Business progresses at Marmomacc in Verona
December 1, 2009
Although the stone industry remains embroiled in one of the most difficult recessions in history, there have been some positive signs in recent months. These indicators continued at the Marmomacc trade fair in Verona, Italy, which took place from September 30 to October 3, and once again confirmed its stature as the leading international stone fair.
Overall, Marmomacc welcomed more than 53,000 visitors and more than 1,500 exhibitors from 54 countries, according to show organizer VeronaFiere, and they exhibited over an area of more than 830,000 net square feet of space.
“The show went better than we expected,” said Klint Olsen of Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA. “We took orders and made over 100 new contacts. Most of our visitors were interested in our product and seemed serious about buying.”
“We are satisfied by the result achieved, which is particularly significant in the light of the negative moment for the sector,” said Giovanni Mantovani, Director General of VeronaFiere. “Moreover, we saw the confirmation that the effort by Marmomacc in recent years to bring marble and design closer - by establishing relationships between stone companies and leading architects and designers - was very [successful].”
“We are at the side of companies, accompanying them in the growth process, and we are helping them from a promotional point of view to overcome this complex [economy] to highlight quality Italian products all over the world,” said Ettore Riello, President of VeronaFiere. “Today as never before, effective synergy between the production system, government, trade associations and institutions is vital so that we can work abroad with the necessary strength to tackle the global challenge posed by competition.”
The 24,000 foreign visitors at Marmomacc represented 45% of overall attendance, marking a slight increase over the previous year, and they came from more than 100 different nations.
Visitors from within Italy declined to a total of 29,000, but this is in part because Marmomacc now runs Wednesday through Saturday, rather than Thursday through Sunday. In general, VeronaFiere regards the decision to change the days of the exhibition proved to be a great success, since it attracted highly professional and specialist operators (up by 10%) and eliminated attendance by the general public that otherwise crowded the last day of the exhibition.
Exhibitors at the event were an even mix of Italian companies (representing about half of the overall exhibitor total) and international firms representing 53 other countries, including, for the first time, Afghanistan, Algeria, Slovenia, Syria and Tunisia.
In addition to exhibitors of natural stone and quartz surfacing, the firms participating in Marmomacc offered large-scale stoneworking machinery and accessories as well as installation and maintenance products.
As usual, Marmomacc served as a platform for many stone suppliers to unveil materials to the international marketplace for the very first time. Visitors to the event saw new varieties of granite, marble, onyx and other materials. Of note, many exotic materials were showcased at Marmomacc - and they came from locations around the world. These included semi-precious stones as well as backlit onyx panels.
Quartz surfacing also had an increased presence at Marmomacc, including products with UV resistance as well as products with unique surface textures or recycled content.
Moreover, the stone producers on hand at Marmomacc were eager to showcase traditional, popular materials that were extracted from newly developed quarry sites. This was of particular importance with regard to materials that have become harder to source in recent years.
Stone could be found in a broad range of formats at Marmomacc, including slabs, tiles, mosaics, blocks and architectural works such as customized cladding and three-dimensional pieces.
In the area of stoneworking machinery, exhibiting companies also introduced new innovations at Marmomacc. These included upgrades to equipment such as CNC stoneworking centers and computerized bridge sawing machinery. Many of the upgrades on display were specifically targeted towards shops specialized in countertop production, including developments in sawing as well as edge finishing.
Technological developments at Marmomacc not only covered machinery, but also new treatments for stone, including products to strengthen fragile materials - allowing for the use of stone materials that might not otherwise be commercially viable.
(Editor’s Note: Please see “New introductions at Marmomacc and StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas” for descriptions of some of the specific stone materials, equipment and other innovations that were on display.)
Marmomacc served as a meeting point not only for stone and stone machinery buyers and suppliers from around the world, but also for stone trade associations. For example, the Natural Stone Council, with the support of Marmomacc, organized a meeting with stone associations from Europe and India to discuss its efforts to highlight and promote sustainable practices in the sector and to propose a global approach to sustainability.
