Stone World

Collaborating for a successful installation

May 11, 2012
Lately, there seems to be a phrase I am hearing more and more: "A design is only as good as its installation." And when you really think about these words, you realize how true they are.

installation design showcase

With hands-on help from Cox Tile and Marble, Florida-based kitchen designer Joan DesCombes created a personal pamper patio, which included a functioning tiled fountain, and a bench and bar table made from wood-look porcelain tile.

Recently, I had the privilege of being on a panel of judges for the first annual Coverings Installation & Design Awards. In the past, Coverings sponsored the Prism Awards, honoring superior design in stone; and the Spectrum Awards, recognizing excellence in design with tile. But after really considering what goes into stone and tile design, the show wanted to emphasize the importance of a successful marriage between architect/designer and installer. As a result, the new design competition was born.

While evaluating all of the entries, it became clear that while many of the designs and materials were beautiful, some were hurt by the installation. A poor installation can definitely hinder a design. Communication between the architect/designer is crucial in order to complete a successful application. Many of the design professionals that I speak with make a point to be on site during the installation to make sure their vision is being executed correctly, and to also work out any challenges that might present themselves during the installation.

Taking the relationship between a design professional and stone/tile installer a step further, Coverings also held an Installation Design Showcase on its show floor during the four-day event. "The special combined live-action demonstration and exhibit underscores how critical skilled installation is to realizing any design project," according to National Trade Productions (NTP), the show's management. The Showcase was launched three years ago with the help of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). To participate, installers were required to have NTCA Five Star Recognition, the association's highest ranking, and be certified by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation.

Having a certified installer is definitely an important point. With standards continually developing and changing, you want a capable stone/tile setting professional who is up on the latest industry regulations and techniques. This will only ensure the fruition of a successful stone or tile design.