Bart Bettiga: On the Industry, Coverings, and the Members of NTCA

What’s new with the tile industry? From standards for finding the right installer, to the future of the industry, Bart Bettiga, Executive Director at the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) has some advice and insights for the Coverings Community.
NTCA represents tile installation companies and suppliers and producers of tile and installation materials, and are active in the development of standards and we promote professional installation and ethical business practices. As such, Mr. Bettiga is able to report back from the front lines on our industry:

1.    What are typical problems your customers come to you with and how do you help them solve these problems?
Our members come to us for support in many situations.  In particular, we have often been supportive in areas of business or technical assistance.  In one instance, a member of ours sought our help in a very large hotel project. The architect had specified a very large tile for the walls with a very narrow grout width.  The installation crews had done everything right, and yet the combination of lighting and the allowable variance of the tile sizing caused the installation to be rejected by the architect on the first few floors of a high-rise project.  After consulting with our technical team, we submitted a letter on our members behalf, backed by recognized standards, that this situation was unrealistic with the type of tile being used with the grout width recommended. Instead of a costly tear out and re-installation, the architect approved widening the grout joint, and moving and relocating the lighting fixtures.  This resulted in saving our member over $100,000 if they would have had to tear out and re-install the existing installation.  

2.    Do you have a rant? Or some “conventional wisdom” you’d like to debate?
This one is easy and quite important.  And it is really obvious yet it consistently is ignored in many cases.  Ceramic tile is beautiful and will last forever, but only if it is installed correctly.  Too often, the focus on the project is on getting the lowest price for the installation, instead of finding the most qualified bid. I tell people all the time.  When you are looking for an installer, get multiple bids.  Make sure the company that bids on your project has a proven track record of success in the type of work you require.  Compare the bids and accept the lowest qualified bid, not the lowest price.  Tile is a permanent finish, and often job failures impact other areas in the home, and replacement is both costly and uncomfortable for anyone who resides there.  You can avoid this by hiring the most qualified installation company, and unfortunately this trend of looking for lowest price continues to plague our industry.  

3.    Do you have any industry predictions for the coming year? What’s on the horizon in your business?
One thing we are concerned with is recruiting new people into our trade, especially installers. We have spent thousands of dollars and a lot of staff time developing an on line education program, an apprenticeship program is in development, and we will begin a marketing strategy to take our message to high schools and other groups that may be interested in a rewarding career.  There are many great opportunities in the tile industry, and we feel that the trades, and especially ceramic tile, have been overlooked in the school systems, and we think we need to take this message to counselors and career advisors.  We have ramped up our efforts to further develop certification to go along with apprenticeship. In this way, a young person entering our trade will see a clear path towards developing a career, with monetary compensation growing as they further their learning skills and develop a trade.  

4.    How has being involved in Coverings helped your business?
How does your company, or you personally, benefit by participating each year? Being involved as a sponsoring association in Coverings has allowed NTCA to gain visibility both nationally and internationally.  We have used this platform to cultivate associate partnerships with manufacturers and suppliers from all over the world.  We also are involved in developing educational programs at the show, positively impacting best practices related to installing tile and stone.  We create a networking opportunity at Coverings for our members, so that they can share ideas and discuss common problems and offer solutions to help each other.  We hear all the time of business relationships that have been developed at Coverings that NTCA helped facilitate.  

5.    What 3 tips would you give to “newbies” who have never attended a Coverings show? 
1. Plan your day and your schedule.  The exhibit hall is extremely large.  Fortunately, it is laid out very well, with country pavilions helping to guide you.  Use the Internet tools the show offers to plan your meetings and exhibits you wish to see.  You can waste a lot of time wandering around looking at the incredible exhibits, so I suggest developing a plan of attack before you get there.
2. Visit an association sponsor for assistance and guidance.  If you are a contractor, visit the National Tile Contractors Association. Tile Distributors should see the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association, etc.  There are several associations present and we can provide assistance in navigating the show floor and make suggestions for site visits. More importantly, we can connect you to other attendees, helping you network and meet new people, and invite you to events on the show floor and after hours. This will create a much more positive show experience.  
3. Take advantage of the Conference Program, both on the show floor and in the conference rooms. Everything is completely free, which is unusual for a trade show of this size.  We spend a lot of time developing conference programming, and there is something for everyone that can bring value.  When I first attended Coverings many years ago, the conference program allowed me to take many ideas back to my company and put them into practice. 
For more information on Bart, and the National Tile Contractors Association:
Registration for Coverings is open! 

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Ceramics of Italy Shares Trend Forecasts for 2017

It’s that time of the year again! As we near Coverings 2017, we are looking back to Cersaie 2016 to see what trends our Italian exhibitors will showcase at the Ceramics of Italy pavilion this year.
Ceramics of Italy was on-site at Cersaie to report back on the tile trends they’re seeing around the world, and shared which trends they think will dominate the 2017 show floor. Take a look, and let us know which trends you’re most excited for:
Trend 1: Against the Grain
Wood continues to serve as a major muse for the tile industry. Companies have added their own style, utilizing new production methods to create the look of exotic and rare hardwoods but remain sustainable and highlight the beautiful imperfections of wood. Ceramics of Italy exhibitors Del Conca, Unica, Cerdisa, and Marca Corona will be showing off these trends at Coverings 2017.

Caption: (L-R): Del Conca Gran Paradiso, Unica Woodlines, Cerdisa Natura, Marca Corona Essences
Trend 2: Bits & Pieces
Playful visual narratives are created by randomly assorting fragmented pieces of tile. Natural stone with a conglomerate look, or manual processing, has inspired this trend. You can see bits and pieces of this trend with Ceramics of Italy exhibitors Atlas Concorde, Sant’Agostino, Fioranese, and Fap.

Caption: (L-R): Atlas Concorde Marvel Gems, Sant’Agostino Set, Fioranese Marmocrea, Fap Maku
Trend 3: Black & Blue
Intense black with matte finishes are making a strong statement this year despite black always being in style (in fact, trend spotter Alena Capra saw fixtures in Matte Black this year too). Blue tile, with an expansion beyond marine palettes, now includes dusty, vibrant, and sophisticated hues. Get the blues with these Italian exhibitors at Coverings 2017: Sicis, Refin, Bardelli, 41zero42.

Caption: (L-R): Sicis Vetrite, Refin Arte Pura, Bardelli Sofia, 41zero42 Hops
Trend 4: Gritty Chic
This year, the term texture has taken on a new meaning. Companies continually innovate using plaster, concrete, metal and resin as they design elegant industrial surfaces, or intentional corrosion and weathering on tile. See these styles on the Coverings 2017 show floor with Italian exhibitors Supergres, La Fabbrica, Faetano, and Cedit.

