In this issue of Stone World, we present our annual "Focus on Indian Stone." And while stone from India is not a new commodity in the U.S., it is certainly still a growing one. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce show that imports of Indian stone by consumers have grown significantly over the past five years.

Granite imports, which remain India's most popular stone product for the U.S. market, increased nearly 60% over the past five years. The value of Indian granite exported to the U.S. reached a total of over $41 million in 2000, as compared to $26.6 million in 1995. The total tonnage of granite imports also increased, with a total of 126,984 tons imported in 2000, as compared to 51,234 tons imported in 1995.

But even while granite remains India's strongest stone export to the U.S. - and continues to grow in popularity - a more dramatic increase can be seen in the area of Indian slate. In 2000, the U.S. market imported nearly $22 million worth of Indian slate, a staggering 350% increase over the 1995 total of $4.8 million.

These statistics are confirmed by this issue's selection of projects for the Indian Stone Report. Included are several projects in Indian granite, including an upscale location for a popular hotel chain (page 68), a private residence (page 72) and a major Colorado office complex (page 78). Additionally, this issue's feature on a massive software development center in Chennai, India, (page 58) shows that Indian granite is also a preferred choice within the country's own borders.

The growing popularity of Indian slate is exemplified by this issue's cover story, a private residence in Dallas, TX (page 46). For this project, the homeowners sought a material with a casual feel, and the designer selected two varieties of Indian slate for the kitchen and sunroom. The textured tone of the slate is contrasted by polished granite furnishings in both spaces.

The remaining two projects in this issue's Indian Stone Report demonstrate the popularity of other Indian stone materials, particularly sandstone. These include a corporate office interior in Pennsylvania (page 50) and a Marin County, CA, residence that was converted into a school for children with severe learning disabilities (page 74).

So, as evidenced by this collection of architectural projects - and by the increased import figures - it appears that natural stone from India will continue to make inroads in the North American marketplace.