More than 60,000 people attended UNICERA 2008, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

The 20th UNICERA Ceramic and Bathroom Trade Fair, held in Istanbul, Turkey, recently, hosted more than 60,000 attendees, a record for this event, say organizers. Compared to the first show held in April 1988 with 100 square meters of space and 8,500 attendees, the 2008 exhibition had grown to encompass more than 40,000 square meters with from more than 170 exhibitors.

Adnan Polat, president of the Turkish Ceramics Federation, discusses the history and future of the Turkish ceramic industry at the opening ceremony of UNICERA 2008.

The show opened with remarks by Bulent Unal, chairman of the board of directors of Tuyap Fair; and Serdar Yalcyn, chairman of the executive board of Tuyap Fair, followed by additional remarks from Adnan Polat, president of the Turkish Ceramics Federation. In his address, Polat gave a condensed history of the Turkish ceramic industry, highlighting its enormous growth, which has been mirrored by the growth of the UNICERA fair.

One of the standout designs at UNICERA 2008 was the new Ottoman series from Toprak, which utilizes a new technology to bond actual fabric to the tile during the glazing process, resulting in a fuzzy texture that remains durable even after cleaning.

“In 1972, total output was not even 1 million square meters,” Polat noted. “Now we produce 360 million square meters of floor tiles and 23 million pieces of sanitary ware,” Polat said.

There were many new ceramic tile designs aimed at the luxury market, such as this new textile-inspired design from Dixaya, which features an array of genuine Swarovski crystals.

The tremendous growth of the Turkish ceramic tile industry was reflected in the broad variety of ceramic and porcelain tile designs presented on the show floor. While the majority of tile designs were clearly aimed at the domestic market, many companies also presented products designed expressly for the U.S. market, particularly the commercial segment.

Kalebodur’s new Orientile series features an unusual octagonal format that allows the user to create different color combinations.

“In the United States, we are more focused on the commercial market,” said Konca Calkivik, marketing manager for Vitra, which introduced 30 new series at the show, including a new mosaic design system that allows any image to be converted into a mosaic.