau might be coming in the recovery, and I’m very excited that we haven’t seen it.”