Caption: (L-R): Supergres Art, La Fabbrica Lascaux, Faetano Cor-Ten, Cedit Archeologie
Trend 5: Mega Marble
A low maintenance and low cost alternative for designers, who appreciate the look of marble, is porcelain tile. Digital printing has pushed the envelope, making it difficult to recognize the material as different and has made porcelain available in several finishes. Ceramics of Italy exhbitors Atlas Concorde, Italgraniti, Ava, and Novabell will share mega marble tiles at Coverings 2017.

Caption: (L-R): Atlas Concorde Marvel XL, Italgraniti Mega, Ava Copacabana, Novabell Imperia
Trend 6: Metallics
Metallics are moving in. Bronze, platinum, and gold are key players acting as inserts or decorative accents to add a touch of glamour to designs. Unica, Casamood, ABK, and 41zero42 will be exhibiting metallic styles on the show floor this year.

Caption: (L-R): Unica Brique, Casamood Neutra 6.0, ABK Alpes, 41zero42 Loop
Trend 7: Retro Revival
Borrowing elements from the past and infusing them with contemporary ideas creates something entirely new. At the forefront in 2017 are tile that references historical movements such as the elegance from art deco or the bold shapes of Memphis. See the revival live at Coverings 2017 with these Ceramics of Italy exhibitors: Verde1999, Ornamenta, and Petracer.

Caption: (L-R): Francesco de Maio Blu Ponti, Verde1999 Aria, Ornamenta 80s, Petracer Swing
Trend 8: Rustic Modern
A new twist on a classic style as wood, stone, brick, and cotton are redeveloped through modern laying schemes, hues, and patterns. The blending of farmhouse charm and modern elegance is accentuated in 2017 with metallic accents, distressed wood planks, and geometric patterns. Ceramics of Italy exhibitors Settecento, Tagina, Fap, and Novabell will offer up their take on this trend at Coverings.

Caption: (L-R): Settecento Proxi, Tagina Rivamancina, Fap Firenze Heritage, Novabell Materia
Trend 9: Seamless
Tile offers the perfect solution to create a contemporary fresco by combining the tactile appeal of wallpaper with the durability of ceramic. Italian manufacturers are giving designers the tools to create a beautifully seamless surface with thin porcelain tile panels and mesh-mounted mosaics to patterns that traverse a single tile’s dimensions. Ornamenta, Panaria, Cotto d’Este and Appiani will be sharing seamless styles at this year’s show.

Caption: (L-R): Ornamenta Oplus, Panaria Urbanature, Cotto d’Este Wonderwall, Appiani Texture
Trend 10: Warp & Weft
Designs ranging from lace, macramé, and linen to masculine suiting fabrics such as leather whether woven or layered together, add a tactile element to the hard tile surface. Texture is the defining character of this year’s tile collections. See these designs live with Coverings 2017 exhibitors Ariana, Sant’Agostino, Fondovalle, and Del Conca.

Caption: (L-R): Ariana Crea, Sant’Agostino TailorArt, Fondovalle Dream, Del Conca Stone City
Thank you to Ceramics of Italy for sharing their trends for 2017. You can see all these and more at Coverings 2017 in Orlando. Registration is open now.

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Coverings Trade Show Announces National Tile Day & Why Tile Contest

On February 23, 2017, the industry recognizes and celebrates National Tile Day, a tribute to the many roles tile plays around the world in architecture and design. Coverings founded National Tile Day this year to give credit to the benefits of using tile in design projects, and to bring professionals in the industry together to describe how they work with tile.
Tile finds its way into rooms in every home from outdoor spaces, kitchens and bathrooms, and from commercial to industrial spaces. Tile is utilized for its sustainability, durability, and energy efficiency over other materials but also simply because of the elevated esthetic it provides to any room.
Leading up to the day, industry professionals can post on Twitter and Instagram about why they choose tile and by sharing examples of projects using the #WhyTile and #Coverings2017.

Why do we love tile? It makes the perfect oasis.

To learn more about National Tile Day, follow Coverings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and head to National Tile Day on the Coverings website! 

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Alena Capra Shares Color Trends in Kitchen and Bath

I had the opportunity to attend KBIS in Orlando on behalf of Coverings. This year’s show was a great one; there was so much to see! KBIS made its return to Orlando for the first time in the last few years. I must say, I enjoy shows at the Orange County Convention Center, and am excited that Coverings will be back there in just a few short months! Don’t forget to register online to attend Coverings in Orlando, April 4-7!  
As I walked the show floor of KBIS, I noticed some new finish and appliance colors that were different than what I had seen before. Brands were showing off beautiful new finishes like rose gold, blush, bronze, and some really nice brass finishes. These tones were so soft and pretty, and will compliment some of the new tile trends we expect to see at Coverings. True design is in the details, and I think small updates like hardware can make a kitchen or bath more unique.   

Another finish that I saw throughout the show was matte black. While the finish itself isn’t new, I noticed that many new manufacturers were offering matte black as an option. It’s an essential faucet finish color that has seen resurgence with the popularity of all black and white kitchens and baths. I have received a lot of requests for this look, and have always been able to identify the perfect matching countertops or backsplashes. I’ll be sure to scout for the new black and white tile at this year’s Coverings Trade Show. 

Throughout the show I noticed bold pops of color — everything from sinks to range hoods in brights like cobalt blue, yellow, and even cranberry red. Sometimes it’s fun for certain projects to really highlight an appliance or sink with bold color. I think these make for some great options when choosing tile too! I’m imagining pairing some perfectly matching accent tile with one of these colorful sinks in a bathroom, or picking out a gorgeous backsplash to compliment these appliances.
In addition to exploring the show floor, some of my favorite color insight for the kitchen and bath came from moderating the “Color Talks” panel at the show, on the KBIS Next Stage. We had an amazing group of panelists including Nate Berkus, (Interior Designer and Artistic Advisor to LG Studio), Laurel Bern (Interior Designer and design blogger), Daniel Germani (Designer, and brand ambassador for Cosentino), Andrea Magno (Benjamin Moore Color & Design Expert), and Amy Wax (Color Consultant and founder of Color 911 app and blog). 
With a diverse set of backgrounds, the group was able to cover a lot of ground surrounding color. We discussed great colors for small spaces, incorporating bold colors, and our favorite neutrals. A video of the discussion will be available shortly, so keep an eye on Coverings’ social media channels to see the highlights!

Overall, I had a great time exploring the floor at this year’s KBIS. It gets my design inspiration going, and it makes me even more excited to see what’s new in tile and stone at this year’s Coverings. Hope to see you all there! 

