There was no shortage of notable finds at the international tile and stone exposition when it held its annual four-day event this month in Las Vegas. Newly discovered, masterfully harnessed technologies have had the greatest impact on the latest innovations, yielding an abundance of uncommon textures, shapes and sizes.
Porcelain tiles are dead ringers for other hard surface materials such as marble, travertine and even hand-hewn wood planks. Florida Tile, for instance, was showing Berkshire Maple, a style that takes the wood look-alike trend to a whole new level. Introduced at Coverings, it not only imitates the look, it practically imitates the feel, with dimension, saw marks and details typical of hand-scraped woods.
The research and development team at Crossville created a porcelain tile that mimics the look of bluestone and aptly named it Bluestone. The resemblance to its namesake is uncanny, with fossil-like impressions and a subtle pearlescence like that created by embedded shells.
Using the latest digital print technology, Italy’s Marazzi has found a way to recreate the luxurious appearance of travertine. Its introduction, Archaeology, was flooring the flooring experts at Coverings. It is a porcelain tile but with surface details such as fissures and striations that typify travertine. Lamosa, the Mexican-based manufacturer, also showed a travertine-like tile, Scabos, but this was a rawer, more rustic and textured iteration simulating a look that’s indigenous to what’s quarried in Mexico.
Glass tile manufacturer, Interstyle, managed to develop a technological marvel. Its new Turf series was a 3D optical treat reminiscent of millefiori glass production, with filaments of colorful glass encased within a clear tile.
Texture was another top story at Coverings. Micro-patterns were big, and one of the most impressive was at Refin, which showcased Kaos, a porcelain tile completely peppered with a dimensional relief of tiny dots. Uniquely, the dots gave way to the illusion of a linear pattern, a visual effect aided by the monochromatic, tone-on-tone shadings of the confetti-like decoration.
Dimensional dots also were used, but more sparingly and with a dramatic contrast of colors, such as a high-gloss red atop black, by Viva and applied to Its new creation, Lava. Ceramiche Coem also displayed a micro-pattern, Pietra Millerighe, but one that was totally linear, featuring a very fine ribbing. On the other end of the texture spectrum, Peronda, a Tile of Spain brand, introduced Shamian, a distinctive mosaic composition of chunky, jutting, protruding tiles.
Offering more classical relief but with a modern spin, Tabarka Studio, which is based in Scottsdale, AZ, and produces glazed terra cotta tiles, wowed Coverings show goers with its Noblesse Oblige collection.
The hexagon seemed to be the “it” shape at Coverings. A new exhibitor, Portland Cement, explored several artistic concepts using the shape. Shingled Hex, in particular, was a standout style. Land and its sister company, Aparici, both Tile of Spain brand manufacturers, incorporated the shape into their exhibits in major presentations where size also mattered—offering a 24-x-24-inch format.
Thin is, of course, still very much in when it comes to the thickness of tiles, and this plus the large scale format offered by the aptly named new (only seven months old) Spanish company, The Size, is what captured everyone’s attention. It underscored the flexibility of its 12-x-4-foot, 3mm thick tiles by forming an arched wall-to-ceiling treatment in its booth. Scale and proportions also were the dominant theme at Italy’s Florim and its Casamood brand where an 80-x-80 format was part of the offering in the Lava Stone collection.
Though its exhibit space was small, one company, Estone, from Spain, did “tease” with a giant technology breakthrough that’s nearing availability. It soon will be marketing a stone flooring with computer systems embedded within that can be programmed to communicate messages and information through smart phones and other digital devices.
Next year at Coverings 2012 is set for April 17-20 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando.