By Megan Salzano After a two-year hiatus, Coverings 2021, the largest international tile and stone exhibition and conference in North America, will host its in-person trade show event July 7-9, in Orlando, Fla., at the North Hall of the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC).
The pandemic caused the show to cancel its 2020 event just one month prior to its scheduled kickoff date. April 2019 was the last time Coverings held an in-person show, and organizers say the industry is ready to meet and greet in person once again. “Now that we’re coming out of the pandemic and things are opening back up, we’re pretty excited about getting back to business,” Jennifer Hoff, president of Taffy Event Strategies, the event planning company for Coverings, told FCNews. “For the show, we’re bringing back some of the popular floor areas that people get excited about, but the beauty of Coverings is the exhibit hall—all of the exhibitors from all over the world—and being able to see the latest trends in real life. We think there is going to be a lot of excitement and energy at the show; people are really looking to get back out in the world.”
Coverings 2021 is among the first of the larger industry trade shows to host an in-person event in the U.S., and while attendance isn’t expected to reach normal levels, organizers say they are optimistic. “We’re among the first trailblazers to host a large show coming out of the pandemic, so we’re not expecting the same attendance levels of the 2019 show, but they are definitely signing up across all the attendee sectors,” Hoff said. “We have 20 countries represented on the show floor and more than 340 companies that are signed up in about 275,000 gross square feet of space.”
Tried and true
Features returning to Coverings for 2021 include international pavilions, tile and stone exhibits from around the globe, live installation demonstrations, Coverings Installation and Design (CID) Awards, Rock Stars and complimentary educational opportunities.
Free classes will include continuing education units (CEUs) and feature sessions, demonstrations, roundtables, live interviews with industry thought leaders and industry forums. Coverings organizers said the show’s top-rated education is geared to provide attendees with the knowledge, solutions and business-building resources required to excel in the tile and stone industry in 2021 and beyond.
Featured educational sessions are highlighted in three tracks: Installation & Fabrication, Workforce & Profits and Materials & Trends. The Installation & Fabrication sessions at Coverings 2021 aim to provide attendees with a wealth of information regarding industry best practices and cutting-edge techniques in installation and fabrication, show organizers said. The Workforce & Profits sessions are designed to help attendees discover new and successful business practices and tactics to better grow and manage their business. The Materials & Trends sessions will include talks on tile trends, environmental responsiblity and more.
Also returning for 2021 is the Installation Demonstration Stage, which will offer attendees the opportunity to observe live, interactive showcases of cutting-edge tile installation techniques. The experiential programming aims to engage attendees representing all professional trade segments and deliver a holistic view of the tile industry’s standards and best practices.
To provide show-goers with the ability to maximize their experiences each day for their first in-person Coverings event in nearly 28 months, the show will pivot to a time-optimized schedule for 2021. The exhibit hall will be open Wednesday, July 7, and Thursday, July 8, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The show floor will also be open Friday, July 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
New to Coverings 2021 will also be the Coverings Lounge, Society of American Mosaic Artists exhibits and co-location with the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). “The Coverings Lounge will feature a lot of educational sessions in addition to our traditional programming,” Hoff explained. “There will be coffee in the morning and beer in the afternoon. We want to have a great place for people to meet and network.”
In addition, mosaic tile projects will be unveiled by Luna Mosaic Arts and the NTCA in the Coverings Lounge. Visitors can expect to see Luna Mosaic Arts creating a 10 x 10-foot to 10 x 20-foot tile mosaic on site during the show, with additional mosaic projects on display. The NTCA will present a live broadcast demonstration of designing, building and installing a mosaic tile project, highlighting the historical importance of tile installation as an artisan craft.
“We are thrilled to share the steps and advanced methods used by our NTCA artisan team to design a custom mosaic creation, specifically for Coverings 2021,” said Bart Bettiga, executive director of the NTCA. “Our members comprise contractors, distributors and manufacturers who are gearing up for Coverings 2021 to gain access to the most innovative tile and stone products, networking opportunities and new business skills and growth.”
Coverings is also partnering with the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) to show- case another dimension of ceramic tile and inspire attendees during the July event. The SAMA will display two exhibits in the North Hall Lobby: “One Hundred Moments in Mosaics,” and “Mosaic Arts International.”
Finally, Coverings 2021 will be hosted alongside the NWFA 2021 Wood Flooring Expo, for the first time. Coverings 2021 will be held in the OCCC’s North Hall while the NWFA Expo will be held in the South Hall. Hoff said attendees who register for either event will have access to both exhibit halls. “We’re looking forward to being with [the NWFA] in early July, seeing how it goes and building on that relationship, which we’ve always had with them,” she said. “As the world and the trade show landscape is changing, I would not say [co- hosting again in the future] is out of the question.”
Ceramics of Italy will return to the show to showcase an array of brand-new ceramic and porcelain tile collections and installation products in the center’s North Hall. The pavilion will feature a refreshed central booth that will provide a hub for hospitality and information from Italy.
This year, visitors will also find a new version of the Ceramics of Italy booth “Strada Dinamica.” Designed by e+i Studio, the booth was modeled after an Italian streetscape and features tiled furnishings. The booth will feature an info kiosk and a meeting point to enjoy authentic Italian coffee and gelato with Italian ceramic industry representatives.
Tile of Spain, the international brand representing more than 120 ceramic tile manufacturers from Spain, will again host the Spanish Pavilion at the show, which will explore rich collections as well as a full range of ceramic formats and applications from more that 40 Spanish manufacturers.
The Tile of Spain booth will feature educational seminars and video presentations, including award-winning architectural and design projects and an overview of Tile of Spain manufacturers’ achievements.