Coverings ’16: Enhancements, new features in store

April 22, 2016

April 11/18, 2016; Volume 30, Number 21

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 2.03.24 PMCoverings has long been billed as the largest tile and stone exhibition in North America. This year’s event, slated for April 18-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago, is expected to continue in that tradition with the anticipation that it will be even bigger and better than the previous show in Orlando.

“Coverings is where exhibitors present their new products and where distributors and retailers go to ensure they have the latest and greatest,” said Alena Capra, Coverings industry ambassador. “Nowhere else can you do business with so many countries in one place. In terms of attendance, we’re expecting the show to continue to grow. Last year was our largest event since 2008 and we’re continuing to see this trend in our registration.”

While the Orlando market contributed to the show’s success in 2015, the move back to Chicago is also expected to play a pivotal role. “We are thrilled to return to Chicago and are looking forward to sharing the resources that Coverings provides designers, architects, contractors, installers, fabricators, retailers and distributors alike,” Capra said. “The Chicago market has a vibrant architecture and design community that we’re excited to interact with.”

Coverings currently offers more than 443,000 square feet of show floor space with about 10% representing new exhibitors. “Every year, exhibitors design incredible booths that tell compelling stories about the companies’ brand heritage and stories, and we expect nothing less for 2016,” Capra said. “This benefits attendees and exhibitors alike as it allows for more business transactions to happen on the show floor in addition to networking and relationship building.”

 

Educational opportunities

Coverings literally offers something for everyone who participates in the tile and stone industries. Each of the four days will be packed with interactive events for attendees to observe and participate in from live installation demonstrations and tours of the show floor to networking activities.

This year for the first time the Chicago Mosaic School will round out the show’s educational sessions with classes and workshops. Professionals who teach process, materials, techniques and skills in mosaic arts will bring their expertise to the show floor to share with attendees.

In addition, a perennial draw at the show—the Installation & Design Showcase—will be presented in a newly designed courtyard setting and will feature vignettes illustrating tile applications in commercial spaces. “This new setting is designed to encourage interaction and networking in the midst of the showcase,” Capra explained.

This year’s conference program comprises more than 70 sessions, addressing a broad range of critical topics facing the tile and stone industries. Each course is available to all attendees and exhibitors. At the same time, the show curates its educational sessions into tailored tracks for each segment: distributors, retailers, architects, designers, fabricators, installers, builders/remodelers and professionals seeking green education. There will be four keynote sessions and eight featured sessions from influencers and experts representing a diverse cross-section of industries.

 

Trend watch

Many trends are emerging from manufacturers in Italy and Spain as well as North America. “This year, as the show’s industry ambassador, I have observed a variety of trends that attendees can look for across the Coverings show floor,” Capra noted. “Brick looks—from sleek and elongated brick tiles to rustic visuals—are emerging as a distinct design statement. Rich blues and aquas remain a popular color group in tile products. Three-dimensional tiles, perfect for accent walls or high-impact statements, continue to evolve. Soft, natural colors are also trending, and the emergence of florals and fabric-like prints—as observed last year—continues to grow.”

Other trends are emerging that go well beyond products. As new patterns, designs and formats are introduced, new installation and fabrication practices must also be shared to ensure products are used properly in the field. “Additionally, the health, safety and wellness of end users and consumers are an increasingly important consideration for professionals who specify tile and stone products,” Capra explained. “Alongside introducing products to the industry, educating professionals on these additional considerations is an important part of the show.”

 

New and improved

Another new component of this year’s show is the Software Showcase, which Coverings curated to allow software companies to provide an up-close look at how their solutions meet attendees’ business needs. These how-to demos will take place in the Social Media Lounge.

What’s more, enhancements have been made to the Coverings mobile application to provide easy, onsite navigation of the show. For example, the “follow me” function will help attendees get to specific locations on the show floor. It is available for download by searching “Coverings 2016” in the Apple app store or Google Play.

For first-time attendees, coverings.com offers many readily available resources to help visitors navigate the show and best manage their time. This includes a conference program lineup, which is designed to help attendees identify educational sessions of interest, as well as an exhibitor map to help them navigate the show floor.

The First Timer Orientation is also available to new attendees and those who might not have attended the show recently. This quick session gives visitors all the information needed to make the most of their time at the show. The orientation includes answers to the most frequently asked questions as well as information about special events. First Timer Orientation is held April 18-21 from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. in room N427D.

Returning to the show this year are the Coverings Appreciation Days to facilitate enhanced learning and networking opportunities for attendees. These Appreciation Days feature tailored guided tours of the show floor, lunch, focused education sessions and more. The 2016 Appreciation Day schedule is as follows: Builder & Remodeler Day on April 18, Architect & Designer Day on April 19, Contractor Days on April 19-20 and Fabricator Day on April 20.

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