Planning is well underway for Coverings 2009, the largest tile and stone trade show in North America. Once again, the show will be held at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center, with the expo and conference running from April 21-24. In addition to featuring the latest tile and stone products and related installation products and techniques, this year marks a milestone for the show, which will mark its 20th anniversary.

“Coverings’ growth over the past 20 years has been astounding, paralleling the interest in and growth of the tile and stone industry,” said Glenn Feder, president of client events for National Trade Productions, which manages and produces the show. “Obviously, there are challenges ahead in 2009, but Coverings still promises to be the ultimate under-one-roof marketplace for seeing a top international lineup of tile and stone products. A jam-packed schedule already is shaping up for the continuing education programming and topical presentations by leading experts on trends, technology and training. And, you can be assured that the opportunity for networking and building valuable business connections will be as robust as ever.”

According to Feder, what he’s hearing from exhibitors who’ve committed to the 2009 show is that, in spite of the uncertainty of the current economy, they will be investing in their displays with fervor and imagination equal to past years. Since the creative and inspirational magnitude of Coverings exhibits has long been one of the show’s greatest draws, this comes as good news, especially to the architectural and design community who, in particular, considers Coverings to be a vital resource for mining new uses and applications of tile and stone, as much as it is a trade show for viewing new products.

To further ensure Coverings stays responsive to this important segment of attendees, several of the A+D professional associations, such as IIDA, ASID, NKBA are participating in the development of the programming and events. Additionally, the Spectrum and Prism Awards continue to be an integral part of Coverings as they honor innovative architecture and design projects featuring, respectively, tile and stone. Last year, $37,500 in prize money was presented, and the purse in 2009 is anticipated to be about the same.

An aggressive initiative is also underway to bring more distributors and their top customers to Coverings. A program that was inaugurated when Coverings was last in Chicago in 2007 and also conducted this year in Orlando will be in place again to help underwrite some of the travel costs for distributor-hosted junkets.

Coverings attendance is free of charge, as are all seminar sessions, Feder reminded. “It’s untypical of most trade shows,” he noted. 

Coverings is sponsored by ASCER (Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association of Spain), Confindustria Ceramica (Italian Association of Ceramics), Tile Council of North America (TCNA), Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), and National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). Online registration for attendees will be accessible in October at