Coverings, the largest tile and stone show in North America, returns to Chicago this year, after more than a decade in Orlando. Judging by the preliminary figures, it would seem that the move was a smart decision; pre-registration for the show is 28 percent ahead of 2006, with strong increases among key groups such as contractors, retailers and distributors, and architects and designers. The latter group is especially important to this year’s show, which features a greater focus on the A&D community, as well as participation by major design organizations.

According to the show organizers, this is the first year that interior design organizations have played a major sponsorship role. Official co-sponsors this year include the American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), International Interior Design association (IIDA), and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), to name just a few. The participation of these important organizations this year is significant because it underscores the importance of ceramic tile and stone to architectural design.

Tile offers many advantages to designers, including sustainability, safety and durability. It also offers an unparalleled range of options for color, texture and format. Today’s tile designs can mimic almost any surface, from wood to textiles, with uncanny accuracy, allowing architects and designers to achieve these textures in areas where the products they imitate would be unsuitable, such as areas that are exposed to temperature extremes, moisture and high traffic.

Larger formats, up to 3-by-6 feet in some cases, have made tile an attractive alternative to natural stone for exterior cladding applications. Tile has several key advantages over natural stone, including superior strength and resistance, lighter weight, and potential energy savings when used in ventilated façade systems. Although these types of applications are not yet common in the United States, they have become extremely popular throughout Europe, and it is likely they will continue to gain popularity here as well. In this issue of TILE Magazine, we examine some of the latest trends in the use of ceramic tile in exterior applications.

Every year, Coverings presents the latest tile and stone products from around the world, and the range of styles and colors on display is truly amazing. Architects and designers attending this year’s show will surely find that ceramic tile offers a broad range of choices for any interior or exterior application, residential or commercial.  In the next issue, TILE Magazine will present the latest news, trends and products from Coverings 2007.