By Megan Salzano After a two-year hiatus, Coverings 2021, the largest international tile and stone exhibition and conference in North America, will host its in-person trade show event from July 7-9 in Orlando, Florida, at the North Hall of the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC).
The pandemic caused the show to cancel its 2020 event just a month before its scheduled start date. April 2019 was the last time Coverings held a face-to-face show, and organizers say the industry is ready to meet in person again. “Now that we’re coming out of the pandemic and things are opening up again, we’re pretty excited to get back to work,” Jennifer Hoff, president of Taffy Event Strategies, the event planning company for Coverings, said. FCNews. “For the show, we’re bringing back some of the popular floor surfaces that get people excited, but the great thing about Coverings is the exhibition hall – all exhibitors from all over the world – and the opportunity to see the latest trends in real life. We think there will be a lot of tension and energy during the show; people are really looking to get out into the world again.”
Coverings 2021 is one of the first of the larger trade shows to host an in-person event in the US, and while attendances aren’t expected to reach normal levels, organizers say they’re optimistic. “We’re one of the first pioneers to host a big show coming out of the pandemic, so we’re not expecting the same attendance numbers from the show in 2019, but they’re definitely signing up across all sectors of participation,” said Hoff. “We have 20 countries represented on the show floor and more than 340 companies listed in approximately 275,000 gross square feet of space.”
Tried and true
Features returning to Coverings for 2021 include international pavilions, tile and stone exhibits from around the world, live installation demonstrations, Coverings Installation and Design (CID) Awards, Rock Stars, and free educational opportunities.
Free classes include continuing education units (CEUs) and feature sessions, demonstrations, roundtables, live interviews with industry thought leaders and industry forums. Coverings organizers said the show’s top-rated education aims to provide attendees with the knowledge, solutions and business-building resources needed to excel in the tile and stone industry in 2021 and beyond.
Featured educational sessions are highlighted in three tracks: Installation & Fabrication, Workforce & Profits and Materials & Trends. The Installation & Fabrication sessions at Coverings 2021 are designed to provide attendees with a wealth of information on industry best practices and advanced techniques for installation and fabrication, the show’s organizers said. The Workforce & Profits sessions are designed to help participants discover new and successful business practices and tactics to better grow and manage their business. The Materials & Trends sessions will include lectures on tile trends, environmental responsibility and more.
Also returning for 2021 is the installation demonstration, which offers attendees the opportunity to observe live, interactive demonstrations of advanced tile installation techniques. The experiential programming is designed to engage participants from all professional trade segments and provide a holistic view of tile industry standards and best practices.
To give show attendees the opportunity to maximize their experiences every day for their first in-person Coverings event in nearly 28 months, the show will run on a time-optimized schedule for 2021. The exhibit hall will be open on Wednesday, July 7, and Thursday, July 8. July from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. The exhibition floor is also open on Friday 9 July from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm
Also new to Coverings 2021 are the Coverings Lounge, the exhibitions of the Society of American Mosaic Artists and the co-location with the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). “The Coverings Lounge will feature many educational sessions in addition to our traditional programming,” explains Hoff. “There is coffee in the morning and beer in the afternoon. We want to have a great place where people can meet and network.”
In addition, in the Coverings Lounge mosaic tile projects will be unveiled by Luna Mosaic Arts and the Tax Authorities. Visitors can expect Luna Mosaic Arts to create a 10 x 10 foot to 10 x 20 foot tile mosaic on-site during the show, with additional mosaic projects on display. The NTCA will present a live broadcast demonstration of how to design, build and install a mosaic tile project, highlighting the historical importance of tile laying as an artisan craft.
“We are excited to share the steps and advanced methods used by our NTCA craft team to design a custom mosaic creation specifically for Coverings 2021,” said Bart Bettiga, executive director of the NTCA. “Our members are contractors, distributors and manufacturers preparing for Coverings 2021 to access the most innovative tile and stone products, networking opportunities and new business skills and growth.”
Coverings is also partnering with the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) to showcase another dimension of ceramic tile and inspire attendees at the July event. The SAMA will feature two exhibits in the North Hall Lobby: ‘One Hundred Moments in Mosaics’ and ‘Mosaic Arts International’.
Finally, Coverings 2021 will be hosted for the first time alongside the NWFA 2021 Wood Flooring Expo. Coverings 2021 will be held in the OCCC’s North Hall, while the NWFA Expo will be held in the South Hall. Hoff said participants who register for both events will have access to both exhibition halls. “We look forward to working with [the NWFA] early July, see how it goes and build on that relationship that we’ve always had with them,” she said. “Because the world and the stock market landscape are changing, I wouldn’t say: [co- hosting again in the future] is not relevant.”
Ceramics of Italy returns to the show to showcase a range of brand new ceramic and porcelain tile collections and installation products in downtown’s North Hall. The pavilion will have a redesigned central stand that will be a hub for hospitality and information from Italy.
This year, visitors will also find a new version of the Ceramics of Italy booth “Strada Dinamica”. Designed by e+i Studio, the stand is modeled after an Italian street scene and fitted with tiled furniture. The booth will feature an info kiosk and a meeting point to enjoy authentic Italian coffee and gelato with representatives of the Italian ceramics industry.
Tile of Spain, the international brand representing more than 120 ceramic tile manufacturers from Spain, will once again host the Spanish Pavilion at the show, which will explore rich collections as well as a full range of ceramic formats and applications from more than 40 Spanish manufacturers.
The Tile of Spain booth offers educational seminars and video presentations, including award-winning architecture and design projects and an overview of the performance of Tile of Spain manufacturers.