A mix of industry professionals including retailers, designers, architects and contractors are expected to attend Coverings 2007 this month.

More than 33,000 people from around the world who are involved in the ceramic and stone tile industry are expected to descend on Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center this month for what promises to be a memorable Coverings. The April 17-20 gathering will mark the 20th anniversary of  a meeting that has grown dramatically in both size and stature over the last two decades. 

To mark the occasion, show organizers have added a unique twist: architectural and design professionals are encouraged to bring a VIP client or two with them, free of charge. The promotion is expected to help those on the client side appreciate the rich diversity of products available and perhaps build a closer relationship between the two sides. Those on hand will also have access to more than 75 educational seminars and demonstrations that enable attendees to gain ASID credits and AIA continuing education credits. The international flavor of the show will also be underscored by pavilions devoted to products from special nations, including Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.

The meeting will begin with a keynote address from Bernard M. Markstein, III, director of forecasting for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). He is expected to offer a forecast on home building trends and their impact on the tile and stone business. Also, Richard Meier, renowned architect of The Getty Center in Los Angeles, is set to offer perspective for attendees.

Additional noteworthy presenters include: Leatrice Eiseman of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training/Pantone Color Institute; author Heather E. Adams, founder and co-owner of Florida Natural Stone Design; consultant, speaker and author Charles Vander Kooi; designer Nancy Epstein, founder and CEO of Artistic Tile; Jonathan Trivers of Marketing Wit and Wisdom; and consultant Patti Fasan of Professional Attention to Tile Installation.

The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) are sponsoring a series of hour-long installation demonstration workshops including: “Floor and Wall Preparation”; “Proper Layout”; “Thin-set Mixing and Application Procedures”; “Thin-set Tile Application”; “Cement Grouting”; “Epoxy Grouting”; and “Expansion Joints.”

Also expected to rev up interest,  one lucky showgoer will win a 2007 Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy. The motorcycle giveaway is just one of many “special events” organizers have planned.

Another highlight: Winners of the Spectrum Awards (for tile use in Architecture) and the Prism Awards (for use of stone) will be honored during the show’s opening ceremony. The coveted awards recognize the best, most creative projects made using ceramic tile and natural stone. Two Grand Prize awards each include a $10,000 cash prize.

Coverings is also planning two Appreciation Nights. The first is slated for 6 to 8 p.m. April 18. An exclusive event for architects and designers, the evening will take place at Chicago Illuminating Co. Additionally, at the close of the show on Thursday, organizers are hosting an attendee Appreciation Night at Chicago’s House of Blues. The event, sponsored by the TCNA, Tile of Spain and Turkish Ceramic organizations, is complimentary to those presenting their Coverings badge at the door.  For more information, visit www.coverings.com.