Marmomacc 2008 took place in the historic stoneworking center of Verona, Italy, from October 2 to 5, and it drew exhibitors and attendees from around the world.

Marmomacc, the leading international trade fair for the stone industry, recently celebrated its 43rd edition in Verona, Italy, from October 2 to 5, 2008. And the final results indicate that the annual event was a success, reports VeronaFiere, the show’s organizer.

“This edition - despite the world economic situation - went far beyond our expectations, confirming the exhibition as a vital appointment for trade operators in the natural stone field - from machinery to instrumental products, from blocks to more complex processing, as well as for the construction sector and the contract field,” said Luigi Castelletti, President of VeronaFiere.

The event included 1,536 exhibitors from 54 countries and nearly 830,000 square feet of net exhibition area, with both indoor and outdoor spaces.

More than 63,000 visitors - a total of 44% international from 120 countries (more than 50% if only the first three “trade-only” days are considered) - attended Marmomacc 2008. The exhibition, which encompassed approximately 830,000 square feet, also included 1,536 exhibitors from 54 countries.

photo courtesy of Granitex - Stone could be found in a variety of formats at Marmomacc 2008, including blocks.

International delegations who attended the fair in collaboration with ICE (the Italian Trade Commission) and other partners hailed from Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Switzerland, Great Britain, France, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Australia, Canada, Turkey, India, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Oman, Peru, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan and Vietnam.

photo courtesy of Marmi Bruno Zanet- A broad range of exotic materials were on display, including translucent, backlit stones.

Those in attendance had the opportunity to view the latest stone products and technologies. Exhibitors displayed large slabs and blocks of granite, marble, limestone, travertine and onyx - quarried in countries around the world. In addition to the more traditional materials, many types of exotics were also on display. Moreover, large equipment for stone fabrication and quarrying were prominently showcased at the exhibition as well as stone maintenance and installation products.

photo courtesy of Tekmar- Slabs of white marble appeared to be of particular interest at this year’s edition of Marmomacc.

Marmomacc Meets Design

Through the years, Marmomacc has developed a number of initiatives to foster relationships between stone suppliers and the architecture and design community. This year, the “Marmomacc Meets Design” collaboration focused on “Skin, Texture” as its theme, coordinated by Evelina Bazzo (see “Marmomacc 2008 continues as a global leader in stone design and education”).

photo courtesy of Antolini Luigi & C.- As usual, Antolini Luigi & C. offered an innovative booth design. This year, the company promoted its semi-precious materials, adorned with Swarovski crystal designs by Fiona Swarovski, among other new innovations.

“This is a stimulating and unusual topic within the scope of design, since it is often merely associated with cladding of walls and paving or stone slabs used as furnishing tops,” said the organizers. “Yet, the theme was not investigated only in terms of creative potential. For example, stone by its very nature adds a salient feature: the unique color and veins found in quarry workpieces - the unique origin of the material - can nevertheless be incorporated in ‘repeatable’ products.”

Pairing stone suppliers with acclaimed designers, this year’s “Marmomacc Meets Design” initiative focused on “Skin, Texture” as its theme. Among the exhibits, Simone Micheli collaborated with Italian porphyry supplier Odorizzi Porfidi.

Outstanding Exhibition Spaces

Another program that was held during Marmomacc 2008 was the “Best Communicator Award.” This program was yet another collaboration between stone suppliers and designers with the goal of “stimulating awareness of the value of their stands in relation to brand image and overall exhibition impact,” according to the organizers. Among the companies honored for outstanding booth design this year included Umberto Franchi.

Among the stone/design collaboration at Marmomacc is the “Best Communicator Award.” This program rewards exhibitors for “stimulating awareness of the value of their stands in relation to brand image and overall exhibition impact,” according to organizers. Companies honored for outstanding booth design included Umberto Franchi.

This year’s jury included Mauro Albano, Brand Manager of Marmomacc; Aldo Bottoli of the Industrial Design Association; Oscar Colli of the magazine Il Bagno Oggi e Domani (Bathroom Today & Tomorrow); Vincenzo Pavan, Marmomacc Consultant for Architecture; and Livio Salvadori of Casabella, the Italian design publication.

Piba Marmi was also among the companies honored for the “Best Communicator Award.”

Italian Industry Report

Among the conferences at Marmomacc 2008, one of the business sessions provided a positive outlook for the Italian stone industry. This message was delivered by Massimo Giorgetti, the Regional Counselor for Public Works; Flavio Tosi, the Mayor of Verona; Luigi Castelletti, the President of VeronaFiere; and Giovanni Mantovani, the Director General of VeronaFiere.

A group of Brazilian stone suppliers were arranged in a national pavilion.

The officials reported that Italian marble was assessed through a study by UniCredit Special Projects on behalf of Marmomacc. This research paints the picture of a field experiencing major evolution, with the re-sizing of Italian exports to its two main traditional buyers - the U.S. and Germany, both down by 5% - and a boom among emerging countries such as Eastern Europe, Maghreb, the Middle East and Asia, according to VeronaFiere. Additionally, an adjustment of product flow and industry activities (less quarrying, more processing) saw growth in exports of 4.3% for 2007 and a balance of trade firmly in the black: 771 million Euros (U.S. $965 million) between raw materials and finished goods, a record figure for the last five years, stated the report.

