April 10/17, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 22
By Nadia Ramlakhan
Orlando—Coverings, the largest tile and stone exhibition in North America, returned to a familiar location earlier this month after being hosted in Chicago in 2016. Roughly 1,100 exhibitors from 40 countries showcased the latest trends, technologies and styling techniques in their respective categories across 400,000 square feet of exhibition space.
According to many show veterans, Orlando is an attraction unto itself. “You see a lot of international people,” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville. “They make it a family trip; everyone comes for the house of [Mickey Mouse].”
Alena Capra, Coverings industry ambassador, noted the difference in introductions on the show floor due to the surrounding areas. “It’s a big draw—people from all over the country and globe come here. But a lot of what we’re seeing is appealing to the markets here. We’re so close to the Bahamas and all of the islands that exhibitors are showing some pinks and blues with that tropical feel. You also see a lot of terrazzo, and that’s because people in South Florida restore terrazzo all day long. It’s original to a lot of the older homes.”
The location of the show wasn’t the only thing that made a comeback this year. Exhibitors and attendees alike agreed that some familiar looks were coming back into play on the show floor, albeit with a few new twists.
“Just like everything I always relate it to fashion,” Capra explained. “I’ve seen trends come full circle so many times; I think about clothes my mom wore and I’m wearing them today. It comes back but it changes each time. For example, subway tiles have never gone away but they keep changing. The classic shape remains.”
Some of these re-emerging trends include warmer tones and industrial looks. Crossville’s Notorious is just one example. The collection comes in six neutral colors, in a range of sizes from 24 x 36 to 3 x 15, and coordinates with the company’s Surfaces wood-look launch: Nest.
“It’s a neutral industry, but what I like here is it’s a nice mix of warm and cool,” Waldrep said. “There are many rustic, carved-into-concrete looks. Ours is very soft, very uniform. There are a couple of marks in it to really suggest concrete.”
Another resurging trend is the return of the traditional cotto look with a little variation. That was evident in Dal-Tile’s Ragno Epoca collection, which comes in three colors. Micah Hand, brand marketing manager at Marazzi, Ragno’s sister brand, called it the “perfect mix of old and new. We saw a lot of cotto in Cersaie, but we’re mixing it with a lot of modern, sleek designs. That’s where I see this coming back in an updated way.”
Hand added that accessories such as furniture or countertops also play a big role in using cotto. “We want to make sure designers and consumers understand how to utilize tile in different ways to achieve a more modern or urban look.”
Crossville’s Laminam for the wall also showcased a similar style. Calce is a new cotto look that comes in five colors while Cava is a new stone look available in three colors. Both are 1m x 3m porcelain tile panels. Waldrep noted that although its large panels have given popularity to the Laminam collection in the past, inkjet technologies have allowed the products to advance in visuals as well.
“It’s just a resurgence of retro, and I think part of it is everything has a cycle. Cotto is a classic look and it’s time for it to raise its head again. As technology moves ahead, we think about how and where we can apply it.”
MS International focused largely on wall offerings as well. “While there is no reason a floor tile can’t go on the wall, there are a lot of cool design elements you can create with a wall tile,” said Emily Holle, director of trend and design, national marketing. The company’s Dymo is an upgraded subway tile and incorporates texture into three all-white patterns: wavy tile, stripes and a flat body tile. The tiles come in 12 x 24 with creative 3-D effects. “So if you weren’t so risky and you just want to do a strip of accents you could. However, you can always do a full accent wall of one of these three-dimensional looks.”
Larger formats prevail
In keeping with the trend toward bigger sizes, Marazzi introduced a number of large format collections including Classentino Marble and Château Reserve. Classentino Marble features five natural marble looks in 12 x 24, 24 x 24 and 24 x 48. The polished collection coordinates with a classic weave mosaic while an elongated hexagon mosaic accents the matte finish. Château Reserve is a wood look series that comes in 6 x 48, 8 x 48 and 12 x 48 planks in five colors, with printing technologies being used to target glossy areas for a real wood look.
Many exhibitors at the show turned their focus to outdoor flooring options. Ragno introduced Real Stone Quartzite, a drastic, rustic stone look that comes in two colors and gives consumers the ability to achieve a natural stone look outside with the durability, cleanability and easy maintenance of porcelain tile. Hand explained that more and more outdoor hospitality commercial spaces are using the 2cm thick paper because it’s easy to install in different areas. On the other hand, it can be used to transition straight from inside to a patio, backyard, etc.
Del Conca USA’s Due2 is also a 2cm thick porcelain tile, with anti-slip and weather-resistant features. Its natural, curved edges are made for quick and easy installations over grass, sand and gravel. It is also suitable for terraces or rooftops because it allows rainwater to flow below the flooring where it is collected on a waterproof membrane.
“Outdoor flooring is a big trend we’re starting to see in the industry,” said Melissa Weisberg, representative for Ceramics of Italy. “We’re seeing flooring not just around pools, but also flooring systems that allow for installation over grass, pebbles or rocks. It allows for more of an authentic feel.”