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A Closer Look at CID Award Winner for Sustainable Design: The Heijnen-Kavelaars Garden Residence by Intexture Architects

Rame Hruska is the Principal designer at Intexture Architects, a residential and commercial design firm focused on creating environments for modern life. Last year, Rami and Intexture won the Coverings Installation & Design Award for Sustainable Residential Design with the Heijen-Kavelaaars Garden Residence in Houston, TX.
Rami recently connected with us to share how tile played a key role in the design of this home. For those interested in entering a project in the 2017 CID Awards, you can do so until January 23rd.
Heijnen-Kavelaars Garden Residence is designed to unite elements of landscape and architecture in everyday living. Set on a corner lot, the home wraps around a central pool and garden, opening up views to the garden throughout the house and connecting to terraces on the second floor. The garden and pool act as an oasis in the urban environment, a place of reflection and refuge from the occupant’s busy lives. The colors of water, plants and sky give life to the home and create a personal emotional connection in yellow-green, and blue accent colors throughout. The challenge in doing this was to keep the palette, cohesive and serene – giving individual areas character while maintaining a holistic design. 

Beginning in the garden, shades of green porcelain tile form the pool deck and backdrop for outdoor living. The faux wood grain pattern brings a pop art quality and sense of humor for the decking, creating a focal point linking interior and exterior space. Glass tile selected for the powder bath is aptly named cloud, turned vertically it echo’s the lines of the mirror and window in the room. The two guest baths feature handmade American tile from Clayhaus, pairing the same colors of wheatgrass, brine, splash and milk – in different textures. The Master bath features a wall of 1”x1” blended mosaic glass combined with walls of 3”x6” glass tile which enhance the effect of a sunny light filled space. 

The challenge with the tile design and installation for this home centered around the planning and precession required for everything to line up but appear effortlessly simple as part of the modern design. The tile and grout patterns were drawn to scale in Revit / BIM software along with accurate models of all the vanities and plumbing components. Accent bands needed to line up perfectly with the top edge of the vanity countertop. In the Master, wall mounted double faucets each needed to align perfectly with the intersections in the 3”x6” glass tile. Actuator plates for wall-mounted toilets were integrated to align with accent bands in the bathrooms. Other elements such as tile niches, even window and mirror placements were designed to avoid cut tiles and planned in advance, and coordinated in the field through the design-build process. The use of tile contributed greatly to the design of the home – creating a modern home that feels like home.

Sustainability was a key factor in the design of the home. Undergoing LEED certification, sustainable features include thermally broken Low E insulated windows, a high efficiency AC system, high performance insulation, low flow plumbing fixtures, energy star appliances, and drought tolerant landscaping. The home also features a solar array which provides over 30% of the energy for the home. As a two-story house it emphasizes horizontality keeping the home to a livable human scale. This configuration also maximizes the use of natural light through the space particularly from the northern façade, an advantage in the Houston climate. Long-term durability, ease of maintenance, and appropriate use of materials is a key factor in sustainability, leading to the selection of the tile materials. The tile also helped achieve the low VOC and indoor air quality goals.
Coverings has helped us connect with industry professionals and give us additional perspective. Our recommendation to those attending the show this year is to save time to walk the show floor and attend some conference sessions – they are not to be missed! 
Rame Hruska is a member of AIA and an LEED Accredited Professional. Intexture Architects is based in Houston, TX. To learn more:

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An Interview with CID Award Winner and Interior Designer Ivonne Ronderos

Ivonne Ronderos is no stranger to great design. As the founder and principal of DKOR Interiors, Inc., she leads a full-service residential interior design firm dedicated to developing client driven design that is functional with a timeless aesthetic. This philosophy helped create last year’s CID Award Winner for Residential Tile Design: Contemporary Waterfront Elegance in in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
As an expert in her industry, we sat down with Ivonne to learn some of her tricks of the trade, and her experience as a CID Award Winner. You can still submit a project for the Coverings 2017 CID Awards, which you can learn more about here.
What’s the biggest misconception about the design industry?
Interior Design is a service, not an art form. I see so many designers choose or design based on their own vision and what they would like. They often forget that this space is a home for their client, a place where people should feel comfortable and where they’ll build memories. 
What are some tips that you would give to newcomers who have been to a Coverings show?
There are lots of options out there, and as interior designers it’s our responsibility to inform our clients about every option and alternative. I recommend getting to know all of them so that you are able to help your clients find exactly what they need. Coverings is a great one-stop shop for this. If you have the opportunity to go, we highly recommend you do it. 
It’s also important to keep yourself updated about the latest design trends and products. There are new products every year. Discover all of them so you can find the new covering solutions for your design products.
What inspired your submission for the CID Awards last year?
Our service, fiscal transparency and client driven design is what we are most proud of. Whenever given the opportunity, we try to share this with others. We want to help to lead other designers to align their values with the way they do business to eliminate the shady reputation that our industry can have.
How has being a Coverings’16 CID Award Winner helped your business?
Our Coverings Installation & Design Award gave us more exposure in our industry and the trip to Chicago was a really great experience. I have more respect for the work and investment there is in the industry and feel more educated on why tile and stone are the best choices for the home. 

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2016 CID Awards Spotlight: Fairfield Inn & Suites by LHK Design

At Coverings 2016, we honored fifteen outstanding projects that demonstrated spectacular craftsmanship and creativity in the use of tile and stone. The winner for Sustainable Commercial Design was Fairfield Inn & Suites in Waterbury, VT. Designed by LHK Design, this new hotel maintained the brand’s signature features while incorporating rustic charm that defines this beautiful New England town. 

The design concept reflected many nature-inspired materials that were indigenous to Vermont, and LHK Design ensured that it met the area’s sustainable standards as well. This includes incorporation of products that optimize energy performance for floors and walls using thermo conductivity, and green cleaning so there’s little exposure to hazardous cleaning chemicals.
We connected with Lori Kramer, IIDA, LEED AP, and the founder of LHK Design, to discuss the project and her experience at Coverings 2016.

Tell us the story that inspired your submission for the 2016 Coverings CID Awards.
The new Fairfield Inn & Suites in Waterbury, VT, features a variety of types of tile and natural stone to drive our design concept, which reflected many nature-inspired materials indigenous to Vermont.  With the help of Cancos Tile & Stone, we created a warm and inviting rustic lodge with our own inspired custom layout of their Albero 6 wood look plank and parquet porcelain tile (in color: Fresh).  We used the plank tiles in different directions as a way to frame and designate spaces within the open plan of the lobby, breakfast area, corridors and elevator lobby on the first floor. The rustic detailing and deep texture of the Albero 6 tiles in both plank and parquet shapes were a perfect solution for the lobby to create a snow lodge feel and also withstand the snow and salt tracked in during the ski season in Vermont.  Throughout the hotel’s public areas, we featured Alpine Ledgestone cultured stone supplied by Boral Stone Products on various walls to create a natural, yet stark contrast to the wood-inspired tile flooring.
Bernadette White at Cancos Stone & Tile suggested I submit the Fairfield Inn & Suites Waterbury VT project for the 2016 Coverings Installation and Design Awards.
The best part of being an interior designer is to see my ideas and vision become a tangible reality.  I envision every detail of my design intent and how each piece fits together to create a distinct sense of place.  After all of these years, it is still incredibly exciting during each new project to watch the design I envisioned slowly come together during construction and become a reality upon completion.  I love walking through the space with my client when the project is finished to capture all of these details. They’ve been such an integral part of the entire design process, and it’s incredibly rewarding for both of us.

