Technology and creativity are two of the driving forces behind product development, and judging by the stone and tile collections that have been introduced this year, manufacturers have been diligently working to create unique product lines that intrigue and inspire architects and designers. An assortment of the newest stone and tile products to hit the market were on display at two large exhibitions that took place this spring -- The Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS), which was held at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL, and Coverings, a stone and tile exhibition held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

The show floor at each exhibition was filled with hundreds of displays. Colors ranged from bold to subdued, and a number of surface finishes, including matte, satin and antiqued, were also showcased. While touring the exhibition halls, it also became evident that textures are all the rage; whether subtle or dramatic, they can bring depth and contrast to a design.

Innovative products showcased at these events included white marble countertops, integrated sinks and exotic stones, as well as shimmering glass mosaics, dazzling metallics and tile made to resemble stone and wood. Decorative tile patterns -- mimicking fabric and flowers -- were also a "hot" item at both K/BIS and Coverings. And staying true to the traditional side, well-crafted, hand-painted tiles maintained a strong presence on the show floors.

Additionally, both exhibitions included displays from some of the leading manufacturers of stone and tile installation and maintenance products. Many of these companies performed live demonstrations to illustrate to attendees the benefits of their products.

The following is only a sampling of the endless selection of stone and tile products that were displayed at K/BIS and Coverings 2008:

Vermont Quarries Corp.'s Danby Marble

Vermont Quarries Corp. has increased the production of its complete line of Danby Marble slabs and tile. With the high cost of the Euro and white marble becoming the design choice for kitchen countertops, Danby Marble's low absorption rate of 0.06% have all made for the high demand, according to Vermont Quarries. Daily production has been increased to over 3,000 square feet per day, when necessary. Aside from slabs, Danby Marble is being extensively utilized for cut-to-size projects, such as Vornado Realty in New York City, shown here using Mountain White Danby.

Tau's Galileo collection

Tile of Spain branded manufacturer, Tau, presented its Galileo collection for both the floor and wall. This collection of state-of-the-art, contemporary ceramic tile is inspired by abstract art -- its brush strokes in slight variations of texture and shade give a modeled look to the tile. A larger format of 11.8 x 23.6 inches is the perfect canvas for both Negro and White/Colors versions, according to the manufacturer.

Trans Ceramica's Earth Naturals collection

Chicago-based Trans Ceramica, a GranitiFiandre company, introduced its American-produced Earth Naturals collection. The through-body, glazed porcelain collection was a collaborative design effort between GranitiFiandre's American and Italian design teams, along with direct input and feedback from the company's key customers. Foliage, fibers, fronds, reeds and stalks -- interlaced and woven for domestic purposes throughout the ages -- are the inspiration for the Earth Naturals collection, according to the manufacturer. The collection is available in five hues and a range of format sizes, including 24 x 24, 12 x 24, 4 x 24, 18 x 18, 12 x 18, 6 x 18 and 12 x 12 inches.

CaesarStone's Honed collection's color addition

CaesarStone, a quartz surface manufacturer, now offers three new colors -- Raven, Pebble and Rosemary -- in its Honed collection. CaesarStone honed finishes are a unique matte finish that looks like untouched natural stone, reports the company. Even with the honing process, the surface maintains the same properties as the company's polished surfaces -- it is still non-porous and doesn't need to be sealed, according to CaesarStone. In addition to the three new shades, the Honed collection includes: Champagne Limestone, Desert Limestone, Crème Limestone, Jerusalem Sand, Misty Carerra and Lagos Blue.

StoneImpressions' line of environmentally friendly tiles

StoneImpressions recently launched its largest release ever of new products, which are created using an exclusive artist-developed process to hand print almost unlimited designs on stone. Among the new collections is an exclusive new line of environmentally friendly accent, mural and border tiles that express warm beauty and texture of natural stone, but are made of an advanced composite using recycled materials. The sustainable tiles feature rich colors and a texture palette similar to travertine and limestone.

Gainey Ceramics' Loft collection

Gainey Ceramics has introduced its Loft collection -- featuring unique tiles that are contemporary in nature. The "fun" shapes are available in several styles and colors. "Wilshire," which resembles a basket-weave pattern, is available in matte brown and matte khaki, while "The Heights" (shown) are elongated pieces in gloss green. Additionally, "Chelsea" is offered in matte gray. All of the tiles in the Loft collection are three-dimensional, and they are ideal for creating a focal point in commercial designs, according to the company.

World Wide Stone Corp.'s Vera Cruz â„¢'s variety of Durango Stoneâ„¢

World Wide Stone Corp. showcased the Vera Cruz TM variety of Durango StoneTM, extracted from a newly established site in Mexico. The stone is available in a range of tile sizes, including large-format tile.

