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Chicago, the world ceramics show

From 18 to 21 April this year, the 27th edition of the most important American tile and stone exhibition will move to Chicago, the “city of architecture”, where it will showcase the excellence of more than 100 Italian tile producers


Spread out over a net floor space of 425,000 square feet in the McCormick Place Convention Center, Coverings is a must-see event for everyone interested in the latest new products showcased by 1,100 exhibitors of tile and stone from over 40 countries.

Confindustria Ceramica is organising the ever more imposing Italian Pavilion, a hub of activity and hospitality where the Ceramics of Italy mark graces banners, logos, kiosks and carpet as the hallmark of excellence of Italian ceramics.

A packed promotional programme ensures that the Italian presence will be highly visible at the show, although the real novelty of this edition is the new Ceramics of Italy booth (#1531) extending over an area of almost 300 square metres. Designed for the second time by New York-based designers e+i following the success of the first project in 2012, Strada Dinamica creates a transitional space that is both friendly and dynamic. It is fitted out with benches, high tables with stools and two kiosks where Italian exhibitors and their American customers can enjoy a bowl of authentic Italian pasta and pick up information and literature on the industry, including the English version of Cer Magazine International and the Ceramica Amica consumers’ guide. The booth itself serves as a model of innovative installation, including large-format tiles supplied by LEA Ceramiche for the floor and FLORIM Magnum Oversize tiles for the furnishings, as well as accessory products and services from Fila Surface Care Solutions and Mapei and a raised floor system supplied by NEWFLOOR SRL Raised Floors.

The packed programme of events will include the International Press Conference to be held at 4.00 p.m. on the second day of the exhibition (Tuesday 19 April). As usual the event will welcome accredited American and non-American journalists along with the winners of the “Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition 2016” for outstanding projects carried out using Italian ceramic tile in the residential, commercial and institutional categories.

The event will continue from 6.00 pm onwards during the Serata Italiana, which will also host the presentation of the North American Distributor Award 2016.

For the seventh year running, Ceramics of Italy is sponsoring the Installation Design Showcase, an annual event promoted by the show organisers in partnership with the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). In this ambitious project, which will be presented at 3.30 p.m. on Wednesday 20 April in Booth 6245, a team of tile setters from the NTCA will create a mock-up of a luxury boutique under the guidance of interior designer Alena Capra using products supplied by several Italian companies (tiles from Atlas Concorde, Ceramica Sant’Agostino and Tagina Ceramiche d’Arte and installation materials supplied by Mapei). On Monday 18 and Wednesday 20 April the A&D VIP Tour will give architects and designers a chance to admire the excellence of Italian tiles in the Ceramics of Italy Pavilion.



The traditional Ceramics of Italy International Press Conference was held yesterday at Coverings. In the presence of Confindustria Ceramica’s Chairman Vittorio Borelli, the Chairman of the Promotional Activities and Trade Fairs Commission Emilio Mussini, the Director General of ICE New York Maurizio Forte and the Association’s Director General Armando Cafiero, the press conference was an opportunity to talk to the international press about the Italian ceramic tile industry and the promotional initiatives conducted in the US market and to present the winners of the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition 2016.

“Ceramic tile consumption in the United States has grown by 25% in the space of just 3 years,” said Chairman Vittorio Borelli. “In particular, the 10% growth in 2015 alone reflects the excellent state of health of the construction industry. This has a direct impact on sales of ceramic tiles, a material that accounts for almost 15% of all floor coverings and remains crucially important in the hard surfaces segment.”

“Sales of Italian ceramic tiles rose by 50 million dollars in the US market last year,” continued Borelli, “making Italy not just the top foreign supplier country but also the country that achieved the best results in 2015. This outstanding performance is also reflected in the average selling price of Italian tiles, which gives a clear indication of their exceptional level of appreciation and value.”

“As representatives of the Italian ceramic industry,” concluded Borelli, “we reaffirm our support for the TTIP agreement between the United States and the European Union, an agreement that will progressively reduce customs duties and consequently improve conditions for Italian exports. Another important issue addressed in these negotiations is that of phytosanitary barriers, an area where Confindustria Ceramica has already offered an outstanding response through the Good Phytosanitary Practices (GPP) programme. This unique programme demonstrates the attention on the part of Italian companies to environmental protection in the United States.”

