NEW YORK-Hundeds of  retailers, architects, and contractors from throughout the New York Metropolitan area joined Daltile in late March for a two-day celebration marking the debut of a new upscale tile and stone gallery here.

The 5,000-square-foot street level space here is one of three new tile and stone galleries the Dallas-based division of Mohawk Industries has opened in recent months. The new galleries – here, in Chicago and in San Diego – are the company’s seventh, eighth and ninth design centers. In addition to the three latest galleries, Daltile has tile and stone galleries in Anaheim, Calif.; Atlanta; Dallas; Houston; Las Vegas; and Salt Lake City. All feature Daltile’s extensive line of tile and natural stone products from around the world.

“One of the things we think is really important is providing people an environment where they can see a wide variety of high-end, more sophisticated materials,” Daltile executive vice president Matt Kahny said during the first day of the Manhattan grand opening celebration. “This gives us the opportunity to present our products in a way that will help people understand all of the possibilities these materials have.”

Resembling chic art galleries with material samples stylishly mounted on the walls and staffed by designers familiar with the wide variety of material on display, Daltile’s stone and tile galleries have proved invaluable to flooring retailers, architects and contractors since the first gallery was opened four years ago.

“Whether it’s for a residential renovation or new construction, dealers can use the galleries to help their customers select tile or stone for their projects, as well as to help them visualize what the tile will look like compared to other elements of the design,” marketing director Lori Kirk-Rolley said.

Kahny and Kirk-Rolley said Daltile hopes the new design centers will draw attention to how far tile and stone flooring has evolved in recent years to play a key role in many dealers businesses. During the Manhattan opening Kahny noted that creating an adequate merchandising display is increasingly becoming a challenge for those who sell tile and stone.

“There are a lot of retailers who are working more with ceramic tile and stone who don’t have the space to showcase the products,” he said. “This space acts as a sort of adjunct showroom for these stores.’’

-Richard Monks