Walker Zanger's Vibe Mosaics collection

Walker Zanger is proud to celebrate the bold and sassy designs of the swinging 60s and 70s in its all-new Vibe Mosaics collection. Crafted of ceramic and porcelain, these designs put a new spin on the geometries and colors that defined the era, in rugged tiles that can be used for both walls and flooring and are durable enough to grace virtually any room of the home, according to the company. The Vibe Mosaics collection is available in a myriad of patterns -- mesh-mounted for easy installation -- and three unique glazes, including a dramatic reactive crackle glaze which imparts not only a deep color but "flashing" effect, replete with a pale blue shimmer, a vibrant opaque non-crackle glaze, and a striking non-crackle translucent glaze. Tiles in the collection are offered in 10 styles and nine colors, including Shag Green, Boggie Brown and Powder Blue (shown).

Diamond Tech Tiles' VisionGlassâ„¢ tile series

Diamond Tech Tiles capitalizes on the benefits of glass with the new VisionGlass™ tile series. This 8-mm-thick, large, smooth tile has polished edges, which produce an immediate feeling of luxury, elegance and expanse. VisionGlass™ tile provides choices in color, size and shape. A color-matching system allows for an extensive selection of rich, brilliant colors for vertical design application. A unique manufacturing process using PPG Starphire® low-iron glass ensures superior clarity and color attainment, according to Diamond Tech Tiles. Additionally, a state-of-the-art, dual-coat system protects the paint from chipping and flaking for durability. Colors will not fade with time, and they will stand up to the effects of heat, water and UV light, reports the company.

Bestview International specialties

Bestview International specializes in various high-grade granite, marble and slate products, including tiles, slabs, vanity tops, countertops, hand-carved fireplaces, marble mosaics and medallions. The company also produces custom work from its factory in China, such as the balustrades, pilasters, balustrade caps and trellis columns that were fabricated out of Temple White granite for the the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) temple (shown).

Inalco's Atelier series

Tile of Spain branded manufacturer, Inalco, brings a subtle metallic stripe in floor tiles to the market in subtle tones of Camel, Brandy, Marengo and Nacár that is reminiscent of fine men's suitings, a series aptly named Atelier. The tiles in the Atelier series are available in large formats of 23.6 x 23.6 and 13 x 23.6 inches, and created with Inalco's IPLUS digital technology.

Cosentino's Silestone quartz sinks

Cosentino's Silestone integrated natural quartz sinks offer a seamless design application from countertop to sink. Available in 32 select colors, Silestone sinks contain the strength and durability of Silestone quartz countertops, including its natural scratch-, scorch- and stain-resistance and Microban® antimicrobial product protection, reports Consentino. The quartz in Silestone countertops and integrated sinks provide the strength to withstand constant kitchen and bathroom use. Silestone sinks utilize the Aquartz advanced patented production process, are naturally non-porous and do not require sealing.

Fila's Marble Restorer Kit

Fila offers its Marble Restorer Kit, which allows users to maintain polished marble surfaces, including the repair of etching. The kit includes Fila Marble Shine to polish the surface and Fila Formula Marmo to clean, nourish and protect the surface, as well as all of the necessary pads and items needed to apply the products.

Gregoriana Stone porcelain tiles from Seneca Tiles

The magnificence and charm of the marble surfaces found in great European cathedrals and noble imperial palaces inspire reinterpretation in Gregoriana Stone unglazed technical through-body porcelain tiles from Seneca Tiles, according to the company. Tiles in the collection are available in three colors: Light, Cloud and Night (shown with rectified edge and natural finish); natural or rectified edges and honed or natural finishes; and two handcrafted mosaic styles: brick and square. Companion trims include elegant contemporary pencil-listellos in materials such as misty glass, brushed stainless steel and flashing mirror; matching unglazed porcelain 6- x 24-inch and 6- x 18-inch listellos with a platinum "traditional vine" overall pattern (also shown); and matching unglazed porcelain stair tread, stair tread corner, cove base and skirting.

Custom® Building Products' Aqua® Mix line upgrades

Custom® Building Products, an industry leader in high-quality tile and stone installation systems, announced that cleaners in its respected line of Aqua® Mix non-toxic, water-based tile care products are being upgraded to increase effectiveness while reducing environment impact. Created specifically for stone, tile and grout, Aqua Mix's selection of biodegradable cleaners will deliver the power and professional results of traditional cleaners without solvents or phosphates, according to Custom Building Products. Aqua Mix biodegradable cleaner formulas are designed to break down quickly and naturally in the environment.

Pokarna Limited's Golden Dream

Pokarna Limited, an India-based stone producer that offers more than 80 premium colors of granite, introduced its newest stone -- Golden Dream, an exotic color from the company's own quarry. This material is suitable for most uses, including kitchen countertops, flooring and vanities, according to the company. Golden Dream is available in slabs and tiles in polished, honed, flamed, brushed, bushhammered and silk finishes.

