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Coverings 2015: Optimistic outlooks, playful design trends

April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2

By Amanda Haskin

Sicis boothOrlando—Coverings, the largest tile and stone exhibition in North America, returned to its location here after two years away; the comeback can only be described as celebratory.

“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

Florida Tile boothMany 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 boothMarazzi 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 I MetalliAn additional launch from Florida Tile is its first fabric look, Rhyme, which features a subtle texture and dynamic shade variation; it has a dark background with a lighter top glaze application.

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.

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Coverings 2015 to feature 'Appreciation Days'

10543525_10152561965515699_5697974488423710955_oAlexandria, Va.—Coverings, the largest tile and stone exhibition in North America, has announced the return of its Appreciation Days, which will feature tailored programming for specific attendee segments, including architects, designers, fabricators, contractors, builders and remodelers. Comprised of guided tours of the show floor and focused education sessions, Appreciation Days will provide participants with opportunities to further their knowledge alongside fellow industry members during Coverings 2015, which will be held April 14-17 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

Participants of each Appreciation Day will have access to a designated lounge, providing a space dedicated to networking and relaxing during the show. Additionally, all registered participants of Coverings’ Appreciation Days will be offered complimentary lunches and numerous opportunities to network with other professionals during their respective day.

“Each attendee segment is important to Coverings and their attendance is appreciated, so we are continually searching for ways to enhance their show experience,” said Karin Fendrich, Coverings show director. “Appreciation Days not only allow us to celebrate the diverse range of Coverings’ attendees, but also provide them with curated educational and networking opportunities.”

Dates and programming highlights for the Appreciation Days are as follows:

  • Builder & Remodeler Day will take place April 14, and feature roundtable discussions in English and Spanish over lunch in the Appreciation Lounge, facilitated by the Hispanic Contractors Association of the Carolinas (in Spanish) and the Florida Home Builders Association, focused on current trends in the builder and remodeler industry in the Southeast market. In addition, guided tours of the show floor will take place at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., starting and ending at the Appreciation Lounge.
  • Architect & Designer Day is April 15 and begins with breakfast at 9:15 a.m. with Interior Design magazine’s Hospitality Design Power Panel, moderated by Deputy Editor Edie Cohen. Lunch is provided during Joey Shimoda’s noon Keynote Session where he will present “The Sensuality of Surface,” sponsored by Contract m In addition, specifier attendees are encouraged to attend the Featured Session presented by American Society of Interior Designers Executive Vice President and CEO Randy Fiser, who will discuss “Designing Wellness.” In between the dynamic education programming, facilitated tours of the show floor will take place at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., leaving from the Appreciation Lounge.
  • Contractor Days will span two days, from April 15-16. On these days, the National Tile Contractors Association will host roundtable discussions over lunch in the Contractor Lounge. Discussions will be divided into residential and commercial contracting interests and are open to all experience levels. The Contractor Days also feature eight, one-hour guided tours of the show floor and happy hours with prize giveaways in the lounge in the afternoon.
  • Fabricator Day will take place on April 16, featuring several roundtables over lunch in the Appreciation Lounge on key topics, including, “CEU Immersion Class | Providing CEUs to Architects & Interior Designers Using MIA’s Turn-Key Program,” “How to Handle Wastewater in a Fabrication Setting,” and “Perspectives in Benchmarking.” “Stone Zone Passports” will also be available at registration and in the Lounge for fabricators to use as a map and guide to exploring the dozens of exhibitors located in the machinery and allied products area of the Coverings show floor.


To learn more about conferences, programs, exhibitors and special events planned for Coverings 2015, visit

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Coverings 2015 conference program features industry authorities

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.16.57 PMAlexandria, Va.—Coverings 2015, being held April 14–17 in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center, will feature more than 75 educational sessions covering a broad range of relevant topics to the tile and stone industry through its robust program of notable and respected speakers.

The educational program will begin April 13. Sessions are divided into curated tracks for each segment of attendees including distributors, retailers, architects, designers, fabricators, contractors, builders/remodelers as well as those professionals seeking green education.

Among the lineup are four keynote speakers: Eric Astrachan, executive director of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA); Edie Cohen, deputy editor of Interior Design magazine; Harris Rosen, president of Rosen Hotels & Resorts and Joey Shimoda, chief creative officer of The Shimoda Design Group. Each keynote session will serve a complimentary breakfast or lunch.

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Coverings appoints Capra as industry ambassador

Coverings Industry Ambassador Alena CapraAlexandria, Va.—Coverings 2015, the largest global tile & stone exhibition in North America, has named Alena Capra its Industry Ambassador. In this newly created position, Capra will serve a critical role as a liaison to the local industries related to tile and stone as well as media. She will be sharing her tile and stone trend insights through media interviews and presentations at trade association events for builders, contractors, installers, distributors, as well as architects and designers, leading up to the show. Coverings 2015 will be held April 14-17 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

Capra brings more than 12 years of experience as a residential designer to the role, and is accredited through the National Kitchen and Bath Association as a Certified Kitchen Designer and Certified Bath Designer. Capra’s design expertise has been leveraged by various design shows around the country as a speaker and her work has been published in a several national and regional media outlets.

“Coverings has been an invaluable resource for me to learn about the latest tile and stone products, trends and practices—something that’s critical to my success as a designer,” Capra said. “I’m honored to work with such a prestigious industry event that is truly serving architects, designers, and other trade professionals, providing countless opportunities to understand the tile and stone landscape and ultimately boost their bottom line.”

Capra is intimately familiar with Coverings and its exhibitors, education and special programs as she was enlisted as a designer for the inaugural Installation Design Showcase at Coverings 2011. Since then she has continued to expand her role with the event.

“Alena is not only a talented designer, but she truly understands the value of Coverings,” said Karin Fendrich, Coverings show director. “This new role is a highly anticipated addition for Coverings, and we’re thrilled to have her advocate the show to the regional community and be an expert resource for media on tile and stone trends.”

In addition to her professional presentations and media interviews, Capra will provide her expertise online, with posts for the Coverings blog and her social channels using #Coverings2015 on Twitter (@AlenaCapra), Instagram (@AlenaCapraDesign), as well as on Facebook and Pinterest. Coverings also will be highlighting Capra’s insights through its own social media channels.

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Coverings seeking speakers, presentations

Coverings_Logo_COV15Alexandria, Va.—Coverings 2015, the largest global tile and stone exhibition in North America, is in search of conference speakers and professional development seminar leaders. Expected to be the largest show in five years, Coverings will be held April 14-17, 2015 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

Known for its comprehensive speaking and education programs, Coverings seeks authorities in the categories of architecture and interior design, fabrication and installation, green building, retail sales and distribution, to submit proposals for one or more topics. Proposals from individuals as well as teams are accepted, and should be submitted at The deadline for submissions is Sept. 5.

“Education continues to be one of the most valuable aspects of Coverings, which is why we aim to bring together the most knowledgeable and distinguished industry experts to speak to our show attendees,” said Karin Fendrich, Coverings show director. “In fact, the conference program at Coverings offers the broadest range of subject matter in the industry.”

All sessions are free to registered Coverings attendees and exhibitors. Coverings is a registered provider of AIA and NKBA continuing education and applies for CEUs through IDCEC.

The complete Coverings 2015 conference program will be revealed in Jan. 2015 at