A Connected Experience at Coverings’19
The first time I attended Coverings was as an editor at Garden Design magazine in 2010. Each time I attend this global tile and stone expo, I step onto the show floor and I feel my pulse quicken from the beauty, color, texture, artistry, craftsmanship and inspired applications that surround me. The impulse to touch is constant.
If you think that a “tile and stone expo” sounds boring, you could not be more mistaken. This is why I said “yes” to the invitation to join the Coverings 2019 Attendee Advisory Council. I had no idea how many connections and opportunities would arise from that role for both Kinship and for our clients.
I was asked if I knew of any architects or designers who might be interested in participating in the show’s expanded Installation & Design Experience and immediately asked our client Ryan Young of Interstruct, Inc. In addition to the company’s large-scale commercial design-build work, they also do conceptual planning for businesses, as well as emerging neighborhoods and public spaces. Ryan put his A-team (how he refers to Interstruct’s architecture team) on it, led by Venezuelan Maria Valbuena. Her completely out-of-the-box idea was translated off the page and into a fully realized space featuring tile by Crossville and installed by C.C. Owen Tile Group, who made the real-life build look exactly like the rendering. It was so gratifying to meet Maria and her colleagues Nate Wallace and Carlo Hernandez, who all seemed to have had so much fun working on this project. Ryan thanked me not once, but twice, for this opportunity that turned out to be, as he described it, a great team-building experience.
Which brings me back to thinking about how we at Kinship think of ourselves as part of our clients’ teams and how we are always looking for ways to bring opportunities to them that extend beyond what is included in the contract.
Two more opportunities came our way through my role on the Advisory Council. First, I was asked if I would moderate a panel for an education session, to which I immediately agreed. My obligation turned out to be much greater than moderating and I was tasked with finding panelists and developing the session, and I lucked into a power-trio of women interior designers with about six or seven decades of experience between them. Together, we presented Best Use Cases: Tile in Hospitality, Healthcare and Education. A huge thank you to Margaret Brock, director of hospitality for BRPH (hotels); Jennifer Ramski, owner of Ramski and Company (airports and higher education); and Jackie Stephens, project manager for Advent Health (hospitals) — each of whom truly shined and brought their unique experience to the full room of attendees (many of whom also earned CEU credits).
Last, I was able to get Kinship on the docket to present twice at Coverings CONNECT. Our session, What is Content Marketing (and do I really need it?), was live-streamed (and we’ll have the video soon to share on our website) and well-received, and it gave Sarah Kinbar and me a chance to share what we passionately know: that everyone has a story and that story can be the most powerful marketing tool when shared.
Moving out of the break-out sessions and on to the show floor, here were some of my top-line observations:
I love the national identities so on display as I move through the pavilions of Spain, Italy, and North America (including Mexico), as well as the strong showing from Turkey. I could overhear foreign languages being spoken and smell the aromas of lunchtime catering for guests and cocktail parties that feature each country’s specialty foods.
In addition to all the sensory pleasures, I am always surprised by the innovations — such as those I learned about at Fiandre, whose large-format tiles drew me in.
Fiandre is putting large ceramic slabs that look like stone into applications such as countertops, cabinet fronts, shower walls, and island tops. Suddenly, surfaces that stained and required sealing and regular maintenance require none. Another innovation is using porcelain slabs as a seamless surface that conducts heat, cold and even as a power-charging station. I was just at the Miami Confidante Hotel that recently completed a major renovation to its meeting spaces where they used this exact technology to make beautiful, spacious countertops double as hot or cold cooktops for catering.
Another stand-out moment was when Fiandre’s Ashley Kelley told me she attended BOTH of Kinship’s content marketing presentations at Connect on the showroom floor. Her favorite takeaway was our suggestion to add content marketing as a topic to weekly staff meetings as a chance to say, “Hey, what’s happened in the last week that we can tell others about?”
I also loved meeting the artists behind the art tile offerings such as Allison Eden, whose art glass creations are made in Brooklyn and whose personality is as colorful as her imagination. Her bold, intricate patterns are now reproduced as carpets and upholstery fabric (from which she made her dress!). I can’t wait to visit her workshop where she teaches her craft to her employees.
At her booth, I also met Thomas Wolosik who developed a 3-D visualization tool for designers to use on HouseTipster.com. But he also shares it with design influencers such as Allison Eden so their clients can see what a room will look like with different patterns. I got to try this out in her booth and I understand it will be a tool available on her website soon. Cool stuff!
My biggest takeaway? Aside from the fact that if I were building my dream home I don’t know how I’d ever limit my tile choices, I clearly see that every single entrepreneur in the tile industry needs to use content — bite-sized stories — to help potential clients know the story behind the people and the tile and stone that they design, craft, manufacture, sell and install.
There’s a conversation everywhere. Let’s talk!