The call for entries for this year’s 2009 Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition read, “Great design deserves to be recognized.” As a result, Confindustria Ceramica, the Association of Italian Ceramics and the Italian Trade Commission, received the highest number of submissions in the competition’s 16-year history.

Commercial awardee Cooper Carry’s project - Newport Center renovation.


The call for entries for this year’s 2009 Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition read, “Great design deserves to be recognized.” And the North American architectural and design community responded loud and clear.

This year, Confindustria Ceramica, the Association of Italian Ceramics and the Italian Trade Commission received the highest number of submissions in the competition’s 16-year history. Aside from the high quantity, it was the quality of the projects that particularly impressed the international jury. From entire residences to multi-floored shopping centers, Italian tile played a major role in every project as it provided a surface solution that was design-forward, durable and dependable.

Industrial winner Baldinger Architectural Studio, Inc.’s project, Disability Empowerment Center of Arizona (DEC).

In addition to reviewing the overall design and creative uses of tile, the jury also evaluated the sustainable aspects of each project. After an intensive selection process, the committee selected three top prizes and three honorable mentions.

In the Commercial category, Cooper Carry was chosen as the winner for the renovation of Newport Center, an upscale mall located in Jersey City, NJ. The company used tiles from four different Italian tile manufacturers to give the interior an elegant facelift.

Residential winner Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture’s project Taliesin Mod. Fab.

The top Institutional award went to Baldinger Architectural Studio for the design of the Disability Empowerment Center of Arizona (DEC), a 64,000-sq.-ft., non-profit disability services campus.

This year the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture received the Residential prize for its design and construction of Taliesin MOD.FAB, a modular, prefabricated home that will be used to house visiting lecturers, faculty and advisors.

Finally, Honorable mentions were awarded to: Gross Kaplin Coviensky architects for the Head Office Dollarama (Commercial); Groth Design Group, Inc for the St. Jerome Catholic Church (Institutional) and Ziger/Snead LLP for the Woodvalley House (Residential).

Stone Tile International (STI) received the 2009 Confindustria Ceramica North American Distributor Award. Pictured (from left) are: Aniello Musella, Italian Trade Commissioner; Daniel Sultan, Stone Tile International; Sylvia Benchimol, co-founder, Stone Tile International; Vicky Baron, Stone Tile International; Carl Hesse, co-founder, Stone Tile International; and Vittorio Borelli, VP of Promotions, Confindustria Ceramica.

STI garners Ceramic Tiles of Italy's Distributor Award

Stone Tile International (STI) has been named the 2009 recipient of the Confindustria Ceramica North American Distributor Award. This annual award is presented to a prominent U.S. or Canadian distributor at Coverings for their dedication to the promotion and use of Italian ceramic tiles in the marketplace.

As in past years, a Supervisory Committee, made up of members of the Confindustria Ceramica Board of Directors, compiled a list of criteria based on recommendations from the Italian ceramic tile manufacturers. Number of votes expressed by the companies; competence and skill over the years as an importer and distributor of Italian ceramic tiles; preference for Ceramic Tiles of Italy for their unique aesthetic and technical qualities; fair-trade practices in the commercial relationship undertaken with the Italian manufacturers; and best showroom and corporate image were all taken into consideration during the judging. STI best exemplified each of the rigorous standards set forth by the Italian ceramic tile industry.

Sylvia Benchimol and Carl Hesse formed Stone Tile International in 1992 as a result of their desire to bring previously inaccessible stones to the A&D community. Using the same modus operandi, the company went on to develop its porcelain and ceramic collection. According to Benchimol, “When we started the business, we were 100% stone. Then, when we went to Coverings in 1995, we started to meet the Italian suppliers of porcelain and started to develop a portfolio. This was the beginning of the era of great advances in porcelain manufacturing technologies such as double-loaded porcelains. Since then we have been steadily growing – and almost doubling our sales and inventory of porcelains every year.”

Drawing from her extensive experience in the tile industry, Sylvia Benchimol leads a very professional and dedicated sales team who work closely with designers, architects, contractors, builders, and homeowners to advise and create one-of-a-kind installations in both residential and commercial settings. As an architect, Carl Hesse lends his professional business background and design and marketing expertise to the organization to create groundbreaking marketing and showroom environments. Applying the company’s extraordinary product portfolio, the resulting gallery-like showrooms are often the talk of the design community, leading the way for innovations in showroom design.

Their portfolio includes an array of Italian tile manufacturers. As noted by Benchimol, “We buy from our suppliers because we know that they spend a lot of time and money on R&D and they consistently come up with the best quality and the best designs. Our clients are coming to us for something different and cutting-edge – something that separates us from the rest. We are bringing them tomorrow’s trends not yesterday’s.”