Coverings 2014 Review: Crossville, Imola, Florida Tile, Del Conca, more
By Heather Osteen
Mixed media, new shapes, new interpretations of handmade looks and the continued development of bigger planks captured most of the attention at Coverings 2014. This year’s event marked the 25th anniversary of the show. The massive exhibits at this event extend beyond the portable product racks that are prevalent with other U.S. floorcovering expos, giving the show a unique feel. Many of the exhibitors choose to build complete room vignettes—offering attendees a better feel for what the installed product can look like.
After a recent $20 million facelift completed last fall, the Las Vegas Convention Center hosted the show on two levels with the Italian pavilion on the first floor and the Spanish and North American pavilion on level two. Both exhibitor and attendee numbers were up this year. Attendance topped 22,500, up 3% from last year (and up 22% from 2011, the last time the show was in Vegas). And exhibitors were up from 950 last year to 975. Historically, attendance for Coverings is stronger when the show selects an eastern venue but show organizers still see value in alternating locations.
According to Svend Hovmand, Coverings board member and chairman emeritus at Crossville, “Coverings has evolved to showcase truly impressive booths, brilliant products, live installation demonstrations and, equally important, our educational track. As tile and stone have become essential to the overall architecture and design of many spaces, Coverings remains critical to fulfilling industry demand.”
Luciano Galassini, another Coverings board member who is also deputy director general of Confindustria Ceramica, said, “By joining forces with other tile associations and creating a trade show run by the industry, we’ve been able to transform the tile market in the U.S. Many things have changed over 25 years, but the show continues to be the best tool for promoting tile in America among distributors, contractors, specifiers and consumers.”
Coverings is jointly owned by five different entities: Ceramics of Italy, Tile of Spain, the Tile Council of North America, National Tile Contractors Association, and the Ceramic Tile Distributor Association.
Aesthetically, tile has come a long way in recent years. Formats continue to expand as press technology evolves and surface decoration—created with digital printers—replaces more traditional screen printing methods. Larger formats mean more distinctive shapes in the form of strips, hexagons and rhombuses. And digital printing, now in its fourth iteration, enables producers to lay down a near perfect image—even on a textured surface. This opens the door for wood looks that are bleached, distressed and weathered or stone looks with veining that appears to be coming from the core of the tile.
And for the bolder brands, this new technology enables producers to move beyond the emulation of nature and give interior designers the creative edgy look of impressionism and modern art.
Other producers, meanwhile, have modified their manufacturing process to allow for systematic methods of blending different clays and glazes or firing the product multiple times—resulting in concrete looks or oxidized metal slab looks that have unique depth and character.
Bundling different products that share the same color range at the time of installation is a trend called “mixed media.” In a few examples at the show, glass, metal and tiles with different gloss and texture levels were juxtaposed into one floor design.
Neutral colors are still important, with greys most prominent, and using texture to bring those colors to life meant, in some booths, being able to actually feel the three dimensional texture beneath one’s feet. And with so much in the way of neutrals and earth tones, the occasional vivid or saturated hue stood out, including some rich red terra cottas and a cherry red wall tile at Atlas Concorde.
Environmental progress and achievements, including recycling of post-industrial and post-consumer waste, were hot topics for many exhibitors as well.
In the Crossville booth, the Tennessee based manufacturer demonstrated the installation of its large format Laminam thin tiles, teaching how to move, cut and install the product. In June, 5.6mm Laminam tile will be offered in two new looks, including Kauri, which is named after a New Zealand wood with vivid graining. Crossville’s new texturized outdoor tile, Garden, was on display as well, available in beige, a deep red-brown and a grey mix that goes from dark to light, and it’s available in four sizes as well as bullnose pieces. Starting this month, Crossville is also applying its Hydrotect catalytic finish to its Virtue line, originally released in 2013, at no extra cost to the consumer.
At the end of the first day of the show, Crossville was recognized by the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) as the “Supplier of the Year”—an award that is voted on by the membership.
