Now that summer is almost here, I can finally breathe and relax a little. Looking back, the first half of the year was busy. There were several trade shows that I attended as well as a couple of international trips where I was fortunate enough to visit some quarries and stone processing plants. Most recently, I joined a group of architects on a voyage to Portugal where we had the opportunity to explore several marble and limestone quarries.jennifer adams

The trip was organized by the Portuguese stone association Assimagra and Veronafiere Marmomacc Stone Academy. The course, “Designing with Natural Stone Portugal 2014,” was the first initiative of its kind developed in Portugal and directed to foreign architects in the U.S., Canada, UK, Brazil and South Africa. The architects were able to earn 21 educational credits approved by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

While this was the first course of its kind in Portugal, the “Designing with Natural Stone” course is now in its 16th year. Developed as a unique combination of classroom lectures and guided visits to quarries and processing facilities, it is held annually in conjunction with Marmomacc, the large international stone exhibition which takes place in Verona, Italy, each year. Stone World, a sister publication of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design, is a sponsor of the course.

Many of the architects that participated in the Portugal trip had also completed the course in Verona. Once talking with them, it became obvious that they truly are interested in learning more about stone. One architect that I had met several years ago in Verona and then again in Portugal, was telling me that he is now working with one of the Italian companies that the group visited the year he took part in the course. I think it is great to see that this architect took advantage of the opportunities the course opened up for him and has now built a relationship with an Italian stone company.

Taking part in a program such as “Designing with Natural Stone” is a great way to get in the field and learn about new materials as well as new stone processing techniques. And even if you are unable to participate in this course, there are certainly other ways to learn about new stone and tile products.

One of my other recent trips was to Las Vegas to attend Coverings, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. The show was larger than ever and had numerous displays of new stone and tile collections. You can view a sampling of some of the latest introductions in our Coverings Product Review, which begins on page 10 of this issue.

The summer will give the staff of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design a chance to refuel, but it won’t be long before we hit the road again. This fall we will be attending Marmomacc as well as Cersaie, which is a large international tile exhibition held annually in Bologna, Italy. Additionally, The International Surface Event East will debut in Miami this October. We’ll be sure to report back on what we see in upcoming editions.