Gardenia Orchidea launched its new porcelain tile series, Paradise, which comes in a 6 1/2-by-6 1/2-inch format with a variety of specialty pieces.

Shades of brown and beige remain popular and are being combined in new ways, such as this example, Candy by Garo Gres.
More than 32,000 people attended Coverings 2005, setting an all-time attendance record for the show, which was held May 3-6 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The official total of registered attendees was 32,228, an increase of 10 percent over the previous year's total, and marks the second consecutive year that the show has enjoyed double-digit growth. With 1,200 exhibitors showcasing the latest ceramic tile and stone products, tools and machinery in an event space which covered more than 500,000 net square feet of exhibit space, this show is the largest tile and stone show in the Americas. Attendees at the show had a variety of choices in educational seminars and programs as well as special events catered to each segment of the marketplace.

Coverings 2005 kicked off with a full house at the opening ceremony, where celebrity Dave Barry, a syndicated columnist and humorist, gave a well-received keynote address that was both funny and thought-provoking. Barry commented on a wide variety of topics from politics to relationships. The Coverings educational program also presented other well-known speakers, including Barry Wood of "Trading Spaces," one pf the top-rated shows on the The Learning Channel, and Leatrice Eiseman, principal of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training. The educational program offered highly targeted seminars for all types of attendees, including architects/designers, installers, dealers, distributors and fabricators. Many of these seminars offered ASID, AIA or Florida State Continuing Education Units.

Laticrete International received the TileAmerica! Supplier of the Year Award at Coverings 2005. Left to Right: Ed Metcalf, president, Laticrete North America; Ken Cloud, Director of Sales, Laticrete; Brian Knies, president, TileAmerica!; Renee Duffield, director of sales and marketing, TileAmerica!; Frank McManus, tech service rep, Laticrete; Vernon Cox, northeast region sales manager, Laticrete.
Also during the opening session of Coverings on May 3, the annual Spectrum and Prism awards for tile and stone design were awarded, with the grand prize winners of each award receiving a check for $10,000.

The Spectrum Grand Prize winner was the "Lander Master Bath" designed by John Mandel, president, Red Canyon Tile & Stone. The goal of this project was to create an elegant spa extending form the adjoining master bathroom, creating a spacious retreat in a limited amount of space.

Other Spectrum winners included the Residential First Prize which was awarded to Greg Andrews, owner of Andrews Tile, for his design "Ahmadian Residence." The Residential Award of Merit went to Santa Fe Design Studio for "American Summer" Ceramic Faux Carpet Foyer, which was design by mosaic artist Eric Rattan. The Commercial First Prize was awarded to Carroll Associates Architects for "The Shoppes at Buckland Hill," which featured more than 100,000 square feet of ceramic tile. The Commercial Award of Merit went to Michael P. Johnson Design Studios Ltd. for the "Wilkinson Office/Warehouse Reconstruction.

StonePeak Ceramics launched its first products at Coverings 2005. Tom Baker, StonePeak Midwest regional sales manager, demonstrates the company’s Limestone line.
The Prism Grand Prize was awarded to Paul Lamb of Paul Lamb Architects for the "Maya House," which used Texas limestone to achieve an accurate recreation of ancient Mayan architectural style and technique. The First Prize Institutional award went to Holzman Moss Architecture for "Texas Tech University," which utilized more than 42,000 square feet of fossilized limestone.

On the show floor, business was brisk, and the exhibitors were pleased with the increased attendance for this year's show.

"The show went well for us, and we feel that it was worthwhile," said Jim Dougherty of Crossville, which introduced its new series, Palais, at the show.

"We were very busy at the show," said Jim Cuthbertson of Florida Tile. "Our new products were well received, particularly Villa Antica and Biltmore."

One company that was especially excited about Coverings was StonePeak Ceramics, a new ceramic tile company which launched its first four product lines at the show.

Roca wins big — Roca Ceramica – along with its trademarks Laufen, USCT and Incepa – was awarded 2005 Overall Best in Show at Coverings 2005. According to show organizers, the award was given to Roca because its booth was laid out creatively, incorporated the role of tile and stone in its overall design, featured effective displays and exhibited an overall professional and artistic look.
"The reception StonePeak received at Coverings exceeded all our expectations," said Barrie Dekker, vice president of strategic sales for StonePeak Ceramics. "We left more confident than ever in our strategy and our product offerings, and look forward to continuing the phenomenal growth of our distribution channel." Dekker said the initial four collections will be expanded to eight by summer. The company is also planning to develop an independent distribution network as part of its business strategy.

Coverings 2005 also featured three Appreciation Night events, which were offered to honor contractors, designers/builders, and dealers and distributors at the show. For the Appreciation Nights, attendees were transported to locations at Universal City Walk, including The Groove, The Latin Quarter and Pat O'Brien's, for a night of networking in a relaxed environment. The events proved very popular with attendees, and two parties had record attendance.

One new feature at Coverings this year was the Art Tile Village presented by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), which featured handmade, artistic and specialty tile from more than 30 of the top tile artists in North America. Another new feature in the North American Pavilion this year was an installation stage with live tile installation demonstrations. The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), along with Ardex Engineered Cements, Bonsal American, C-Cure, Laticrete International, TEC-Specialty Construction Brands, Texas Cement Products, and Southern Grouts and Mortars (SGM, Inc.) conducted demonstrations on a variety of subjects including floor, shower pan, curb and wall installations.

On the closing day of the show, the manufacturers who presented the most creative and effective booths were honored with the Coverings 2005 Booth Award. This year's Grand Prize was awarded to Roca/Laufen/United States Ceramic Tile/Incepa. Other winners included Trikeenan Tileworks, Inc., Natucer and Pisoforte Revestimentos Ceramicos Ltda. For best small booth; Navarti Ceramica, SI., Rex Ceramiche Artistiche and Antolini Luigi for best in show; and IMMIB/Turkish Stone Pavilion and Tile Council of America's Art Tile Village for best collective/grouped booth concept.

At the close of the show, tile manufacturers showed their charitable side by donating more than 190 pallets of tile and tile materials to Tile Partners for Humanity, a non-profit partnership between the tile industry and Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that works to eliminated substandard housing around the world.

By all accounts, Coverings 2005 was the most successful event to date, with a 10 percent in increase in attendance and an enthusiastic response from exhibitors and attendees alike. Next year, the show will return to the Orange County Convention Center April 4-7.