Next to speak was Emilio Mussini, Chairman of the Promotional Activities Committee of Confindustria Ceramica, who noted that no fewer than 122 Italian companies are present at this edition of Coverings. He went on to present Strada Dinamica, the new Ceramics of Italy institutional stand located at the centre of the Italian pavilion.

“After Cersaie in Bologna, Coverings is the trade show that attracts the strongest participation on the part of Italian companies anywhere in the world,” he said. “But the Ceramics of Italy promotional activities are in fact held worldwide, as for example in January at Maison & Objet in Paris and last month at Maison & Objet Asia in Singapore.” These important events serve to strengthen links with international designers and architects working in the construction industry. Another major initiative will be ICFF in New York in May, where 18 Italian ceramic companies will be taking part.”

Emilio Mussini outlined the various communication activities conducted in the North American market. These include the English edition of Cer Magazine, a suite of communication products consisting of a printed magazine, an app and a monthly e-magazine; the www.italiantiles.it and competition websites; the Projects and Products Galleries; and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“Turning our gaze from Chicago to Bologna,” concluded Mussini, “I’d like to talk for a moment about Cersaie, which this year will run from Monday 26 to Friday 30 September. The fact that almost all the exhibition space has been sold out five months before the show is due to begin demonstrates its leading role amongst international tile exhibitions. This is an important achievement for an event that not only showcases ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings but is giving increasing space to other floor covering materials, including wood, marble and natural stone.”


Maurizio Forte, recently appointed Director of the North American network of  the Italian Trade Commission ICE, began by congratulating the organisers of the show. He then pointed out that the presence of ICE demonstrates the importance attributed by the Italian government to the North American market, particularly for the Italian ceramic industry.

He noted the key role played by Italian exports in North America, a market where Italy is the second most important exporter country in Europe after Germany and has potential for further improvement. “This goal may be achieved through strong cooperation between ICE and the Italian ceramic industry,” he concluded.

Next to speak was Christine Abbate, who used slides to illustrate the major innovative trends set by Italian ceramic tiles and invited the journalists present to attend the press tours amongst the stands during the remaining days of the show.

Cristina Faedi introduced the award ceremony for the 23rd Design Competition Award organised jointly by Confindustria Ceramica and ICE.

This year, Confindustria Ceramica and ICE assigned the Design Awards to three American architects or interior designers whose creativity has helped promote the image of Italian ceramic tiles. The Commercial Category award went to the GENSLER firm of architects (New York, NY) for the Kaye Scholer Headquarters (New York, NY) project carried out using tiles from Atlas Concorde distributed by Nemo Tile. An honourable mention went to Rottet Studio (Houston, TX) for the Viking Star project (Bergen, Norway) completed using tiles from Caesar, Laminam, Lea, Mosaico+ and Rex distributed by various retailers.

The winner of the Institutional Category was the architecture practice UJA Federation Community Complex (Vaughan, Canada) for the ARK project (Toronto, Canada) which used tiles from Mirage distributed by Olympia Tile.

The Residential Category award went to the architecture practice Shinberg.Levinas (Washington, D.C.) for the Turnberry Residence project (Rosslyn-Arlington, VA) carried out using ceramic tiles from Lea distributed by Atlantic Link. Special mentions went to Geoffrey A. Blatt, Inc. (New York, NY) for the Bridgehampton Private Pool project (Bridgehampton, NY) using collections from Kronos distributed by Cancos Tile & Stone, and to Dubbeldam Architecture + Design (Toronto, Canada) for the Through House project (Toronto, Canada) carried out with tiles from Casalgrande Padana distributed by Stone Tile International.

The next event in the programme was the Serata Italiana, the Italian gala evening held on the 99th floor of Willis Tower, which served as the venue for the presentation of the North American Distributor Award 2016.

“The Distributor Award is presented each year to the distributor that has excelled the most in its relations with the Italian ceramic industry,” explained Confindustria Ceramica’s Chairman for Promotional Activities Emilio Mussini. “The company chosen this year was founded in 1988 and stands out for its high level of service in the commercial sector, focusing attention on the quality of Italian tiles.”

The association’s Chairman Vittorio Borelli noted that the award has been won over the years by companies of all sizes based throughout the USA. This year’s winner stands out for its relationship with leading architecture and design firms, collaborating in particular on projects in the hospitality, healthcare and educational sectors. “The winner of this 26th edition of the Award is CERAMIC TECHNICS LTD (Alpharetta, GA),” announced Borelli. “Our congratulations go to the owners, Gerry King and Matt Houser.”