The start of 2012 had our staff off and running. Trade show season was in full swing with Surfaces/StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas followed by Cevisama and Revestir. And what we can report back is that tile manufacturers are still setting the bar high when it comes to the quality and aesthetics of today’s tile product lines. Defined textures, saturated colors and an obvious high level of technological know-how are evident in today’s designs.

Every year I am fortunate enough to visit Valencia, Spain, to attend Cevisama — the annual international tile and bathroom furnishings exhibition. As I toured the large exhibition halls, I was amazed at the abundance of new products that were on display. It is apparent that tile manufacturers are investing a great deal in research and development. A full showcase of products that were on display can be found beginning on page 12 of this issue.

Ideally, these new tile products offer more options and inspire more creative uses for both residential and commercial applications. In this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design, we take an extensive look at the latest ways that stone and tile are being employed in kitchen and bath design. Whether the desire is for traditional or contemporary, with the vast amount of collections in the marketplace, there is something for everyone. To view our display of kitchen and bath products, turn to page 18.

It has also become noticeable that designing with the environment in mind is no longer just a trend. The green building movement is firmly entrenched, and although it currently seems more evident in commercial applications — with designs striving for LEED certification — I believe it will gradually catch on with consumers. At both trade shows I have attended so far this year, I have noticed more tile products made with recycled content and even installation products that have received Greenguard certification.

On the subject of green design, this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design features an article about the Train Drivers Facility Building for Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail), which was written by architect David Hughes, RIAI, RIBA of Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) of Dublin, Ireland. This article (beginning on page 30) details how the stone-clad structure became the first certified ultra-low energy building ever developed for a railway company in the world.

We also take a look at a LEED Gold-certified building that has an exterior of regional Wissahickon Schist and a Vermont slate roof. Designed by Voith & Mactavish Architects LLP of Philadelphia, PA, the David L. Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts features both regional and recycled material. Learn more about the project beginning on page 38. Additionally, several other examples of green products and how they contributed to an environmentally friend design can be found in our Green Product Focus on page 46.

So, although we were able to take a moment to catch our breath for a few weeks, it won’t be long before Coverings is upon us, which this year is being held at the Orange County Convention Center is Orlando, FL, from April 17 to 20. Once again, we will be presented with the newest developments in stone and tile collections. Look for a full report on what was shown in our summer issue.