How was your experience as a CID Award Winner at Coverings 2016?
I was honored and thrilled to win a Coverings CID award, especially for sustainability as it pertains to the Fairfield Inn & Suites Waterbury VT project.  I am a LEED Accredited Professional, and I seek to incorporate sustainability into every single project to create design solutions that enhance the quality of life.  Sustainability, as wellness for the planet, goes hand in hand with wellness for the individual.  
This was my first time attending the Coverings show, and I discovered so many products that I’ve since specified on projects.
You can still submit a project for the 2017 Coverings CID Awards. To learn more:

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Coverings Installation & Design Awards: A Spotlight on The Farley Residence

Every year at Coverings we honor the best in design and installation of tile and stone at the Coverings Installation and Design Awards. We receive submissions from all over the world showcasing unique and stunning projects across residential and commercial.
This past year, the recipient of the Grand Prize for Stone was Rita Carson Guest and Magd Riad of Carson Guest Inc. for their work on The Farley Residence in Duluth, GA.  Gorgeous stone was installed throughout the home, creating an upscale yet inviting space. 
Rita Carson Guest is the President and Director of Design at Carson Guest Inc., an award winning design firm based in Washington, D.C. Her experience includes being the state of Georgia’s first registered interior designer, being the first interior designer appointed to serve on the Georgia State Board of Architects and Interior Designers, and receiving awards and recognition for her incredible work from organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).
Magd Riad is the President of Marmi Natural Stone, which is one of the largest integrated sources for natural stone variety. He has been with the company since the start of 2009, holds an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and has worked for companies such as GE, the Coca-Cola Company, and Newell-Rubbermaid. 
We asked both Rita and Magd to tell us more about their project and experience at Coverings 2016:
What was the inspiration behind the project?
Our clients and the beautiful stone options inspired the work. The home was very traditional inside and out. Our client wanted to update the home and rework the kitchen and our job was to take their wishes and show them the possibilities with good design, beautiful materials and a new layout. 
By moving the family room to the center of the home overlooking the pool and opening it to the kitchen we were able to create a comfortable and inviting living space that is also great for entertaining.

The design worked around the beautiful stone selections from Marmi Natural Stone including Princess White quartzite slab, smoke onyx slab, Calacatta Manhattan slab and tile, Imperial Gray Limestone tile, and Negro Marquina marble tile.
Tile products used include Calacatta Mosaics, Bianco Venatino random strip polished marble tile, Sonoma Tilemaker Stellar Glossy Charcoal Crackle tile in multiple sizes for splash material, and Ossigeno Matte long tile from Specialty Tile Products.
Stone and tile were used in 6 bathrooms for floors, walls and vanity tops, for the Entry Foyer floor, the countertops and farm sink in the kitchen as well as full backsplash.  A beautiful new fireplace replaces an old fireplace, using book matched Calacatta Manhattan slabs in the library. All of the stone and other finishes, furnishings and artwork are new.

How does the material make you feel as you move from room to room and is it a feeling you wanted in the space?
The materials used flow nicely from space to space. The new dark wood floor highlights the beautiful white Calacatta Manhattan stone featured in the foyer, powder room and library.  The beautiful white princess quartzite slabs used for the kitchen countertops and island glow as the sun hit the surfaces.  The material works beautifully against the dark wood flooring and transitions nicely from the white Calacatta Manhattan stone in adjacent spaces.  The island white princess slabs have gray patterned veining, which the countertops surrounding are all white making the contrast more interesting.   Next to the kitchen countertops we used a glossy charcoal crackle tile in three sizes for the backsplash to contrast with the white tops.

What is something you want anyone who visits this space to take away from his or her experience?
We hope visitors find the home comfortable and inspiring.  The richness of the new materials along with interesting artwork purchased to work with the new look creates texture and design at every turn.
Do you have an award-winning project we should know about?
The Coverings 2017 CID Awards are open for your submissions! Follow the link for more info on how to submit:

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A Conversation with Bradford Denny: Coverings 2016 Rock Star

For the past two years, Coverings has recognized the best up-and-coming young professionals in the industry through the Coverings Rock Stars program. The program will continue at Coverings 2017 in Orlando, and you can nominate a Rock Star here.
In 2016, we honored ten emerging leaders in Chicago during the Coverings CID & Opening Night Celebration. One of these award recipients was Bradford Denny, a Contractor and Installer from Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co.
Bradford learned the tile trade from his grandfather where he had the unique opportunity of learning installation methods that stand the test of time. His passion for information and knowledge of the trade has enabled him to stay on the forefront of the advancements in new methods and products. In his career, Bradford strives to utilize the tools he has been given to provide his clients with the best service, all while building up his company and the individual families that make this work possible. 
We connected with Bradford to learn about his work in the industry and what it means to be a Coverings Rock Star:
How did you get started in this industry and what solidified your love/passion for it?
Like some others, tile contracting wasn’t exactly my first choice as a career. I fell into it because our family had such deep roots in it. Over time I found the joys of work created by hand, an appreciation for the legacy my grandfather started, and the satisfaction of providing a service that pleases a client while providing a place for families of our employees to be enriched.
What is something you are most proud of in your work?
I am very proud of the collective effort it takes to make a vision a reality. It takes a team mentality to achieve success and inspiring everyone involved in a project to do that can be a difficult task. I feel good when that happens.
What is it about this industry that excites you?
Tomorrow is exciting. We can get wrapped up in today and yesterday, but taking what we know to be certain from those two allows us to move forward in a positive direction. I see our industry changing and helping be a part of that change is very exciting.
What are some of your favorite trends in the tile and stone industry?
I love seeing the large format trend that allows us to cover incredibly large surfaces. Having our coverings be such a large component of the overall project as well as a focal point is awesome. 
What does it mean to you to have been honored as a Rock Star?
Being honored as a Rock Star was very humbling and exciting. Humbling because I feel my success in the industry is a storyline of shared credit to the passionate people that have helped influence me. Exciting because it indicates that I still have much to look forward to ahead of me!

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Tile Magazine Features CID Award Winner Fairfield Inn & Suites

At Coverings 2016, we highlighted the best in tile and stone at the Coverings Installation Design (CID) Awards. Last year’s winner for Sustainable Commercial Design was the new Fairfield Inn and Suites in Waterbury, VT by LHK Design.
“The new Fairfield Inn and Suites maintains the brand’s signature features with a rustic charm that defines this beautiful New England town,” said Lori Kramer, CEO of LHK Design in New York City. The design sought to create the appeal of the outdoors, while accommodating the modern needs of guests who come to enjoy all that Vermont has to offer.
LHK design was effective in utilizing tile and stone to create this outdoor meets indoor concept throughout the hotel – including wood-look parquet tile, solid stone counters, and a porcelain tile pool.
Tile Magazine recently highlighted this incredible project, which you can see here. Have a project worth sharing? The CID Awards for Coverings 2017 are now accepting entries. Enter here.

