Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone.  Hopefully 2012 will bring health, happiness and success to everyone.


And as always, with the New Year comes the start of "trade show season."  Personally, I will be traveling to Las Vegas at the end of this month to attend Surfaces/StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas and then after a brief stop home, I will be off to Valencia, Spain, for Cevisama.  Of course, there are many other stone and tile exhibitions to follow, but I'm sure most of you already know the schedule, so there is no need for me to list them all.


Architects participating in Veronafiere's "Designing with Natural Stone" course enjoy a tour of a local Italian stoneworking operation.

The reason I bring up the trade shows is not to go on about all the new product introductions (which are always fun to see), but to also make note of the educational side of these exhibitions.  While the extensive seminar program offered by most exhibitions is a great way to catch up on the latest product trends, learn new tips for your business or receive new technical information, there are also other educational opportunities that coincide with these shows. For example, some companies and associations offer presentations at their booths for CEU learning credits. This is a great way for architects and designers to "kill two birds with one stone" so to speak. In addition to walking the show floor to observe all the latest stone and tile products, they also are able to earn some points towards their accreditation.

And taking it a step further, Veronafiere -- the organizer of Marmomacc and Marmomacc Americas -- offers a week-long course, "Designing with Natural Stone," which coincides with the Marmomacc exhibition held each fall in Verona, Italy. The program, which has been in place for more than a decade now, has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as a "Best Practices and Trends" program.

While participants are always pleased to see the beautiful scenery and taste the fine cuisine of Italy, they also leave impressed with the wealth of information and education they receive about the stoneworking region and practices. And since the "Designing with Natural Stone" program has grown to become such a success, Veronafiere has extended it to include a U.S. edition, "Architect Day," which is held during StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas each year.

Introduced in 2009, the program is open to local architects as well as others throughout the U.S. Those who participate earn 6 AIA LUs by the end of the day. In the past, Architect Day has included visits to local quarries and fabrication shops as well as a tour of a prominent architectural project that includes extensive stone in its design. Additionally, the architects are led on a tour of the exhibition floor at StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas as well as attending a series of lecturers that are set up in dedicated booths.

So, rather than looking at the daunting travel schedule that goes along with "trade show season," it is better to see it as a time for learning. We do our best to make our readers aware of upcoming industry events through our eNewsletters, Web site, social media platforms and print editions. Why not take a moment to check out our online Calendar of Events at: http://www.stoneworld.com/events and see what peaks your interest. You just might find yourself booking a flight.