Laticrete International's 125 Sound and Crack Adhesive

Laticrete International, a global leader in the manufacturing of innovative systems for the installation of ceramic tile and stone, has launched Laticrete® 125 Sound and Crack Adhesive, a flexible, lightweight Kevlar® reinforced sound-deadening and anti-fracture mortar that takes the place of liquid or sheet membranes used in traditional thin-set combinations to deaden sound and bridge cracks. Laticrete 125 Sound and Crack Adhesive provides incredible sound transmission protection, while simultaneously bridging existing cracks in the substrate up to 1/8 inch and preventing new cracks from transmitting through to the finished tile or stone surface, according to the manufacturer.

M. Teixeira Soapstone's Cobra Soapstone

M. Teixeira Soapstone is an exclusive importer of Cobra Soapstone from India. With its consistent tones, this material is ideal for those looking for a "quiet" stone, according to the company. Cobra Soapstone only comes in the largest slab size of 84 x 30 inches.

Urbanite by Florida Tile

Urbanite is a rectified throughbody porcelain. Each of the five colors in the Urbanite range is the result of mixing atomized powders -- obtained using technology patented by Florida Tile. The transparency of the Urbanite decoration enhances the richness of the mix and the brilliance of powders used in the body. Urbanite has a unique surface, smooth to the touch and extraordinarily natural, which is obtained by using a final dry application of a compound quartziferous silico, directly on the decoration line, to achieve an exclusive effect called "Silk," according to the company. Porcelain field tile sizes are available in 12 x 12, 18 x 18, 8 x 24, 12 x 24 and 24 x 24 inches.

Trikeenan's Elementals

Trikeenan's Elementals offer the ultimate in creativity, according to the company. A selection of 20 field patterns and four border patterns are available in any combination of the company's 47 colors -- making design options nearly limitless. Moreover, Trikeenan showcases 12 stock random blends available in most patterns or customers can choose to create their own custom blend. Elementals are available in square- or round-edge styles and come sheet mounted. Featured are 1- x 4-inch Soldier Stack in bamboo from the Elementals collection.

Chic collection by Cerim

Inspired by traditional wood surfaces, the Chic collection by Cerim is a contemporary solution for wall coverings. Delicate graphics evoke the grain of the wood and the surface is polished and reflects the decorations characterized by contemporary graphics and warm colors, according to the manufacturer. Chic is a perfect balance between tradition and design, resulting in minimal, warm and welcoming ambiences.

Hakatai Enterprises Inc.'s Classic "Transparent Series"

Hakatai Enterprises Inc., an importer and distributor of glass tile and mosaic murals, recently launched the Classic "Transparent Series" -- a luminous mosaic tile reminiscent of antique bottles or miniature glass blocks. The new Transparent Series in a completely clear line of 3/4- x 3/4-inch mosaic glass tiles, offering architects, specifiers, dealers and homeowners another unique glass tile option for commercial or residential, interior or exterior applications, according to the company. Because each tile in the Transparent Series is completely clear, the horizontal and vertical ridges on the back of the tile are visible and considered part of this lines unique composition. The tiles in the series are offered in four colors: Clear Glass, Blue Glass, Amber Glass and Aqua Glass, and available in 1.15-square-foot paper-face mounted sheets or loose in 1-pound bags.

Crossville's Echo Recycled Glass tile line

Designed by one of the industry's most respected color forecasters, Barbara Schirmeister, Crossville's Echo Recycled Glass tile line is ideal for walls, countertops and floors, according to the manufacturer. The line has a clear, luminescent quality, and is available in 15 colors, including white, black and red as well as soft blues, greens and ambers. Additionally, the recycled glass tile is offered in three finishes: clear, iridescent and a sophisticated frosted matte; and five sizes: 1 x 1, 1 x 3, 2 x 2 and 2 x 4 inches as well as listellos.

Circle collection by Akdo

The Circle collection offered by Akdo consists of a variety of mosaics that range from feminine to masculine, and gentle to bold. With the use of a classic color palette and a variety of well thought out patterns, Akdo has produced a group of circle products that surpasses the basic penny rounds seen in the coverings market, reports the company. The high quality of the mosaics in the Circle collection is the result of careful selection of stones and the design of unique patterns -- ranging from graceful to contemporary. To ensure that there are no chipped edges or uneven sizes, Akdo's engineers developed custom machinery to produce the circles.

Jeffrey Court, Inc.'s Antico Portuguese

Jeffrey Court, Inc., a California tile maker known for distinctive ceramic, stone, glass and metal covering materials, introduced a new collection, Antico Portuguese, at KBIS this year. Beautiful handcrafted rustic field tiles and moldings complement an extensive variety of hand-painted tiles in this new collection. Made in its Southern California factory, these decorative ceramic tiles create a dramatic distinction with a Santa Barbara flair, according to the company.

Pampeano Collection from Carmel Stone

The Pampeano Collection is Carmel Stone's exclusive Argentine Dolomite line, which has multi-color earth tones and a slightly brushed surface. This product is a rich, warm and luxurious natural stone, but is very dense and hard, suitable or both interior and exterior use. Carmel Stone stocks this material in a variety of field sizes, mosaics and decorative trims.