April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2
By Amanda Haskin
“While Coverings sees great value in bringing the show to new parts of the country periodically, Orlando always feels like home,” said Karin Fendrich, show director. “Rotating through a cycle of locations affords us the opportunity to strengthen our ties to a variety of markets by exposing its professionals to international products and robust education opportunities. Orlando has been a traditionally strong market, and we found the response to be extremely welcoming and enthusiastic.”
With more than 1,100 exhibitors spanning 440,000 net square feet, this year’s show was the largest since 2008, 18% larger than last year in Las Vegas. And with an optimistic economic landscape on the horizon, attendees had every right to be in a good mood.
“The housing and construction markets have picked up,” noted Alena Capra, owner of Alena Capra Designs and this year’s Coverings Industry Ambassador. “Everyone is busy again and excited about building and new developments, and you can see that change in the feeling of the show. People are excited about new products because they’re working on new projects.”
Donato Pompo, president of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, had a similar impression. “I’ve been coming to Coverings for about 30 years. Obviously during the recession the show got a lot smaller, but the last few years I’ve seen it continually grow. Everyone has a brighter view of things.”
This sense of optimism was visually brought to life through the design trends that swept across the showroom floor. Kristin Coleman, who oversees marketing and public relations for Ceramics of Italy, said that she saw a lot more “playfulness” in design, which was illustrated in nearly every trend.
Coverings 2015 saw pops of three-dimensionality, richgolds and hexagons in both macro and micro sizes. Other trends included new heights in large-format thin tile, the latest evolution of wood looks, pop art, metallics and a fascination with industrial spaces.
Large formats, thin tiles
Many exhibiting companies are playing with exaggerated sizes, like Italy’s Florim, which brought its new Magnum Oversize ceramic slabs featured in a towering 160 x 320 cm format with a thickness of 6mm.
Florida Tile showed its recently introduced Thinner line, a revolutionary large-format thin porcelain tile with a wide range of installation options. Despite its 3mm and 5mm thicknesses, Thinner selections are exceptionally dense, durable and lightweight.
Crossville debuted a large-format textured metal product called I Metalli. It is part of the company’s Laminam 3+ collection of 3mm-thick tile for wall use and is offered in 1m x 1m and 1m x 3m dimensions (1m is equivalent to about 39 inches). It has the look of a diamond plate oxidized metal, but the small dimensions of the diamond plate design gives it an elegant, woven quality.
Lea Ceramiche showcased Pixel, the latest addition to the company’s Slimtech line. The series’ vibrant color palette was inspired by Italy’s landscapes and is available in a 3mm thickness and sizes up to 1m x 3m.
“The technology is amazing,” said Capra. “Look at our first cell phones—they were like bricks, and now we have these thin little phones that do everything. It’s the same with tile. The tile is getting smaller and thinner, but it does more and has more applications. I think it’s the future of the industry; it’s going to stay and evolve.”
To go along with this increased popularity of large formats, Mapei introduced Ultralite S2, a lightweight mortar specifically designed for large-format thin tiles. It has improved wetting characteristics that provide extended working time, giving installers a larger window to place the tiles into the mortar bed.
Wood looks push limits of realism
Marazzi debuted two new wood looks at Coverings. Preservation features realistic variation within each plank and a textured finish while Knoxville is a softer, more polished visual that is more modern.
Ragno’s newest wood look, Railwood, has a dramatically aged feeling, with white patches that resemble peeled paint.
Another Italian company demonstrating a similar effect in its new tiles is Sant’Agostino. In its BlendArt collection, a “paint effect” is superimposed on the original knotty nature of the wood before any further processing. In addition to traditional plank formats, it is also offered in a unique 3 x 3 square.
Over at the Tile of Spain pavilion, Tau presented two sleek and modern wood looks—the Nordic-style Grove and Mediterranean-inspired Forever collections, with natural finishes available in seven colors and four sizes.
Demonstrating how a company can evolve with the wood look trend, Florida Tile debuted the Alava collection, which offers both wood and stone selections in the same color palette. Each look shares a slightly weathered, reclaimed look, and with over 100 graphics per color per size, the line offers significant amount of variation.
Three-dimensionality is an evolving trend in tile. One example of the movement is 3-D glass mosaics, notably from Spain’s Vidrepur, which features both three-dimensional pillowed tiles and penny rounds in its Elements collection.
Three-dimensional designs were showcased in stone, with the wind-swept relief tiles of the Mexican company In-pietra. Utilizing CNC technology, it has created dynamic textures that resemble sand dunes and waves, in addition to geometric patterns out of limestone, marble, travertine and onyx.
Also new in 3-D styling is Florida Tile’s Impero line, featuring a ledger travertine look with a keystone pattern and a smooth, matte surface. Very tight grout joints that almost disappear from a distance give this product an added level of sophistication.
New and noteworthy
Crossville also introduced a porcelain stone collection, Gotham, a concrete look inspired by urban sidewalks, subways and foundations that evoke a film noir, 1920s cityscape.
StonePeak added six new colors to its large-format porcelain tile line, Plane. Featured on the booth floor was a grandiose marble look from this series called Arabescato Vena. Another introduction is the Zebrino collection of lineal high-tech porcelain marble that comes in a mosaic design, as well as a distressed wood look.
In addition to its new wood visuals, Marazzi debuted Summerville, a French limestone look that evokes an Old World feel with worn, cushioned edges. Middletown Square is a modern take on an artisan feel that features a highly polished texture and comes in clean, neutral colors.
Coinciding with the hexagonal trend, Ragno featured its Rewind collection in patterned 8 x 8 hexagons that play off of old patterns with a decoupage element.