The Showcase matches four outstanding Atlanta-based design firms with four of the nation's finest installation teams. The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), a Coverings co-sponsor that helped originate the Showcase four years ago, initiated these designer-installer match-ups. To participate, installers must have NTCA Five Star Recognition, the association's highest ranking, and be certified by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF). This year's collaborative pairings will produce four installations -- a bar/lounge, a hotel lobby, an in-patient room in a women's birthing center and a master bathroom -- each of which will highlight a different design aesthetic centered on tile and stone.
Bar/lounge design talents Michael Neiswander and Margaret Nysewander of Atlanta's ASD Inc. have conjured a spectacular bar -- "a conceptual art piece, really," said Nysewander -- that will feature all-red tiles from different Ceramics of Italy manufacturers, applied in a faceted manner. "We wanted to challenge ourselves and the installer with something complex," Nysewander went on to say. "The different textures will showcase the installer's methods."
"The design calls for a lot of intricate cuts," agreed Ryan Smith, director of Rimrock Design, the Lake City, FL-based installer assigned to realize the demanding project. "It's the contractor's job to bring it to life." The walls will be clad in simple gray large-format tiles that, like those on the bar, will be applied using Mapei installation products.
Hotel lobby hospitality design veterans Foreman Rogers and Allison Isaacs of Atlanta's tvsdesign are accustomed to working on large hotel lobbies. "The challenge here is to evoke a huge space while working on a rather small scale," said Isaacs. The team has specified Plane, 5- x 10-foot engineered porcelain ceramic wall panels from StonePeak Ceramics for the task of bringing grandeur to their vignette. "It resembles Calacatta Borghini marble," said Isaacs. "It's thin, lightweight, impervious to staining, large, clean, and monolithic --perfect for what we do." The installer, Rod Owen of C.C. Owen Tile Company, Inc., in Jonesboro, GA, is excited to be working with the new material. "Before, the largest panels were 4 x 4 feet," he said. "This big new size really combines slab and tile installation methods." But Owen will get to use his more conventional skills, too, installing various glass and mirror tiles from Traditions in Tile employing TEC installation materials provided by H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc. throughout.
In-patient room in a women's birthing center will be another featured showcase."The whole concept of the room is serenity and relaxation," said Mary Porter, who along with Craig Anderchak -- both of Atlanta's VeenendaalCave Healthcare -- designed the calming space. Their first move was to select Italian tile that looked like light-color fabric, "as if it were soft to the touch," she said. "For the floor, we are using wood-look porcelain tile from Italy, which will work well with the texture of the walls." The opportunity to work with Strata Mat, a new coupling membrane manufactured by Laticrete, intrigues installer Chad Love of David Allen Co. in Birmingham, AL. "The product goes under the tile, and has crack isolation properties so that there's a barrier between the tile and concrete -- an important consideration in a healthcare facility," he said.
Mark Williams of Atlanta's Mark Williams Design Associates will designing a master bathroom. "Many bathrooms are feminine," he said. "I'm doing a more masculine version -- 1920s Gatsby modernized with Deco undertones." To achieve the look, he has specified Noble Co. products and TOTO fixtures along with Crossville tile throughout, including porcelain wall tile in chestnut brown for a neutral background; bright blue glass tile for subtly applied accents; and oblong 4- x 24-inch porcelain floor tile that will be laid in a herringbone pattern. "For the first time we will be working with Crossville's new Laminam very thin wall tile, which will be interesting," said installer Buck Collins of Collins Tile and Stone in Aldie, VA. "It's an opportunity for us to spotlight a new skill." All of the tile will be applied using Mapei installation materials.
"These rooms are not all settings in which you would necessarily expect to see tile," said Bart Bettiga, Executive Director at NTCA. "But one of the Installation Design Showcase's purposes is to demonstrate tile and stone applications that may be unusual or surprising but that turn out to be appropriate and wonderful. Above all, the Showcase highlights just how important the ongoing designer/installer partnership is to a successful project. It offers attendees the chance to witness the industry's best practices first hand and to interact directly with designers and installers during the build-out right there on the show floor. Bringing the field to life in this way is another example of what makes Coverings a unique and valuable experience."