For the second year in a row, the Ceramica d’Imola North America booth included a display wall showcasing green leaves and white dinnerware behind a cage façade, echoing its beginnings as a dinnerware manufacturer and its focus on sustainability. Founded in 1874, the company shifted its product focus from dinnerware to floor and wall tile production 100 years ago. Part of its booth pictorially told the story of these two anniversaries and another section was focused on Imola’s ever expanding Green Squared Certified products. This year, the company is adding seven more certified products, bringing the total to 60.
Perhaps most striking at Imola this year was Hidden, a handsome, soft look in a full-bodied tile under the Leonardo brand, available in four neutral colors and five different textures, suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Other products of interest were Lamiera in a sheet metal look available in dark grey or copper brown, and varying shapes for creative patterns, including hexagons; Word Up, natural or structured-rustic; and Lastra, a glazed porcelain tile with a natural stone look, available in four natural clear colors.
Del Conca, the latest Italian producer with Tennessee based production showcased the story of its new Loudon, Tennessee plant using a video screen at the entrance to its booth that detailed the journey, from beginning to ribbon-cutting and into production. Del Conca displayed four new product lines from the plant, which just opened in mid-February. Bayside is a wood look in 6”x24” planks and three neutral colors; Siena is a thin tile available in three neutral colors and four plank sizes; Tudor Stone, a natural stone-look product, is also available in four plank sizes, and comes in four neutral colors, suitable for residential or commercial use; Vesuvio echoes a marble look, and is offered in two pale neutral tones.
Fast tile, a floating floor system produced in Italy and available in the U.S., was on display and is now offered in three different finishes. Part of the attraction for this system is its rapid installation speed and its ability to be moved and reused.
Fiandre showcased large porcelain panels hanging from above in an impressive display. The massive 5’x10’ panels, which are 6mm thick, were shown in marble, white and black. Fiandre uses 100% natural minerals in a cold fuse manufacturing process, so there are no tints, dyes or polymers in the finished product. The application of the minerals generates naturally occurring variations throughout the panels.
Florida Tile, which is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, introduced several new lines, including Maltese, Marquis and, coming soon, a new line of thin tile aptly named Thinner. Maltese, which was on the booth’s floor, has a natural finish and is available in five colors, including Roman Gray, Palma Brown and Porto Cream. Marquis, part of Florida Tile’s High Definition Porcelain series, has the look and feel of marble and comes in shiny or matte finish. Marquis comes in porcelain for floor tiles and regular ceramic for wall tiles. Florida Tile has also been focusing on going green, including using 70% less raw material and 70% less water, recycling 70% of its fired waste, and using 50% less natural gas consumption in processing.
Florim won Covering 2014’s Overall Best in Show for the best booth layout with its Italian outdoor villa designed by Paola Porta. Florim USA’s new product lines included White Crust, a clean, crisp-looking glazed porcelain that was on the booth floor. The collection comes in seven different formats including 12”x24” and 24”x48”. The new multicolored wall tile, Charleston was showcased in a lounge type setting that garnered a good deal of attention from attendees—the vignette featured an American flag made out of tile as part of the wall.
The other three new lines by Florim USA were Exotics, a wood plank look available in three colors and a 6”x36” size; Basaltine, which replicates the look of volcanic stone and is available in a five-color range of neutrals and three sizes (4”x24”, 6”x24” cut, and 24”x48” rectified); and Mansion, a stone look available in four different neutral colors.
MS International, a leading importer, claims to be the largest source for natural stone in the U.S. About 65% of its floor products are man-made and 35% is natural stone. Introductions by MSI included Salvage, a porcelain tile with a reclaimed barnwood look tile in 6”x24” planks available in brown, honey, red and musk. A more contemporary offering, Sophie is a softer marble look in a 12”x24” size offered in four colors including Anthracite (with dark greys and taupe tones in it), Gray, Maron and White. Sygma, another product in the MSI line getting a lot of attention with its handscraped wood look, is available in Ebony, Ice, Chocolate, and Café colors and is sold in a 6”x24” size.