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Stone and Tile Trends from Designer Rita Carson Guest

“I strongly believe that good design improves people’s lives. Living in a beautiful, comfortable and functional space adds value to lives every day. Studies show that bringing in natural light improves health and wellbeing.“
This was the philosophy that earned Rita Carson Guest a Coverings16 CID Award.
Italian Stone
Her design firm, Carson Guest, specializes in law offices and luxury residential designs. Known for their attention to detail, the firm gravitates toward beautiful stone products, something that Carson enjoys taking a sneak peek at while attending Coverings. “I often start with the Italian stone vendors since they have some of most beautiful displays and stone.”
She’s drawn to stone because the material lasts forever. The long-life also means it’s important to choose materials that won’t date. “If you need to go with the latest trend, I would suggest doing so with pillows or accessories that easy to change out once the trend passes and you are tired of the look. I like materials that are timeless and serve as a great background for good art and other materials.”
Porcelain Tile
Guest is also a big fan of porcelain tile. She’s noticed the trend moving toward large scale tiles. “The biggest new trend I’ve seen over the last few years is the introduction of the new large scale porcelain tile products. Many are really beautiful.”
The latest trend comes with a bit of a warning. Guest has found that, as beautiful as the large scale porcelain tiles are, installers sometimes struggle to put them in. “The largest challenge is finding installers who know how to work with those products. It is important to choose vendors who provide training on how to install their products and support to installers.”
A big advantage to attending Coverings is the ability to speak with vendors, face-to-face. While you’re checking out the product, find out what kind of support and education they offer the installers.
Here are Guest’s top 3 ways to make the best use of your time at Coverings:

Organize your tour of the show. There is a lot of ground to cover so organize your tour of the show to be sure you hit the products you need to see first. For instance, I often start with the Italian stone vendors since they have some of most beautiful displays and stone. The show is organized by countries which is terrific since different types of stone are quarried in different countries.
Seek out brand new products. If you are working on a job where you need large scale porcelain tile, seek out that area. I found a lot of beautiful porcelain products that I had never seen for the first time at Coverings.
Attend a CEU. Find time to attend continuing education programs. They are always interesting and valuable.

Ready to rub elbows with CID winners, meet new vendors, discover the newest materials and trends, and educate your team to take your business to the next level? Register for free for Coverings17.

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How Knoxtile’s Tex-Mex Cafe Makeover Won a CID Award

“Tile isn’t cold. It’s cool.”
That’s just one misconception about tile from Coverings 2016 CID Award winner, Donna McClendon. She’s the President of Dallas based Knoxtile, a firm dedicated to turning concepts into reality.

Knoxtile focuses on function to create a look that is inviting, yet practical. “Tile should be made to be touched, either because it is unique and beautiful or because it looks so clean and soft. If it doesn’t make you want to touch it, then you should use some other material.”
Clean and soft: yes. Slippery: no.

McClendon says there’s more to slip resistant ratings than you can gather at first glance. “A floor should feel like smooth velvet under your feet, a spa or shower floor should give you a comfortable grip that feels clean but lets you walk across easily or stoop to grab a bar of soap you’ve just dropped.”
She encourages specifiers to go above the standard .42 DCOF (a low standard which almost any satin wall tile will meet) and find tiles that are truly slip resistant when working on floors (especially wet surfaces, like McClendon often designs).
She wishes the specifier at her local Y had this info before installing the shower. “I have to grip my toes and take very careful steps trying to maneuver across a smooth 2×2 in the showers,” she says.
Meticulous installs using varying materials
Knoxtile’s mission is to understand and provide educated consultation, working with quality materials backed by testing and produced by reliable, stand-behind-the-product manufacturers.
That’s one reason this tile company took home the Coverings 2016 Installation & Design Award for their work with Miguel’s Tex Mex Cafe. The installation involved meticulous work on many different surfaces in completely different materials.

Miguel’s direction, given by Rex Kirby Design, was for each of 10 spaces to be uniquely different and eclectic. The concept was a contemporary play on traditional Mexican colors and style but joined together with a fun atmosphere.

Knoxville dedicated lots of resources to make the ideas become reality. The process took a minimum of 10 meetings with the owner and designer and plenty of hours of in-house design – working with renders and pattern layouts. Surfaces included everything from tabletops to floors to broken mosaic walls, all intended to provide templates for ordering and layout for installation. Knoxville successfully completed the design using every manufacturer they work with and multiple items from many.
“We did it using every manufacturer we work with and multiple items from many of them,” McClendon said. “All the work paid off because the owner agreed to contract artisan CTC installer Edward Flores Tile–hence the installation award for meticulous work on so many different surfaces in totally different materials.”

Another Reason To Apply for a CID Award
McClendon recommends entering your company for a CID Award as a team-building event. “As a company, we all gathered photos, took a bus on a 350-mile round trip to experience the venue, and saw first-hand the materials and quality of work in the project. Everyone realized the amount of time, effort and talent involved, and really felt a part of it,” she said. “The satisfaction and pride we gained just in preparing our submission was valuable and lasting. We all grew together.”
Here are McClendon’s top 3 tips for making the most of Coverings:

Walk the show with eyes open for an overall view, it’s a great way to define yourself and your company just by seeing how everyone works.
Visit with the Art Village and check out the meeting rooms if you’re looking for artists or smaller manufacturers that you might grow with.
Be sure to have your people attend an installation session and pick 2 important seminars, one technical, and one on design or color, to round out and develop interests for conversation and further research.

Coverings Installation and Design Awards Submissions are due January 6, 2017. Submit yours today.
If you’re not yet registered for Coverings 2017, register now so you don’t miss the opportunity to explore new materials, educate your team, and discover experienced vendors to help your business grow.

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4 predictions for 2017 design trends from Alena Capra Designs

Alena Capra of Alena Capra Designs has been called the “queen of space planning” because her specialty is reconfiguring rooms to be more functional. She especially loves reconfiguring kitchens and bathrooms.
She’s also one of the Coverings17 Attendee Advisory Council Ambassadors.
Here are 4 of Alena’s predictions for next year’s hottest trends in shapes, colors, and materials.

Hexagons. “In the last two years, we have seen the emergence of the hexagon shape in tile. It followed suit in lighting, textiles, wallpaper, and furnishings.”
New Grey. “Grey has been strong for a long time–and still is–but the movement towards more taupe shades of grey has been big in everything from tile, to paint, to furnishings.”
Bold accent colors. “Watch for emerald greens and cobalt blues.”
Organic influence. Rustic, reclaimed and even organic woods have also been strong themes.

Afraid of going bold? Here’s Alena’s cautionary tale…
Too many homeowners choose a “safe route” when selecting shapes, colors, and materials for a renovation because they’re “good for resale.”
But she’s also seen many of those safe kitchens torn out by new home buyers and replaced with the bold look they prefer.
So Alena always gives the same renovation counsel: “Choose things that make you happy. After all, you’ll be living there, and you need to enjoy it.”

