As usual, manufacturers of tile and stone have been hard at work to bring new products to the market that they believe will generate interest in the architectural and design community. This was evident when visiting some of the largest tile and stone exhibitions that have already taken place this year. Manufacturers are investing time and money to research and develop high-end product lines that are fresh and unique, and it is up to architects and designers to take this inspiration and utilize these collections to create innovative and unique designs for both residential and commercial spaces.

More and more manufacturers are focusing their attention on architects and designers. They realize the value in marketing their products to the ones who actually are the most influential in the selection process. As a result, they are constantly working to improve upon existing products as well as developing new ones. In recent years, this has become obvious when observing the newest collections on display. Iridescent glass and metal tiles, stone-look tiles and waterjet-cut and etched stone decorative pieces are all examples of elements that can liven up a living space or public area.

This edition ofContemporary Stone & Tile Designcontains a number of examples of new products on the market, and applications in which they have been used. Most recently, Surfaces, a leading exhibition for flooring, was held in Las Vegas. The show includes a range of stone and tile, with many exhibitors who introduced interesting new collections. Additionally, manufacturers of installation and maintenance products are also trying to come up with products, such as colored grout, which appeal to architects and designers. And they are also promoting the practical qualities of those products.

Meanwhile, at Cevisama in Valencia, Spain, tile manufacturers lined the exhibit halls with an assortment of colors, sizes and textures of ceramic, porcelain, glass and metal tile. Modular-format tiles were also popular. One manufacturer, in particular, specifically mentioned they were offering this product because they know that architects like to utilize different sizes to create floor and wall patterns.

Countless trim and accent pieces are also readily available today. Mixing mediums to add pizzazz has become common. Wood pieces in between stone tiles, marble accent dots on a porcelain tile floor or a metal tile backsplash with a granite countertop are all ways to mix and match materials.

Manufacturers are also putting thought into their displays to illustrate ways to utilize their collections. They are taking measures to rotate their boards in showrooms, as to keep their products from becoming stale. The list of tile and stone products on the market today is countless. Architects and designers have so many more options available to them now, as opposed to five or 10 years ago. The opportunity has been presented to take these products to create inspiring designs. It is now the role of specifiers to introduce them to clients in the commercial and residential sectors, and encourage tile and stone manufacturers to continue to develop cutting-edge design elements.

Jennifer Adams