Coverings 2009 proved, as it has for the past 20 years, that it is a vital compass in pointing the way to the latest trends in tile and stone. There was no shortage of impressive and notable new products on exhibit here over the past four days of the annual exposition and conference.
New technologies have yielded many of the most exciting introductions. There were plenty of oohs and ahhs along the aisles of McCormick Place Convention Center, as well, in reaction to numerous new decorative styles and design concepts. With hundreds of exhibitors from more than 50 countries, Coverings reigns as a leading global marketplace where retailers, distributors, installers, architects, designers and builders can see the latest products, applications and innovations.
American-based StonePeak came to Coverings with breaking news appropriate for a week that coincided with Earth Day: It has invented a photocatalytic tile that features a micrometric layer of titanium dioxide, a treatment resulting in a tile that helps reduce pollutants, is self-cleaning and also anti-microbial. The Tile Council of North America, through its laboratory testing, confirmed this patented technology and the photocatalytic properties. StonePeak executives said the product, which is suitable for both indoors and outdoors, will be available this fall.
Several companies have mastered the technology to create ultra-thin tile slabs—most either 3 mm or 4 mm thick (1/8 and 1/6 inch, respectively). What’s astonishing about these porcelain additions are their laminate-like characteristics. They can simply be adhered over most existing surfaces, a cost savings, plus offer a low maintenance high performance cladding for exteriors as well as a rejuvenating topping for counters, cabinetry facades and other interior furnishings. Among those pioneering this breakthrough is Inalco, a Tile of Spain manufacturer, who introduced SlimmKer. Showing similarly progressive products were Ceramic Tiles of Italy companies, including Florim, which came to Coverings with Slim/4, and from Cotto D’Este, there was the Kerlite series, which includes a new style called “Buxy” that is being offered by Boffi as a finish option for its kitchen components. At Gardenia Orchidea, the 1/8-inch profile was shown in decorative tiles available in 13-x-13-inch and 6-1/2-x-13-inch sizes. This “Crystal Ker” collection included styles with a faux leather finish plus ornate motifs, some with glittering details.
Another significant outcome of technology is digital ink jet printing of porcelain tiles to create less costly more practical flooring rather than actual slate or exotic woods. Florida Tile, for instance, was showing “Legend,” which mimics slate, can go outdoors as well as in, and is available in large formats up to
24-x-24. Grespania also had a slate look-alike, “Zumaia,” while Tau took the faux wood look to a new level with “Deco,” imitative of zebrano. And, back at Gardenia Orchidea, a stunner was “Onice,” a series of both ceramic and porcelain tiles made to look like highly polished marble and marble mosaics.
Teeming With Textures
More than ever before, the textural effects achieved in tiles are extraordinary. Textiles and other soft goods have found their match in designs such as Interstyle’s “Castanets” glass tile pattern and Ragno’s “Textile” series, that could easily have been mistaken for a rug. Inalco tricked the eye with “Class,” a wall tile resembling the short hair texture of pony skin. Dekomer, a Turkish manufacturer, showed woven dimensional styles in limestone and marble. Brix tapped design icon Andrée Putman to create “Powder,” a finish in gray tones that is meant to have the appearance of low-pile commercial carpeting.
At Tagina, the concept was to translate the look of mother-of-pearl, and the results were spectacular, achieved, in part, by mixing convex and concave shapes to accentuate the pearlescent sheen. The collection, “Joe,” is offered in several surprising pastel hues plus nature’s neutral palette.
Metallic finishes continue to be prevalent in fashion and home furnishings, but the trend is shifting from the bolder tones to more subtle, nuanced looks. This was clear at Villeroy & Boch, where its new “Aimee” gold tone tiles had a burnished finish accenting the swirling relief detail. Vitra, one of Turkey’s tile stars, sparkled with “Vogue,” a lurex-like design in pale gold and platinum color options. Century was stirring buzz with its patterned metallics that took on the look of exotic skins, such as zebra, snake and tiger, while the attraction at Adex was a “tufted” chrome look that could be personalized with a choice of tesserae “buttons.” Vidrepur’s new “Midas” collection of glass tiles were streaked with aluminum, giving them a rich sparkle and glow. But, beneath the glitz and glamour of this line is a serious environmental story, with 100% recycled glass plus recycled aluminum used in the production. In fact, the collective consciousness of most of the Coverings exhibitors seemed attuned to greener practices and products, with scores appropriating significant real estate in their displays to explain their eco-commitments.
Other Noteworthy Head-Turners
One can only imagine the possible designs evolving from the use of “MIX” micro-mosaics introduced by Brix. There are 2,304 of the tiny tile cubes attached to each 12-x-12-inch mesh sheet, and with a fashion-driven color range, this collection poses a fun challenge to any architect or designer.
For those appreciating vintage charm, the hand crafted terra cotta tiles from Tabarka, a Phoenix-based company, were irresistible. The worn patina finishes of the tiles suggested authentic antiques.
Stone Age came from Jaipur, India, with limestone wall treatments dramatically sculpted and with a reflective finish that is unexpected of the material.
The colorful and decorative motifs of the cement tiles from Aguayo, a manufacturer based in the Dominican Republic, are based on actual designs from Cuba that the company is helping to preserve in its “Cuban Heritage” collection.
Coverings is the premier international trade fair and expo dedicated exclusively to showcasing the newest in ceramic tile and natural stone. Now in its 20th year, Coverings has grown to be the largest and most important show of its kind in the U.S., featuring exhibitors from more than 50 countries and attracting tens of thousands of distributors, retailers, fabricators, contractors and specifiers, architectural and design professionals, builders and real estate developers, plus the press and journalists who cover this vital and dynamic industry. Coverings is the stage for introducing some of the most innovative tile and stone products in the world. The exposition also serves as a valuable resource for continuing education for all categories of attendees, with informative, accredited seminars and live demonstration sessions conducted throughout the four days and all free of charge.
In 2010, Coverings is set for April 27 to 30, and returns to Orlando and the Orange County Convention Center. For more information on attending or exhibiting at Coverings, please visit www.coverings.com or contact NTP, Coverings Show Management, at 703.683.8500.
Thanks to Nicole Janok for this post!