Mohawk’s American Olean is celebrating its 91st birthday in 2014 and was at the show for the first time in nine years for the 25th anniversary of Coverings, showing its support and commitment to the industry and to its distributors. Colt was one of two new color-body porcelains America Olean displayed, offering tuxedo and patterned accent pieces in an unpolished gray or beige finish, echoing the trend of mixing colors and textures in one layout. Colt is also offered in a light polished or unpolished beige and grey floor tile.
Method, American Olean’s other new color-body porcelain, comes in a polished, unpolished or textured tile, in a range of neutral colors from Cream to Sable. AO’s Laurel Heights line is offered in a floor/wall combination. The floor line is a glazed porcelain available in four neutral colors and four sizes, and the matching wall version is also available in a mosaic. American Olean, as part of the Mohawk family, has environmental product declarations for every product it manufactures in North America.
Marazzi and Ragno, sister brands that are also part of the Mohawk family, were once again sharing booth space this year. Ragno’s floor was quietly stunning, a terra cotta shade of the new Villa Medici line that provided a sharp contrast to the popular greys. Villa Medici’s visual is produced through a combination of inkjet and roto-color printing, making the colors and patterns in this elegant line truly varied and random. Treverkchic is the 48” wood plank line, available in four colors, including Americano, Francese, Italiano and Africa, and is available in three different widths up to 12”.
On the Marazzi side, Lounge 14 offered textile looks for both floor and wall formats. The line is suitable for indoor and outdoor installations, and mixing colors and sizes can create unique patterns. Fontanelle is a truly unique combination of stone and wood looks, with individual tiles ranging from pure stone to pure wood looks, along with a range of blends, while San Savino’s variation is in the texture, which showcases its rich, deep colors. Dal-Tile used to source all of its 48” planks from its Marazzi facilities in Italy, but the firm’s new and upgraded domestic facilities now feature the same technology.
Atlas Concorde had five new products in its Solutions line. Lastra is the 20mm budget line of Block, an outdoor tile, and is available in three neutral colors. Block In, the indoor version of Block, is inspired by quartzite and smoother than its outdoor sister, and it comes in a 12”x24” size. Motion is veined, marble-inspired and comes in five neutrals, including Ivory, Desert, Bronze, Walnut and Silver, in several formats. Gheos, inspired by Scabos travertine, comes in five different neutral colors.
Schönox was generating a lot of attention with its line of fast-drying self-leveling compound called ZM Rapid, which enables installers to rapidly prepare the subfloor for trouble-free tile installation. The company had a shower set-up to demonstrate the use of its waterproofing materials and process, made to easily work in any space where waterproofing is necessary. Interior Corners, the Ifix rollable waterproofing sealing adhesive and Sealing Tape products were all part of the display.
A significant portion of the ceramic tile business is in wall tiles. Though floor tile is increasingly used for wall tile applications, there are still plenty of dedicated wall tile collections, particularly from manufacturers based in Europe, where wall tile is a bigger part of the business. In a fully outfitted retro kitchen, Florida Tile was showcasing its Retro Classique, a thick wall tile created to look handmade and available in six colors, including Light Avocado, Lily, and Linen. Embracing its historical focus, Imola included a display of the Imola 1874 wall tiles, which are printed with patterns and symbols reminiscent of a long-ago era. The line is available in six different colors and several different designs to mix and match. Atlas Concorde showcased Level, for wall use only, as part of its Solutions series, a 10”x18” urban concrete look in several colors ranging from neutrals to a memorable cherry red. It also came out with Mosaico Multicolor in a mix of pale earth tones. MSI exhibited Highland Park, subway-style tiles with a high-end, handmade look with surface modulations made to look like the tiles came straight from a potter’s workshop. Highland Park comes in three colors, including true white, warm beige, and crackled gray, with matching mosaics available. American Olean was offering a Refined Metals wall collection in stainless steel, bronze and gunmetal colors. Blends of the hammered gloss, linear wave, and hammered satin are available in the mosaic blends, an intriguing mix of shiny and matte.
Copyright 2014 Floor Focus