We bring you all the latest trends from Coverings 2016, the tile & stone exhibition in Chicago.

Coverings, one of the largest global tile and stone exhibitions in North America, made its triumphant return to Chicago for the first time in seven years, as representatives from Ceramics of Italy, Tile of Spain, Tile Council of North America, Ceramic Tile Distributor Association and National Tile Contractor Association gathered in April for the official 2016 ribbon cutting ceremony.

The show featured the latest products from more than 1100 global exhibitors across 41 156m² of show floor space and offered more than 70 educational sessions.

Attendees from all segments of the tile and stone industry find great inspiration not only from the incredible array of innovative products and wide range of informative sessions, but also from the historically strong architectural roots of Chicago.

Sean McCadden, of Remodel My Business, kicked off the 2016 conference programming with the opening day keynote, “Turning Industry Challenges into Opportunities and Opportunities Into Profits.” The enthusiastic presentation explored the various challenges faced by builders & remodelers in today’s market – notably keeping young talent engaged and ensuring the longevity of your business. Sean offered key tips and considerations, ranging from defining paths for employee advancement to offering mentorship, and establishing high levels of integrity and trust to ensure both employee and client retention.

Throughout the session, Sean emphasised the importance of forward thinking in practices relating to business, as well as installation and design – regardless of profession. New to the keynote sessions at Coverings 2016 was the presence of InkFactory, whose representatives produce visual representations, through text and illustrations, of each session’s core messages and key takeaways.

The 2016 show also brings a reinvigorated attitude to the tile and stone industry, as the Italian, Spanish, and North American pavilions all incorporated refreshed design and branding elements. Innovative and thoughtful booth design further revealed itself across the show floor, as the 2016 Best Booth Awards recognised five exhibitors whose booths featured experiential designs that activated attendees senses in ways transcending architecture and design.

Trending at Coverings 2016
Once again the latest introductions of a range of products revealed some of the leading trends taking shape in the industry – trends which are expected to grow in the market.

Black and White – With a Twist

One of tile’s most classic looks is the juxtaposition of black and white, and today’s manufacturers are updating the look by incorporating other trends into product’s design. There were several collections with black and white tiles appropriate for floors or walls in the increasingly popular hexagon shape. Attendees were also wowed by a collection of coloured body porcelain tiles that, in one of its colorways, exudes the elegance of Cipollino marble with black veining that has been enlarged and exaggerated against the white surface to create a bold, contemporary look.

Chevron Shapes
Though hexagons are making a big splash, the hottest shape we are seeing at the moment is the chevron. Dramatic chevron patterns appear as meshed components, printed and embossed details, and tile-works created with tiles sporting clipped corners. Unlike herringbone, chevron patterns are all about the zigzag. In chevron patterns, tiles run point to point and the ends are cut at an angle to create a continuous zigzag design. In herringbone patterns, tiles finish perpendicular to each other, which results in a broken zigzag.

The wood look is here to stay
From white oak to black walnut, pine to poplar, it is no question that consumers crave the look of wood for their floors. In addition to their appearance, though, today’s wood-look tiles impress with their tactile qualities—distress marks, knots, and scrapes that are dead ringers for the real thing.

Although the wood look is not a new trend, this generation of wood continues to progress into authentic replications of actual wood to the point they are indistinguishable from real wood, with the benefits of easy maintenance and durability found in tiles. The vintage, distressed look was popular at Coverings as was a textured wood-style tile, available in five remarkable wood tones.

The sizes are continuing to grow into true plank sizes seen in real wood floors. This has been a residential and commercial focus, with architects and designers deinstitutionalising their client’s environment with the natural products.

Industrial areas
The gritty, raw aesthetic inspired by factories and warehouses – think concrete, steel, and rusted metal – is continuing to have a heyday with lots of horsepower. The cement look continues to grow in demand, but the resurgence of the worn concrete look is a cool, clean and crisper impression of actual poured concrete that is set to surprise the industry. The cross between industrial and refined design has come a long way. Cement tiles are moving into residential applications. The tile may look just like cement, but it has gone one step beyond to be the perfect complement for the industrial aesthetic within a home. Manufacturers will continue to focus on the true natural use of colours with a range of large formats and textures.

Companies shined the spotlight on Acidic, which brings together metals and traditional lines. Inspired by steel sheets, the tile mixes its slightly iridescent surface with tones of silver, blue and black to create a complex look. There was also a collection of a series of full-body porcelain slabs inspired by the neutral colors of nature. The realistic, stone-like slabs are available with different finishes and in an array of sizes in both small and large format.

Rustic Stone Look
With continued technological advances in digital printing processes, more realistic stone looks are also on the rise. The ability to create a product with graphics that do not repeat has flourished and become a feature factories have incorporated into their visuals, emulating real stone graphics and colours.

Several collections were on display that realistically reproduced, for example, travertine marble.
The glossy luster surface with marble-like veining provides a beautiful finish. Another company evoked a natural stone look with its new Oceanaire Porcelain Tile Collection. The collection captures the appearance of sea and sand swept natural stone with multidirectional striations in five gradient color options.

Brick by Brick
Building on the industrial aesthetic, bricks continue to be big – and this year, there was a bevy of brick-inspired tiles that update the urban loft look. The look mirrors the feel and aura of vintage brick, bringing nature into the fold as consumers move to the urban look and feel in their homes. Porcelain bricks has a multitude of diverse applications such as driveways, home entrances, pool decks, main floors etc. Porcelain bricks are here to stay. Collections displayed a mixture of industrial and urban design mixed with contemporary style embraces old and new, the rough and the smooth. Other collections can be installed just like any other ceramic tile allowing for the flexibility to create a brick application to any room.  

Blues and Aquas
This year also saw several serene tile looks with blues in nearly every saturation, as well as teal colour cues drawn from the ocean and marine life. Blue can be both neutral and bold, and fits into all types of design aesthetics. Options range from a more traditional white and blue (inspired by historical styles) to beautiful bright aquas, reminiscent of the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, one collection showcased a combination of reflective glass tile and matte stone to create a gorgeous look that is reminiscent of the ocean’s tones.

It’s always exciting to see how these trends are applied, and as time moves one, it will be interesting to monitor how these trends will evolve.

Acknowledgement and thanks go to www.coverings.com and “A Product Trend Report from the National Tiles Association – TREND.