Marmomacc Meets Design
Design continues to be an important focus at Marmomacc, helping stone trade professionals to gauge the impact of the latest technologies. The “Marmomacc Meets Design” (MMD) project again generated some of the more innovative booth designs. MMD 2009 paired leading international designers with 13 stone processors. The pairings focused on this year’s theme - “hybrid and flexible” - in developing everything from objects - such as Tobia Scarpa’s stone stove for Testi Fratelli - to entire booth designs. The theme of flexibility was meant to apply not only to stone itself, but also to a design approach that involves pushing experimentation through technology to explore and redefine the material’s limits.
One of the MMD booths - Vaselli Marmi, with designers Marco Fagioli and Emanuel Gargano - shared the Marmomacc “Best Communicator Award” with Iaconcig Pietra Piasentina. The award is presented to the booths with the best visual approaches to conveying the richness and potential of stone. Vaselli was selected by the jury for its “originality and lightness, with which the strength of stone as a material was approached in the booth’s perimeter, as well as for the formal coherence of the architectural solutions displayed within the booth.”
Iaconcig’s booth, designed by Giovanni Vragnaz and Studio Modland, was chosen because of the surface treatment of the stone featured on the exterior of its booth, which transformed it into an “architectural element.”
A number of companies received “special mentions” from the jury for their booth designs: Antolini, Budri, Covelano Marmi, Franchi Umberto Marmi, Henraux, Lithos Design and MGM Furnari. PibaMarmi and Il Casone were also acknowledged by the jury for the continuity of their design strategies and the desire to push forward with research and experimentation even with young designers.
The 13 pairings for the MMD project included: Alberto Campo Baeza with Pibamarmi; Aldo Cibic with Santamargherita; Craig Copeland and Turan Dada with Henraux; Michele De Lucchi with MGM Furnari; Marco Fagioli and Emanuel Gargano with Vaselli Marmi; James Irvine with Marsotto; Marta Laudani and Marco Romanelli with F.lli Mele; Francesco Lucchese with Scalvini Marmi; Marco Piva with Cava Romana; Luca Scacchetti with Grassi Pietre; Tobia Scarpa with Testi Fratelli; Francesco Steccanella with Il Casone; and Patricia Urquiola with Budri.
Craig Copeland and Turan Duda’s collaboration with Henraux marked the first time that American architects have participated in MMD. Their design emerged through the pursuit of different types of material hybridizations to achieve new and varied effects of “flexibility” in stone. The combination of American Oak with Henraux’s own Cervaiole marble from the Carrara region in Tuscany helped to reinforce “fundamental realities and allusions to the flexibility of stone, both structurally and figuratively.”
Assembling the stone within passive and/or active mechanical devices led to flexible stone forms within the booth, thus allowing the stone to be ever-changing and challenging conventional perceptions of stone as a fixed or inert material. Through their booth design, Duda and Copeland also conveyed flexibility in the use of stone. They created an interchangeable “kit of parts,” made of stone and other media, which could easily be reconfigured.
(Editor’s Note: To view an interview with Duda and Copeland on their work with Henraux for MMD 2009, please visit Marmomacc’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/marmomacc and click “Uploads.” Then scroll down to find the interview link.)
Marmomacc 2010 is scheduled to take place in Verona, Italy, from September 29 to October 2.
Sidebar: Marmomacc 2009 hosts 11th edition of AIA continuing education programAs part of its ongoing efforts to bridge the architecture and design community with architects and designers, Marmomacc hosted the 11th edition of VeronaFiere’s continuing education program for architects. The program now includes courses in Italy, the U.S. and online. A total of 32 architects - from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., India, South Africa, Australia, Singapore and Vietnam - spent four days studying the relevance of stone to modern design.
Participants toured the Essegimarmi Breccia Pernice quarry near Verona, spent a day in the Val di Chiampo district at companies such as Decormarmi, Lithos Design and PibaMarmi, and even made a rare visit to Palladio’s La Rotonda.
Marmomacc’s continuing education program is recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Australian Institute of Architects and the South African Institute of Architects.