As a Coverings Ambassador, Alena has access to new trends, and it’s helped her design firm grow.
“Being involved with Coverings has helped my business tremendously. It has allowed me to be at the forefront of many of the upcoming tile trends, and has exposed me to so many different types of tile, as well as new manufacturers.”
She has advice for designers who are new to Coverings who would like to follow her lead in using the Show to grow their business this year. Here are her top 3 tips:

Sign up for one of the guided tours. It helps simplify the process, giving a general overview of the way the show is laid out and providing insight into some of the key trends you will see throughout the show.
Download the Coverings App. It’s such a great and useful tool at the show. The app will be available for download in Spring of 2017.
Attend Coverings’ segment-focused Appreciation Days to enhance learning and networking opportunities. Appreciation Days feature tailored guided tours of the show floor, lunch, focused education sessions and more.

If you’re looking for more design inspiration, check out Alena’s design portfolio.

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Congratulations to the 2016 Coverings Rock Stars!

Last night Coverings introduced its second class of “Rock Stars” – representing emerging leaders in the tile and stone industry. The ten 2016 honorees were selected from more than 54 candidates and announced during the show’s Opening Night Celebration, which kicked off a series of events that provide the group with exclusive access to mentorship and networking.
“Coverings is honored to welcome the second class of influential young industry leaders into its Rock Stars program,” said Karin Fendrich, Coverings show director. “The future and continued success of the tile and stone industry is dependent on the many talents represented by this diverse group of professionals, and we look forward to the innovative ideas and leadership they will continue to share in the years ahead.”
We offer our congratulations to this impressive group!

Sean Cilona, Florida Tile, Manufacturer
Andrea Contri, Confindustria Ceramica, Trade Association
Cameron DeMille, Easy Stone Care, Fabricator
Bradford Denny, Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co, Contractor/Installer
Bill Griese, Tile Council of North America, Trade Association
Julian Hernandez, JR Design and Contractor, Contractor/Installer
Jason Holman, The Source Stone, Fabricator
Joseph Procida, Procida Tile, Distributor
Paul Reiss, Artaic, Architecture & Design
Kate Sterling, AKDO, Manufacturer

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Spotlight on the Coverings Installation & Design Awards Winners

Fifteen outstanding projects were recognized in the fifth annual Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards last night.
The projects, which represent a range of creative and technical talents demonstrate some of the foremost work in the industry – spanning residential and commercial projects across a range of price points.
Take a look at the winning projects below:
The Stone Grand Prize was awarded to Carson Guest Inc. and Marmi Natural Stone for their work on The Farley Residence in Duluth, GA. The project encompassed a complete renovation to update a traditional home, while creating a new layout opening the home to overlook its pool.

The Tile Grand Prize was awarded to Doty Tile, Snyder Tile, and Aileen Bar for the Lincoln Park Tiled Stairway project in San Francisco, CA. After decades of neglect, this project tackled repairing and enhancing the existing stairway, benches and pillars to create a beautiful community destination.
Commercial Stone Design: Creative Edge Master Shop was honored for their St. Wenceslaus Church project in Dickinson, ND
Commercial Stone Installation: KEPCO+ was awarded this prize for their work on the Indianapolis Temple in Carmel, IN.

Residential Stone Design: S & R Development, Inc. from Dallas, TX took home this award for this St. Johns Master bath and living room with fireplace and columns.

Residential Stone Installation: Ribaudo Tile and Marble was awarded for installation of their Green Lake Residential Bathroom, in West Bloomfield, MI.

International Stone Design: ifdesign was honored for the WIGGLY HOUSE project in Ponte Lambro, Italy.

Commercial Tile Design: Clockwork was awarded for The Mixx Overland Park project in Overland Park, KS.

Commercial Tile Installation: Edward Flores Tile won for their Miguel’s project installation in Abilene, TX.
Residential Tile Design: DKOR Interiors, Inc. won this honor for their project, Contemporary Waterfront Elegance, based in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Residential Tile Installation: Ryan Hughes Design, Inc. won for the Ultimate Outdoor Living Space, in Tampa, FL.
International Tile Design: Congratulations to Equipo Creativo for their design for the Blue Wave Restaurant in Barcelona, Spain.

Sustainable Commercial Design: LHK design was honored for their design in the Fairfield Inn & Suites, in Waterbury VT.
Sustainable Residential Design: Intexture was awarded for their Heijnen-Kavelaars Garden Residence project in Houston, TX.

NEW! Scouting Shots: The winning project in this new category was the Red Rock Country Club Remodel by SKG Designs, who won a free professional photography shoot for the project.

Winning projects were selected by an independent panel of judges, comprised of notable industry writers, leading designers, installation experts, and representatives from Ceramics of Italy, the Tile Council of North America, Tile of Spain and National Tile Contractors Association. 

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Celebrating the 2016 Best Booth Awards

With exhibitors from more than 40 countries exhibiting at McCormick Place in Chicago, our judges had their work cut out for them in selecting the honorees for this year’s Best Booth Awards.
Exhibitors truly brought their best this year, with booths not only showing off the most cutting-edge products, but also displaying them in truly innovative ways. The winning booth designs truly created remarkable experiences for visitors – going beyond the architectural by activating the senses.
Here’s a look at the booths that made the biggest impression this year:
Sicis, Booth #2044, followed up last year’s showstopper by showcasing truly inspirational design, with elaborate and detailed mosaics that highlighted the potential of this format.

Torrecid, Booth #7718, demonstrated a unique capacity for storytelling, showcasing the product within a lifestyle-driven layout.

Antolini Luigi, Booth #4412, created an innovative interpretation utilizing beautiful marble mannequins within a retail concept.

Inalco, Booth #826, created a residential experience with an expansive, open user flow that welcomed attendees into their space.

Ornamenta, Booth #1645, showcased product through a unique jewel case concept, in which the booth opened and closed to create a fun, urban experience.

