Coverings 2000: An International Bazaar of Ceramic and Stone
“We’re not in the carpet business,” he replied.
It is an anomaly when Disney World takes the no. 2 position on the “to do” lists of visitors to Orlando, FL. But from May 2-5, the Mouse and his cohorts were indeed a secondary consideration — at least to the more-than 20,000 visitors and exhibitors at Coverings 2000.
Coverings is the largest U.S.-based assemblage of ceramic tile, stone and accessory products, according to show organizers. Coverings 2000 saw more than 1,100 companies bring close to 14 million pounds of freight into the Orange County Convention Center for the four-day event. Nearly 50 countries from around the world were represented at this year’s trade show and conference.
Statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department give some weight to the show’s increasingly global representation. Ceramic tile imports for 1998 were up more than 20% over the previous year to more than 1.2 billion square feet. Overall, 1998 tile consumption in the United States reached upwards of 1.8 billion square feet, a 14% increase compared to 1997.
One of the many benefits that Coverings attendees enjoy is access to the vast wealth of information compiled by major ceramic industry players, both domestic and foreign. On May 2, members of Assopiastrelle (the Association of Italian Ceramic Tile Manufacturers) and the Italian Trade Commission presented a brief look at the Italian ceramic tile industry, as well as its most recent promotional activities in the U.S. marketplace. Guided tours of the 100,000-plus-square-foot Italian Pavilion gave participants a closer look at the newest innovations from the more than 120 Italian exhibitors who made the journey across the Atlantic.
Nearby, the 90,993-square-foot Pavilion of Spain was the temporary home to 141 Spanish producers of ceramic tile and related products. Visitors to the area were given a look at the latest advances in ceramic tile technology — including Diago Ceramicas’ Ligeramica, a winner of the prestigious Alfa de Oro award at Cevisama 2000 earlier this year. At the “State of Spain’s Tile Industry” press conference, Pedro Riaza, president of Spain’s Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER), remarked, “These latest innovations reflect the importance of research in our industry.”
Visitors to Coverings 2000 had the opportunity to view the latest developments and designs in tile and stone technology, network with new and existing contacts from around the world, and attend seminars conducted by some of the top professionals in the ceramic and stone industry. The 400,000-plus-square-foot occupation filled a half-mile of exhibit hall, and even spilled out into the adjoining entryways.
The Coverings “Solution Source” Conference — comprised of more than 100 conferences and seminars in all — spanned the whole of the ceramic tile and stone industry, offering sessions of interest to distributors, interior designers, importers, and everyone in between. Topics included Latest Technology in Tile and Stone Installation Materials, Marketing to the Architectural and Design Community, How to Develop Your Tile Contracting Business, and Straight Talk on Substrates, among others.
The domestic exhibitor list read like a “who’s who” of the U.S. ceramic and stone industry. Crossville Ceramics, Florida Tile and Custom Building Products were all in attendance, as was Laticrete. Q.E.P., in the news recently for its aggressive acquisition spree, also maintained a visible presence in the exhibition hall.
Beyond the obvious ceramic tile and stone, products and services on display included: abrasives; anti-slip treatments; sponges; floor heating devices; stain removers; waterjet systems; moldings; marble; and display systems, as well as many others.
In general, visible trends in ceramic tile for 2000 seem to be following the path of individuality. A wider than ever variety of designs and finishes characterized this year’s event. Additionally, many tile manufacturers debuted signature lines by renowned artists. Mosaics seemed to be catching fire as artistic pieces unto themselves, instead of being restricted simply as accents to a larger design. And porcelain stone tiles continue to grow in both presence and popularity throughout the industry.
Coverings 2000 was sponsored in part by ASCER; Assopiastrelle; the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA); the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA); and the Tile Council of America (TCA).