What’s new in tile and stone? Answers were found along the aisles of Coverings, the international expo and conference that exclusively focuses on the architectural building materials. The show wrapped up here Friday, April 20, concluding its annual four-day run. What was resoundingly clear about the standouts was that mastery of today’s technology is driving the trends and enabling manufacturers to take unprecedented leaps into production of adventuresome, jaw-dropping, inventive designs. The aesthetic results are more exciting than ever before.
The sense of touch was teased at Coverings with numerous tiles that incorporate texture. Mosaico+ surprised by bringing 3D dimension to its Italian made glass mosaics with the introduction of Nova, a pillow shape, and also Pulsar, a basket weave look.
At Falcan, a Tile of Spain manufacturer, the temptations to touch were too strong to resist on tiles such as Secret, which, owing to its mixed glaze process, has a granular surface that added visual interest as well as the tactile experience to a floral motif. A buttons and bows decoration on Duo mesmerized with bas relief stitches detectable only by drawing a finger across it.
And, then there was a whole crop of wood lookalikes but made from porcelain that also mimic textural details of the real thing. Among some of these no-trees-harmed-in-production styles were those from the U.S. manufacturer Mediterranea, such as Boardwalk and Coney Island that are ideal for residential or even commercial projects. Porcelanite/Lamosa, another North American manufacturer, was showing Cortex Wood, a design resembling a crosscut of authentic lumber.
One of the great beauties of porcelain versus wood is, of course, its durability and suitability to installations in bathrooms, kitchens and pool areas. Unaffected by water or insect infestations, these non-slip surfaces increasingly are winning favor throughout American households.
Wood wasn’t the only texture being imitated. A close facsimile of Corten steel, capturing the contours as well as the patina that occurs with natural aging and weathering, could be found at the Apavisa booth. This Tile of Spain manufacturer has nailed a copycat look with its Bend tiles, a series that can go outside or inside a building.
Stacy Garcia, who addressed Coverings attendees during a trends forecast conference session, noted that another textured effect showing up more and more is what she called “calcification.” A specialist in surface design, Garcia described this look as imitating natural erosion, fossilization, and deconstruction. Exemplifying this tactile experience was Porcelanite/Lamosa’s Piedra Dorsal. Another example was in the Spanish Pavilion, where Colorker was showing its Natura tile simulating the aged, time worn appearance of wood planks. And, at Atlas Concorde, a Ceramic of Italy company, Evolve decidedly featured the erosive qualities of concrete but on a porcelain body.
Garcia also remarked on the growing popularity of medallions, and at Coverings this look also brought dimension to the tiles. A real showstopper was at the Saint-Gaudens booth where the jeweler turned tile maker Valerie Saint-Gaudens was showing inlaid bronze medallions in limestone and marble tiles. Nearby, another American artisan tile maker, CR Studio 4, also had wall tiles encrusted with bronze medallions, creating a decorative look that straddled classic periods with contemporary times.
Minimal Grout Lines
Many tile manufacturers have been able to produce such precision edges and rectified shapes that the grout lines are significantly reduced. Heading this parade were companies like Italy’s Del Conca, which was showing Due, a
20 mm thick tile for outdoor use that can be dry set completely grout-less. Indoor tiles such as Crate, from American manufacturer Stonepeak, require minimal grout, and this plank style even more highly resembles wood flooring with barely a grout line showing.
Artistic Tile showed exquisite glass mosaic designs, Estrella and Fiori, with petal-shaped tiles in such tightly composed floral and leaf formations that, though grout was apparent, the lines of each mesh-backed component were imperceptible.
Trends aside, a little star power has its value, and at Coverings, Ceramics of Italy held the trump card. At manufacturer Lea Ceramiche a tile collection by Hunger Games actor and designer Lenny Kravitz was on display. Titled Goccia, the sculpted shape is punctuated by a raised disc and its glossy finish is amplified by the matte sheen of the rest of the tile. Luminary of fashion, Roberto Cavalli was represented with a tile collection for Richetti that was on exhibit. Among the offering was Diva Nero, a leopard spotted look that could impress even diehard fashionistas.
The next Coverings show is scheduled for April 29 to May 2, 2013, at Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA.
Coverings is the premier international trade fair and expo dedicated exclusively to showcasing the newest in ceramic tile and natural stone. It 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 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. Coverings 2013 is set for April 29-May 2, at Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA. For more information visit www.coverings.com or contact National Trade Productions, Coverings Show Management, 703.683.8500