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Getting Social @ #Coverings2016

Coverings is a great place to network – both online and off. Take a look at our social media-driven activities during this week’s show.
Social Media Lounge: Take a break from the show floor to re-charge yourself (and your devices!) at the Social Media Lounge, located in Booth 4031. Be sure to also interact with colleagues in-person or online using our event hashtag,#Coverings2016. And look out for the many exciting sessions about social media platforms, 3D content marketing, and more.
Coverings Insiders – A Twitter Tour: On Monday, April 18 at 3 p.m. CT, you can join Coverings Industry Ambassador Alena Capra for a curated, behind-thescenes tour of the show. This interactive tour begins at the Social Media Lounge (Booth 4031) and will also include Tileometry’s Arpi Nalbandian and Christine Whittemore from Simple Marketing Now, LLC, who will share insights via Twitter throughout the event. Alena will offer an insider’s look at Coverings’ pavilions: Ceramics of Italy, Tile of Spain and Tile Council of North America. Be sure to follow the conversation on #Coverings2016.
Tweet Up: Join @Coverings for a Tweet Up on Monday April 18, from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. CT in Booth 4031. Network with industry professionals both onsite and online as we hold a live Twitter chat about #Coverings2016, sharing tips on making the most of the week, and how to share it all on social media. Enjoy happy hour refreshments and amp up your Twitter presence! 
#KBTribeChat: Every Wednesday, kitchen and bath industry professionals gather online to share insights on a variety of topics for #KBtribechat, from social media strategy to recent design trends. During #Coverings2016, the #KBTribeChat will be hosted live at 1 p.m. CT on Wednesday, April 20 at Crossville Tile (Booth 7306). Come join the conversation with #KBtribechat and #Coverings2016 to share your insights on tile among other knowledgeable professionals.
Win a trip to Coverings 2017 in Orlando: Already dreaming of Coverings 2017 in sunny Orlando, Florida? Keep an eye out for the Coverings frames on the show floor for your chance to win a trip to next year’s event! Snap a photo of yourself (and your team) with the frame and post it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the ##Coverings2017 hashtag and tag @CoveringsShow to be entered to win a trip to next year’s show. The photo with the most likes wins!
Use #Coverings2016: Keep all the great conversations about Coverings going with our hashtag #Coverings2016. Follow along as we lead live coverage for keynote sessions, awards, and more. Please be sure to follow Coverings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+.
There’s still time to register:
See you in Chicago!

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Coverings is just around the corner, and the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) will be joining us in Chicago. Check out what they’ve got in store for McCormick Place next week:
The North American Pavilion will be the central hub for TCNA, and will feature everything from tools for installers to the clay and presses used to make tiles. The Art Tile Village will also showcase the artisan side of the industry, including restoration tiles, pop art and more.  At the Installation Materials District (Booth 8149), you can learn about innovative new product applications, like curbless shower systems, heated floor systems, linear drains and more.
As a foremost advocate for developing standards for tile and stone products, TCNA will also host a live demo stage, where you can see product launches, participate in hands-on demos, learn installation techniques, and win great prizes! At the Info & Hospitality Hub (Booth 7325), you can also pick up a complimentary digital copy of the 2016 TCNA Handbook, which is filled with over 185 methods for installing tile and stone. Contractors can also sign up for guided tours at the Contractors Lounge (Booth 8539), with tours held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the North American pavilion you can also enjoy an authentic Mexican lunch at 11:30 a.m. Monday – Wednesday at the Info & Hospitality Hub (Booth 7325). Extended happy hours will begin at the same location starting at 3:30 p.m., also Monday – Wednesday. Stop by, grab a drink, and network with fellow professionals! 
There’s still time: register now for Coverings 2016 for free!

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Tile of Spain Coverings 2016 activities announced

Tile of Spain is excited to be part of Coverings 2016, held April 18 to 21, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Visitors to the Spain Pavilion will witness some of the most advanced ceramic tile technology and breathtaking design choices the world has to offer from nearly 70 Spanish ceramic and stone manufacturers.

The Tile of Spain booth (# 619), in the center of the pavilion, holds a variety of literature, including directories to the must-see Spanish tile exhibitors and the latest issues of Ceraspaña, Tile of Spain’s quarterly magazine.  
Presentations and videos will run throughout the show, including award-winning architectural and design projects and an overview of Tile of Spain manufacturers’ achievements featuring beautiful design and products with unsurpassed quality, durability and versatility.

Presentations from tile expert, Ryan Fasan, to be presented in the Spanish Pavilion (Booth 619) include:  
From Skin to System: Rethinking Ceramic’s Place in Design  
Monday, April 18: 12pm and 1pm
Thursday, April 21: 12pm  
Sometimes it can be difficult to rethink our approach to time honored processes, especially when we have been doing things the same way for centuries. Ceramics have been a mainstay cladding material in design since humankind has been making buildings. Ceramic tile, especially in today’s modern formats and value added solutions is so much more than just a skin and in order to fully harness its systemic potential, its time for a rethink.  
Join us in the Tile of Spain Pavilion as we explore the evolution of innovation in tile over the past 20 years and explore new approaches to sales, specification and design to harness the full potential of ceramics by shifting the timeline of material selection dramatically. From slim to thick pavers, large formats to traditional subways, stone looks to wood planks – creating a detailed materials map for a project can be the biggest asset for your next project. Even as human skin has surface benefits but is a part of a larger system that makes the entire structure function better, so too can tile function systemically in building design with the right forethought.  
User Experience Focus: Trends in Ceramics 2016  
Tuesday, April 19: 12:15pm
Wednesday, April 20: 3pm  

In the tech world, operating systems are the long-term assets that live through the arcs of micro-trends in the fast-paced device innovation race. Tile has a similar relationship to building design as a whole given its durability and technical characteristics in relation to overall building systems. Join Tile of Spain as we explore the evolution of macro-trends in ceramics through the lens of evolving UX design principles.  
Viewing tile trends on this macro scale sheds some interesting light on where the industry is today and what the focus is for long-term timeless usefulness in relation to all aspects of building design and planning. Taking keywords from UX design like “materials”, “scalability” & “streamlining” we will explore the emerging trends in Spanish ceramics, and ceramics in general, for 2016 and beyond.  
Once again, ASCER, the Professional Association of Ceramic Tile Manufacturers from Spain, and ICEX Spain Trade and Investment organize the 2016 Spain Pavilion.
For more Tile of Spain updates, be sure to follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest. Register for Coverings for free today to visit Tile of Spain in booth #619.

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Coverings Session Spotlight: The Future of Hospitality Design with Andrew Fay

You don’t have to be a fortune teller to envision the future of hospitality design – you need to be a storyteller. When I co-founded The Gettys Group in 1988, design was influenced by basic criteria, such as category – budget or luxury – and type – business or leisure. The world is a different place, and the skills a designer now needs are more complex than they were nearly 30 years ago. Today’s top hospitality designers are storytellers. They bring together myriad influences – derived from global trends to local inspiration to brand personality – with the goal of creating highly unique and authentic experiences for every guest.   
At The Gettys Group, we operate at the intersection of strategy, design and implementation, an approach that informs and inspires our specialized teams of experts in interior design, consulting, branding and procurement. This agility, along with our global reach throughout the Americas, Asia and Middle East, affords us the unique opportunity to not only identify trends as they’re happening but to predict them.
As the world becomes a much smaller place through technology, hospitality design needs to be responsive to guests’ evolving needs. The following themes are top of mind for me and my team as we work on diverse hospitality projects across the world.
Global Trends Impact Hospitality Design
Because we operate across multiple continents, we have a front seat to a world of different cultures. We are inspired by the developments in design, such as emerging styles, colors and materials like tile and stone, that we discover through our own travels.
Think Like a “Fast Company”
To stay relevant, you need to think like a “fast company.” (Translation: more for less and faster.) The Gettys Group’s organizational strategy has produced a fluid interchange of expertise, which enables us to drive innovative and authentic solutions to every project.
Create Memorable Experiences
How people live, work and travel today inspires and informs our work. By paying attention to what guests are looking for, such as designing spaces that are reflective of their specific surroundings and creating thoughtful moments, The Gettys Group is continuously serving both the brands we collaborate with and the guests they serve.
The Future of Hospitality Design takes place Tuesday, April 19 from noon – 1pm. Keynote sessions have a minor charge to secure your place and include either a hot breakfast or plated lunch. Register for Coverings for free here and add the Future of Hospitality Design to your registration.

