Once again, the Marmomacc fair in Verona, Italy, has confirmed its role as the international hub of the natural stone industry. The 40th edition of the International Natural Stone and Technology Exhibition, which took place from September 29 to October 2, 2005, posted impressive figures. Initial data indicates more than 62,000 visitors overall (about 3% up compared with 2004), of which 38% was international attendance from 112 countries (an increase of 6% over last year). This year's edition attracted 1,500 exhibitors (including 600 from 51 different countries) over a net area of nearly 700,000 square feet.

According to VeronaFiere, which organizes Marmomacc, the show's success reflects the importance of Italy's stone industry, which boasts more than 11,000 companies and 60,000 employees, with turnover of $3.6 to $4.2 billion.

Exhibitors included suppliers of natural stone from Italy and around the world, and there was a broad range of new materials and textures on display. Of note, new varieties of exotic materials from around the world were featured. Additionally, new surface finishes and cut-to-size stonework were also showcased at Marmomacc 2005, offering attendees a look at stone products that go beyond the traditional choices in the international marketplace.

In addition to stone suppliers from Italy, exhibitors at Marmomacc came from around the world, including international pavilions representing Brazil, Turkey, China, France and Spain, among others.

Of course, suppliers of stoneworking machinery and tools were also a major presence at Marmomacc 2005. In fact, many major equipment manufacturers use the event as a platform to introduce their newest, most advanced generation of stoneworking machinery.

International delegations

The show floor had an international flavor to it, as the event welcomed 20 international delegations and 1,000 architects, and VeronaFiere feels this turnout is evidence that the local sector is beginning to glimpse the first signs of recovery. While the U.S. market has remained a strong export target over the past few years, local operators have reported an overall slow-down in business during that time. Now, these same operators generally expressed moderate optimism and reasonable expectations for the near future - despite intense international competition.

The best opportunities for development remain in the North American market, but they also include the Arabian Gulf, where several countries (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) have scheduled investments for $200 billion in the construction field.

“We are delighted about achieving this objective,” said Luigi Castelletti, President of VeronaFiere. “All parameters attained growth. The increase in international visitors is a clear demonstration that the exhibition is by now increasingly international in scope and is viewed as the landmark event in the field. There are signs of recovery for a district that finds in Verona and the Veneto in general one of its main centers - and still among the most important in the world.”

“Marmomacc was hugely successful in terms of operators taking part,” said VeronaFiere Director General Giovanni Mantovani. “In particular, the international scene provided important signals from the U.S., Asia, Eastern Europe and even from Germany. Moreover, the exhibition definitively consolidated its role as the link between the worlds of architecture, design and [stone producing] companies."

Awards and seminars

The 40th edition of Marmomacc also hosted the 9th edition of the “International Stone Architecture Awards,” a biennial event organized by VeronaFiere that has become an important event in the sector. The jury included a distinguished collection of architects and educators, including Alfonso Acocella, Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Werner Oechslin, Vincenzo Pavan and Antonio Pizza.

Award-winning projects were as follows:

• Rodolfo Machado & Jorge Silvetti Architects, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA

• Alberto Campo Baeza, Offices of Provincial Health Delegation, Almería, Andalucía, Spain

• Pedro Pacheco and Marie Clément, Cemetery, Church of Our Lady of Light and Museum of Light

• Antón García Abril / Ensamble Studio, Centre for Musical Studies, Finca Vista Alegre, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

• Claudio Silvestrin, Giorgio Armani Stores, Paris, Milan, Düsseldorf, Florence, Moscow, Naples, Boston, Chicago, Edge Mesa, Tokyo, Atlanta, Athens, Vienna, Zurich, Jeddah, Beijing, Dubai, Busan, Barcelona, Rome and London; Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Shanghai

The “ad memoriam” award dedicated to past authors renowned for major contributions in stone architecture was made to Franco Albini (1905-1977) for the Treasury Museum, San Lorenzo, Genoa, 1952-1956, a project that became very famous in its own time. This work, one of the most successful by Albini, embraces precious and highly skilled expressions of an ancient building culture that has long since been forgotten.

An extensive seminar program was also part of the Marmomacc program, with topics including stone architecture, quarrying, production and testing as well as global market trends. Additionally, an intensive multi-day educational session for architects was hosted by VeronaFiere, with attendees receiving credits from the American Institute of Architects. This included a visit to Marmomacc as well to a marble quarry, multiple stone producers and a broad range of architectural sites (see “VeronaFiere-AIA Continuing Education Seminar is once again a success”).

The next edition of Marmomacc will take place in Verona from October 5 to 8, 2006.