I recently returned home from Coverings, which was held in Las Vegas this year. This was the last of three trade exhibitions specifically geared for stone and tile that I have attended in the past two months. While the travel itself might have been a little exhausting, it certainly was worth it. Putting together this edition of The Stone & Tile Design Insider gave me an opportunity to review all of the new stone and tile introductions I observed -- and there are many. Technology is definitely at the forefront.

Whether it was StonExpo/Surfaces, Cevisama or Coverings, stone and tile manufacturers were showcasing a broad spectrum of innovative and eye-catching products. Three-dimensional effects are big this year. So many tile products feature textured surfaces that reflect light and cause a unique optical effect. The textured surfaces are also making both stone and tile come alive. Certain finishes give the impression of suede or velvet, which really make the tile look as if it is soft to the touch.

Also, many tile manufacturers are now proudly promoting their use of HD digital printing, which results in more defined textures and allows for endless possibilities in customizing tiles. The advances in digital printing are also behind the significantly improved appearance of
stone- and wood-look tiles. The veining of the stone and graining of the wood are so much more defined than even a few years ago -- making the product more authentic to natural materials.

In the stone arena, many options in sizes and shapes are being offered, as well as a range of trim pieces. Stone producers are also offering more options in finishes, which lend themselves to more design styles. New exotic stones were also being introduced. I saw onyx in shades of pink and light green as well as delicate semi-precious stone slabs, which in the right setting can totally dress up a space.

Just a sampling of the numerous new products I saw while strolling the exhibition floor at Coverings can be found in the Product Review section of this E-newsletter. A more extensive line-up will be featured in the summer issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design, which will be out in June.