Coverings Connected engages tile industry

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of business for the flooring industry, including its ability to host traditional trade shows. Coverings Connected, held April 20-23, was the first of many to go digital. The show touted live educational sessions, on-demand webinars and spoke to the economic outlook of the tile industry.

While it’s still unclear how the pandemic will impact the tile industry in the future, the U.S. Tile Consumption Report, released by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) just prior to the show, already points toward trouble ahead.

The report stated that while many key economic indicators were positive in 2019—as the U.S. economy experienced its tenth consecutive year of expansion on the heels of the Great Recession—the American ceramic tile market did not follow suit, declining for the first time in a decade.

However, Tile of Spain said it sees promise in the U.S. tile market. Ryan Fasan, Tile of Spain’s technical consultant and tile and stone expert, helped kick off Coverings Connected with a discussion on the state of the tile market from Tile of Spain’s perspective.

According to Fasan, the U.S. has become a critical market for the Spanish manufacturing segment. Furthermore, product development, marketing and education have turned to focus on North American needs.

Data showed Tile of Spain has grown to represent 18.5% of U.S. market imports by value, making it the second highest. It is also the third highest by volume at 16.9%. The U.S. is now the second top consumer of tile produced in Spain—France being No. 1.

“These numbers are incredible given the bearish trend in the U.S. market in terms of imports, which are down 7.4% by value and 5.2% by volume,” Fasan said. “We’ve been building this exponential growth for years. Market share has doubled by value and more than doubled by volume since 2015. It means big things in terms of where product development, promotion and marketing are going.”

What’s trending

One major talking point during the Coverings Connected digital experience was trends. From macro to micro, trends in the world of tile and stone were front and center this year. The TCNA, Ceramics of Italy and Tile of Spain each discussed several trends poised to impact tile design in the coming year.

Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville, who spoke on behalf of the TCNA during the “Global Trends” webinar, named four macro trends expected to impact tile design. “These trends started before our current state of being,” she noted. “It’s going to be really interesting to see how those trends are going to be affected and how they shift with our reactions to COVID-19 and social distancing.”

Those four macro trends are as follows:

  • Mindfully Modern
  • Sophisticated Shapes
  • Greek Revival
  • Rural Chic

During Tile of Spain’s virtual press conference, Fasan outlined five macro trends. “What we’re exposed to everyday starts building our preferences—the trends and things we’re connected with,” he noted. “That starts to tell us the overall macro view of what’s going to be relevant for ceramics.”

Fasan outlined the five trends as follows:

  • Maximalism evolution—A transition to abstract expressionism
  • Aftermath mash-up—A pattern emerges
  • Chalk it up to progress—Hyper-matte & flat colors
  • Luxury is personal—The dissonant glamour perspective
  • Terra firma—Reconnection with the Earth

Ceramics of Italy also had a voice in the trends conversation. However, the group took a micro lens approach, and—after reviewing hundreds of new product launches from Ceramics of Italy member companies—released six trends for the 2020 spring-summer season.

Those six trends are as follows:

  • Biophilia
  • Blue
  • Geometric stone
  • Material stone
  • Oxides
  • Texture

Award season

While the show could not be held in person, it still found time to honor its 2020 award winners. From Coverings itself to International tile groups, award season was in full swing for the tile industry.

Coverings announced 14 winners of the 2020 Rock Star Awards—a program that recognizes emerging leaders in the industry. The program commemorated its sixth year.

“Coverings is honored to welcome this exceptional group of emerging leaders into the Rock Star program,” said Jennifer Hoff, president of Taffy Event Strategies, LLC, the event management firm for Coverings. “We look forward to seeing continued advancement and evolution for each of these young professionals as well as the impactful contributions they will continue to bring to the tile and stone industry.”

The winners included those from categories such as distribution, retail, manufacturing and installation. See the full list here.

Coverings also named the 18 projects to receive the Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards for 2020. The CID Awards celebrate outstanding achievements in the design and installation of tile and stone in both residential and commercial projects.

“We were truly impressed with all of the project submissions we received for this year’s CID Awards program,” Hoff added. “However, there were 18 projects that superbly demonstrated the versatility of tile and stone. Coverings is honored to award and recognize their creative and sophisticated applications of tile and stone, each of which showcases the latest industry advances and trends.”

The submissions were based on execution, original usage and overall design and purpose. Special recognition was given to those projects exemplifying spectacular applications. Projects were awarded using eight categorical designations: Residential Tile Installation, Residential Tile Design, Residential Stone Installation, Residential Stone Design, Commercial Tile Installation, Commercial Tile Design, Commercial Stone Installation, and Commercial Stone Design. See the full list of winners, here.

Ceramics of Italy also announced award winners during the virtual event. The winners of the 2020 Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition included eight projects from across North America that were recognized for showcasing the beauty and versatility of Italian tile.

After reviewing a record number of outstanding projects from all across North America, the international jury of design experts selected four winners and three honorable mentions. The chosen projects demonstrate creative use of Italian ceramic tile, representing all three built project categories— commercial, residential and institutional—and one student category. For the first time this year, the competition also featured a People’s Choice Award. See the full list, here.

Each year, Ceramics of Italy also honors an exemplary North American tile distributor with the North American Distributor Award. This year was no different, and Centura Tile took home the title.

The group said Centura Tile represented a brand that lives and breathes a dedication to sharing ceramics with North America, coast to coast. Not only does it have many long-standing relationships with Italian tile manufacturers that date back 30 years, it also plans annual trips with architects and designers to the factories/showrooms of Sassuolo, Italy.

For more on the Coverings Connected digital trade show, see the upcoming April 30/May 4 issue of FCNews.

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