American exhibitor presence at Marmomacc 2008 included two of the leading U.S. granite producers - Rock of Ages and Cold Spring Granite Co. These two companies exhibited stone products at a collaborative booth space in Verona.

The study also illustrates that overall, Italy - despite suffering from the downturn in its own building industry - confirms its status as world leader in exports with a quota returning to more than 30%, followed by aggressive competitors such as Turkey and China - respectively at 26.2% and 15.5%.

photo courtesy of Thibaut-  A broad range of new stoneworking equipment was introduced at Marmomacc 2008, and it drew strong interest on the show floor.

The Italian areas at the heart of the sector saw Verona react to fluctuations on the two key markets due to a good performance in Western Europe (United Kingdom, France and Spain), but especially in Eastern Europe (Russia, Poland and Czech Republic) and India. Massa Carrara saw new buyers from the Middle East and Maghreb, but also from Russia and India; Lucca found new dynamics in the Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, China and the less exotic United Kingdom, France and Switzerland. Trento was stable, while Vicenza and Bergamo, on the other hand, experienced difficulties in finding alternative outlets in the wake of setbacks with historic buyers, according to the study.

Hosts of the event included (from left): Vince Marazita, who serves as the primary Marmomacc hosted the 10th edition of its continuing education course for architects this past October. Architects from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., India, South Africa and Australia spent four days studying the importance of stone in modern design, including visits to stone quarries, stoneworking factories and the Marmomacc exhibition.

Sidebar: Marmomacc 2008 Continues as a Global Leader in Stone Design and Education

In addition to the international exhibition on stone and technology, Marmomacc also hosted the 10th edition of VeronaFiere’s continuing education programs for architects, which now includes courses in Italy, the U.S. and online. To commemorate this special anniversary, architects who had participated in previous editions of the course were invited back to take part in a special “Reunion” program - sponsored by Mapei, a leading manufacturer of stone installation and maintenance products- that took place in Milan, Trento and Verona.

Guide for the group, and VeronaFiere representatives Janina Mathiasz, Mauro Albano and Martini Franchini.

Alumni conference members arrived in Milan on September 29, where Mapei hosted a dinner for the group at a traditional Milanese restaurant - giving everyone a chance to introduce themselves and begin to get to know one another. The next day, the group toured the Research & Development facilities at Mapei’s world headquarters in Milan.  During the next few days, the tour went on to include AIA/CES-approved presentations by Mapei personnel, a guided architectural tour of the stone renovations at the Duomo Cathedral in Milan as well as visits to other significant architectural works, a granite quarry and fabrication facility in the area, and the Marmomacc exhibition.

Among the learning sessions, the group toured a quarry for Rosso Verona marble, operated by Cave Bonaldi.

A second group of architects - from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., India, South Africa and Australia - spent four days studying the importance of stone in modern design. Participants visited quarries in Verona and Querceta (in Tuscany, near Lucca), various stone-processing facilities and even Pisa’s Piazza dei Miracoli. Nearly 50 architects participated in these programs, which are recognized by the American Institute of Architects, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The ‘Quarry’ project aims to express the strength, value and soul of rock in its entirety, thickness, weight, appearance, form and surface,” according to Claudio Silvestrin, who designed the project for Il Casone. “Surface is itself the co-essence of stone material.”

At the fairgrounds, it remained obvious that the relationship between stone and design continues to be one of Marmomacc’s major draws, as stone trade professionals congregate in Verona each fall to see the impact of new technologies on design. The “Marmomacc Meets Design” (MMD) project, generated more innovative booth designs. MMD 2008 paired leading international designers with 15 stone processors. The pairings focused on this year’s theme - stone as texture or “skin” - in developing everything from objects to entire booth designs. This theme reflects the increasing focus among architects on selecting materials, including natural stone, on the basis of their surface texture, whether in creating objects or in cladding buildings.

Two of the MMD booths shared the Marmomacc Best Communicator Award, presented to the booths with the best visual approaches to conveying the richness and potential of stone. The winners were: Il Casone for Claudio Silvestrin’s “Quarry” booth design and PibaMarmi for Michele de Lucchi and Philippe Nigro’s “Palisade” booth design. Silvestrin, de Lucchi and Nigro were among the many designers involved in this project who were present at Marmomacc.

“I attempted to reproduce in stone the lightness that allows wood to be so flexible, yet at the same time so durable,” says Michele de Lucchi of his “Palisade” project. “I used stone to design a movement.” Philippe Nigro also worked on the project with de Lucchi.

A number of companies received “special mentions” from the Best Communicator Award jury for their booth designs: Vaselli Marmi, Grassi Pietre, Umberto Franchi Marmi, M+Q Italia, Henraux, Lithos Design and Iaconcig.

Other pairings for the MMD project included Mario Bellini/Mineranorge, Riccardo Blumer/Scalvini Marmi, Roberto Canovaro/Marmo Arredo, Aldo Cibic/Quarella, Stefano Giovannoni/Grassi Pietre, Massimo Iosa Ghini/Budri, James Irvine/Marsotto, Simone Micheli/Odorizzi Porfidi, Pietro Ferruccio Laviani/Citco, Pongratz Perbellini Architects/TestiGroup, Marco Piva/Lasa Marmo, Denis Santachiara/Marmi Ghirardi and Luca Scacchetti/Santa Margherita.

Marmomacc 2009 is scheduled to take place from September 30 to October 3, 2009 in Verona, Italy.