Andrew Fay is the President/COO and Founding Partner of The Gettys Group, where he has spearheaded nearly three decades of growth for this groundbreaking and award-winning global hospitality interior design, consulting, branding and procurement firm. By leveraging Andrew’s diverse background in design, hotel operations, real estate finance and branding, The Gettys Group has established a worldwide reputation for having an innovative and creative approach to the hotel design and development process. An honors graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Andrew is a noted industry speaker who is frequently engaged to share his expertise and insight about the hospitality industry, business strategy and global trends. The Australian native is also active with a number of civic groups in his adopted hometown of Chicago.

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Celebrate Coverings 2016 with Ceramics of Italy

In less than two weeks, Ceramics of Italy will be joining us for Coverings 2016 in Chicago. Take a look at what they’ve got cooking up this year:
In the Italian Pavilion, a dynamic new stand designed by e+i studio, named Strada Dinamica, will take center stage (in booth 1531). Evoking the configuration and movement of a lively Italian streetscape, this space features benches, standing communal tables and two large kiosks housing a café, coffee bar, and information desk. Visitors can stop by to pick up a map of the Italian Pavilion, grab the latest copy of CER magazine, and sip espresso while networking with other attendees.

Within the pavilion, 122 brands will showcase the latest designs and technical innovations – from ceramic-porcelain hybrids and enormous porcelain slabs to erasable chalkboard tiles and antibacterial grouts. Architects, designers and other tile specifiers will be treated to guided tours of the Italian Pavilion by signing up for the Coverings VIP Tour hosted by Ceramics of Italy at (They will also be entered into a drawing to win a trip to Bologna, Italy!)
You can also stop by The Ceramics of Italy International Press Conference which takes place on Tuesday, April 19 from 4:00-5:00pm in room S401BC.

Outside of the Italian Pavilion, Ceramics of Italy is a proud sponsor of the Installation Design Showcase. This year, award-winning interior designer Alena Capra, along with NTCA Five Star contractors from Artcraft Tile and Marble, will work to create an eye-catching cross-section of a luxury boutique with Ceramics of Italy tiles. You can check out the final reveal on Wednesday April 20 from 3:30 – 5:30pm in booth 6245.
Hope to see you there! Register now for Coverings 2016 for free!

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Timeless Elegance With Tile

Designing elegant spaces with décor that will stand the test of time can be a real design challenge. Living rooms, family rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor spaces can all benefit from the theme of timeless décor, and will save you from the hassle of redesigning rooms every few years. Tile of Spain offers tiles that create a timeless elegance.
Ceramic floor and wall tiles are the ideal materials for accomplishing elegant décor that will never go out of style. The kitchen below shows the Trend series from Realonda, featuring simple patterns that keep the space elegant, yet exciting. There are a variety of tiles that can be used to accomplish the moderation and balance found in these timeless designs, and ceramic tile is durable and long lasting, so it will not be subject to wear and tear.

Realonda, Trend Series
Tile floors and walls give one the ability to decorate spaces in a variety of different ways. To achieve a look of classic elegance, one can use large tiles that provide continuity through straight lines, large formats, and neutral colors such as greys shown below in the Scott Collection by Peronda.

Peronda, Scott Collection
For a more decorative design, one can combine different sizes of metallic or glossy finishes. Small, mosaic pieces seen in the Ambiente series by Onix are timeless and can be paired with contemporary furnishings to lead to sophisticated spaces that will last through the years.

Onix, Ambiente series
For more design ideas using Tile of Spain, be sure to follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest.
To see more great designs from Tile of Spain and their exhibitors, register for Coverings and visit them at booth 619.

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Session Spotlight: How to Maximize your Online Marketing Presence

Two Industry Leaders Come Together to Present Marketing Seminar at Coverings
Lisbeth Calandrino, associate publisher of Fabulous Floors Magazine and business strategist for Follow Your Customer, and Irene Williams, owner/principal of Msg2Mkt, LLC, a digital marketing and PR firm focused on the interior products industry, are joining forces to lead “How to Maximize Your Online Marketing Presence” at Coverings 2016 in Chicago. This hour-long session is designed to offer attendees practical ideas to more effectively prioritize and converge their marketing strategies for measurable success in attracting and inspiring action from customers.
Both Lisbeth and Irene have much experience in the flooring and tile industries, coming from unique, professional vantage points. For this session, the two will offer actionable insights on how to use digital and social media marketing in tandem with email campaigns and other, more ‘traditional’ selling strategies to meaningfully connect with target customer bases. 
Irene, who represents national brands such as Crossville, Inc. and founded @TileTuesday, an Instagram account with more than 14K followers, will give the “how, when, and why” on using select social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Houzz, as well as company websites and blogs to make businesses more findable by consumers. These strategies will dovetail into Lisbeth’s focus on “How to Make Your Email Marketing Pay Off,” in addition to a top-level look at how solid selling tactics can close deals when all efforts work together.
Lisbeth shares how she and Irene first connected. “In 2009, I interviewed Irene Williams about a custom mobile app she developed based on QR code technology—an app that was licensed by Crossville. It was extremely innovative at the time and definitely added another dimension to Crossville’s brand awareness. Irene brought with her a breath of fresh air to our industry.  Though she’s been in the biz a long while, she launched her own venture 7 years ago, focusing on digital, social, and mobile marketing. When it came time to submit a topic for Coverings, I called Irene and asked if she would be interested in co-hosting it with me because I knew we could provide a good balance of ideas and insights between us. Our topic was accepted for the show, and now we’re off and running!”
“I have been consulting in the flooring industry for over 20 years,” continues Lisbeth, “and despite what I know, I’m aware my experience in the flooring industry but where do you go to learn new things? You look for people with different skills and ideas. You’ve heard ‘one plus one makes two,’ actually one plus one makes three. It gives you an entirely different perspective.”
“I’m excited to present alongside the venerable Lisbeth—so respected in this industry and beyond. As focused as I am on the latest tools for selling, I also respect that even the most grassroots, traditional tactics have their place and can bear great results. It takes a blend to reach customers today, cut through the clutter of messaging, and build relationships that result in sales.”
Make plans to attend “How to Maximize Your Online Marketing Presence” on April 18th from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in room S103ABC. Register for Coverings today to attend!

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