Coverings returned to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, this year, and offered attendees several new attractions and a host of the latest innovations in tile design. The 2012 edition of the annual International Tile & Stone Show, which took place from April 17 to 20, drew exhibitors and visitors from around the world to display and view a broad collection of tile, stone, and installation and maintenance products. And according to National Trade Productions (NTP), the show’s management, attendance at this year’s exhibition was up 19% from last year -- with registration totaling more than 22,000. Most noticeable was a huge spike in attendance among architects and designers, which jumped 84%. Additionally, attendance among distributors was up 16% and attendance among installers and contractors rose 26%.

The large exhibition hall featured a seemingly endless collection of the latest tile and stone product lines as well as the newest developments in installation and maintenance products. Many manufacturers took advantage of the international audience by introducing their most recent product developments. Moreover, live demonstrations were also seen on the show floor from industry experts, such as the Tile Council of North America.

With such a diverse group of exhibitors, many were grouped in international pavilions throughout the exhibit hall. Among a few of the larger delegations represented were the Ceramics of Italy, Tile Council of North America and Tile of Spain. Other pavilions included Brazil and China.

Ceramics of Italy drew a daily crowd to its new 3,000-square-foot pavilion, which was named “Piazza Ceramica.” The association had held an “Exhibit Design Challenge” to find the designer of its new booth. Eva Perez de Vega and Ian Gordon of e+i studio in New York, NY, were announced as the winning team.
Tile of Spain also attracted a number of people each day with its offering of wine and tapas every afternoon as well as daily 30-minute educational seminars given by Ryan Fasan, Technical Consultant for Tile of Spain.


Sustainable products
With the green building movement continuing to grow, it is evident that tile manufacturers see it as more than a trend, and they are dedicating time and money to producing sustainable tile collections. While walking the exhibit hall, there were numerous products on display that were being promoted as green.

The TCNA continued to spread the word about its recently launched Green Squared program -- the flooring industry’s first sustainability standard for tile and tile installation materials. The association developed the standard under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process, and this sustainability standard recognizes manufacturers for their environmental leadership and corporate social responsibility across a broad range of indicators.

Crossville -- one of the first tile manufacturers to receive certification under the new Green Squared(SM) certification standard -- presented its latest introduction, “Shades by Crossville.” Produced with a minimum 20% recycled content, the line is suited for residential and commercial installations and may be used on interior floors and walls, as well as exterior walls.

In the spirit of sustainable design, Coverings -- along with Environmental Design + Construction (ED+C), TILE’s sister publication -- sponsored the “PROJECT: Green” competition. Three projects were recognized for defining achievements in design and architecture where sustainability was a core mission and tile and stone were integral to that end. The winners were Schlüter Systems, a supplier of tile and installation systems, for a newly built 90,000-square-foot distribution and training center in Reno, NV; and Crossville for the San Francisco International Airport Terminal Two and the John C. Kluczynski Federal Building in Chicago.


Growing trends
One noticeable trend among tile collections this year is the growing popularity of wood-look tile. And with the sophisticated process of digital printing at the manufacturing level, the authenticity of these tile lines is impressive. Advances in technology have allowed tile surfaces to possess the fine grain look that is found in hardwood.

Among these new collections is “Boardwalk” by Mediterranea. Inspired by seaside destinations across the U.S., tiles in the “Boardwalk” Collection are made to emulate weathered hardwood planks.