Report from Europe: CarraraMarmotec 2006 sees growth
September 1, 2006
Walking through the fairgrounds at CarraraMarmotec, which took place from May 31 to June 3 in Carrara, Italy, one of the more noticeable changes was the addition of new indoor exhibition space. And to christen the new space, some of the region's most noteworthy stone producers brought out their very best stone displays. But more importantly, the event seemed to draw stronger attendance than it had in recent years - perhaps due to a national holiday in Italy, which allowed more people to visit the fairgrounds.
In all, the event included nearly 130,000 square feet of exhibit space, outdoor exhibitions and a series of conferences and meetings. Exhibits included stone materials from around the world, and they were found in a variety of formats - blocks, tiles, slabs, three-dimensional pieces, mosaics, etc. The event also included displays of stoneworking machinery and accessories, as well as products for stone maintenance and restoration. According to organizers of the fair, CarraraMarmotec was visited by over 20,000 people from 99 countries, and attendance by foreigners from Eastern Europe, the U.S., Germany, Austria, Belgium, Iran and Australia all increased in 2006. French and Spanish visitors, however, decreased this year. Organizers reported that among the 20,380 professional visitors, 3,986 came from abroad, an increase of 11% over 2005. The event also had 440 exhibitors, a 6% increase over last year, and overall exhibit space increased 23%.
â€œThis is a satisfactory result, especially because it seems to confirm, at least partly, those positive signs that have come up over the last few months and that have given confidence back to the companies, especially the Italian companies,â€ said Giancarlo Tonini, President of CarraraFiere, the event's organizer. â€œThis is just the aspect that I think can be associated with the increase in the attendance of the Italian operators, who are experiencing such a trend reversal. The first ones to feel such winds of change have been the companies that are based in the historical marble quarrying and processing regions that took part in the fair with great booths, where they showcased the best products ever, especially in the new hall that hosted and enhanced their proactive efforts.â€
A total of 54% of the Italian operators came from Central Italy, 32% from Northern Italy and 14% from the South and the islands. Of course, visitors also had the opportunity to visit the many stoneworking companies in the region - which not only work Carrara's famed white marble, but a broad range of granite, marble, travertine and other materials from around the world. In fact, many of the region's leading stoneworking plants have become specialized in exotic materials such as onyx, and they are working with technology for fragile materials so they can stand apart from increased international competition.
Of the foreign visitors in attendance, 50% came from within the European Union (EU), 12% from non-EU Europe, 10% from Africa, 8% from North America and 5% from Central and South America.
CarraraMarmotec reported that the rise in attendance was also helped by a worldwide marketing effort of advertising, promotion at international trade fairs and direct mail/e-mail. Some categories have been specifically targeted by e-mail, including 10,000 architects and 15,000 building contractors and operators.
â€œ[Overall, it was] a positive fair which also brought to the fore some interesting factors that will help us plan the next fair,â€ said Paris Mazzanti, managing director of CarraraFiere. â€œ[There was] widespread presence of blocks and raw materials in the outdoor areas, and powerful promotion of finished products in the inside halls. The meetings saw attendance of people who were extremely interested in the initiatives, such as Mario Botta's lecture about marble and stone in a new Renaissance. This [showcases] our fair as a great cultural tool - a sort of bridge between the manufacturing world and the world of people who design and use natural stone. We will work to create new opportunities and stimuli, especially for the architects, who seemed to be extremely interested in the fair and in the displayed materials.â€
The next edition of Carrara-Marmotec will take place from May 30 to June 2, 2007.
Sidebar: Renowned architect Mario Botta speaks in CarraraWorld-renowned Swiss architect Mario Botta was among the speakers at the latest edition of CarraraMarmotec in Carrara, Italy. His presentation, â€œMarble and stone in an new Renaissance,â€ was extremely well received by an audience of architects, designers and businessmen.
â€œThese big marble blocks arouse in every architect powerful feelings, the attraction to use it for a presence that will continue over time,â€ said Botta, who has made extensive use of stone in his work around the world. â€œStone is an essential material to give a new lease of life to a city. Carrara itself could become an illustrious example of the Renaissance of a local cultural fabric. One should only fit some new buildings in the old city plan; to make the most of the modern, skillful way of using stone. But culturally, a new Renaissance relying on stone can only refer back to the man of Renaissance, to the brains that knew how to master every step of the process, from the design to the development.â€
Botta stressed that there needs to be a collaboration between all parties in the creative process of building stone architecture. â€œWe must therefore find again that unity of knowledge, which has now been replaced by specialization - the separation between the disciplines, which is also a sort of vertical separation,â€ he said. â€œOtherwise, we risk building a poorer, more miserable architecture. The risk is clear if one fails to understand the need that the architect and the artist work in mutual consultation again, as both are called to find common working methods in every building feature, whether it is a space or a material. When the architect offers quality, he proposes an interpretation that will certainly enrich the artist. And vice versa, of course.â€
After the conference, Botta participated in a passionate debate with the many professionals on hand at the event.