With Coverings making its Atlanta debut from April 29-May 2, Ceramics of Italy welcomes the southern A&D community to experience Italian hospitality in “Piazza Ceramica.” Organized by Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) with support from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, Piazza Ceramica is located in the heart of the Italian Pavilion and serves as a central hub of activity and hospitality at the show. With a large open gathering space, piazza-like steps, and a dedicated Italian culinary team in the popular café and coffee bar, it is the perfect place for attendees to gather on the show floor. With an informational booth handing out the latest promotional materials on the Italian tile industry and nearly 50 exhibits from Italy’s leading tile manufacturers, it is also a source of design inspiration.

Piazza Ceramica

Since 1991, Ceramics of Italy has partnered with prominent architecture studios such as Bernard Tschumi, Aldo Rossi and Arquitectonica to create an exhibit during Coverings that does not only inspire, but also serves the very functional purposes of reception, info point, café and trattoria. After wowing audiences last year and receiving an Event Design Award from Event Design magazine, “Piazza Ceramica” returns to Coverings in Atlanta to serve as Ceramics of Italy’s central stand.

Designed by e+i studio, a dynamic architecture and design firm based in New York, Piazza Ceramica transforms the 3,000 square foot Ceramics of Italy pavilion into a colorful, inviting and topographic piazza. In the center of the pavilion, a large open gathering space serves as a social hub on the tradeshow floor. Guests can enjoy coffee and pastries in the morning, authentic Italian cuisine for lunch, and an open aperitivo in the afternoon, all prepared by the pavilion’s long-running Italian culinary team: Carlo Donadoni and Graziano Sbroggio from Spuntino in Miami.

As the focal point of the Italian tile industry during Coverings, the architects designed the pavilion itself to be a design showcase. From the floors and walls to the steps and countertops, nearly every surface is wrapped in Italian tile, demonstrating a range of products from Italian manufacturers including: Atlas Concorde; Caesar; Emilceramica; Fioranese; Floor Gres; Lea and Marazzi. On two sides of the exhibit, tile-clad steps in a gradient of colors essentially lift the corners of the pavilion to reveal the ever-popular café, coffee bar and information booth, which also doubles as seating. The floor tiles, set on a raised flooring system, also feature water-jet cut porcelain tiles from Italy.

Surrounding the central stand of the Italian Pavilion, nearly 50 exhibits of Ceramics of Italy member manufacturers will showcase the latest tile products – from hi-tech porcelains to hand-made ceramics. This year’s trend forecast features everything from long ceramic planks, 2cm thick tiles, super slim tiles, and easy laying floors to geometric patterns, 3D textures, micromosaics and majolica-inspired tiles. In addition to tiles with recycled content, new sustainable initiatives such as antibacterial and self-cleaning will also be prominent at the show.  

Those looking for project inspiration should also head to the Italian Pavilion for a special exhibit on the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition. Now celebrating its 20th year, the contest showcases the work of prominent North American architects and designers who use Italian tile in their residential, commercial and institutional projects. The exhibit will demonstrate how the A&D community has used Italian tile in new and innovative ways over the past two decades. Past winners include Belzberg Architects, Rene Gonzalez and Leo A Daly.

Announcements and awards

The annual Ceramics of Italy Press Conference will take place on Tuesday, April 30 at 4:00PM where representatives from the association will discuss the state of the industry. They will also announce the winners of the 2013 Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition in the institutional, residential and commercial/hospitality categories. Immediately following, Ceramics of Italy will host a cocktail party in Piazza Ceramica and announce the recipient of the coveted North American Distributor Award, which celebrates the close connection between Italian tile manufacturers and their valued North American partners.

Installation Design Showcase

For the fourth edition of the show’s popular Installation Design Showcase, Ceramics of Italy is teaming up with Atlanta designers Margaret Nysewander and Michael Neiswander, of the multidisciplinary design firm ASD, Inc., to build a fully functional bar and lounge space on the show floor. Using tiles from several Italian tile companies, the design team will create a sculptural bar with bold angles that plays with scale and texture. Clad in red-tone tiles ranging from magenta to ruby red, the bar will be set in a bright, white environment, making it the brilliant focal point of the setting. Working with installers from RimRock Design, which was recently awarded a Five Star Contractor designation by NTCA, the exhibit will be built in real time in front of attendees to demonstrate the highest level of design and installation excellence at Coverings.

Those looking for innovative building materials at Coverings should head to the Italian pavilion for inspiration. Ceramics of Italy will also be posting live updates and new product introductions from the Georgia World Congress Center on its Facebook(facebook.com/CeramicTilesOfItaly), Twitter (@TilesofItaly) and Pinterest (pinterest.com/ceramicsofitaly) pages.