International Tiles

Thursday, 29 April 2010

After a whirlwind of the world's best in Milan this month, I'm currently experiencing another side of design. As an invited member of the press at Coverings, a tradeshow for the tile and stone industry, I have been whisked through the halls of the Orlando Convention Center and shown ceramic tile, porcelain tile, marble tile -- for applications as flooring and walls. While the originality of design from tile to tile is hard to distinguish from booth to booth, the technicality of it all is interesting. The most intriguing aspect of this specialized area of the home and design sector has turned out to be somewhat of a surprise. The business of tile is largely bureaucratic and the show floor is shadowed by the looming banners of regional alliances.

Tiles of Spain, Ceramic Tiles of Italy and The Tile Council of North America. Designers and companies -- large and small alike -- pledge their allegiances to the appropriate organization, often supported by government entities. These organizations then battle it out on the exhibition floor.

Curiously, each country's press conferences sounded almost exactly the same, lamenting the woes of the tile industry. The industry was one of the first, and hardest hit by the global recession, as it relies on the success of new homes and construction. Billions have been lost over the past two years, and the sector has felt any signs of recovery.

It seems that a global organization might do the tile and stone industry some good, as it is not in a place where in-fighting and competition will benefit anyone.

Jean Lin
USA Editor, Interiors