May 1st, 2006


May-June 2006

Winners come and go from Charlotte Arena. But a permanent champ is the building’s tile mural, and it earned the Grand Prize in the prestigious Spectrum Awards honoring outstanding use of ceramic tile. Mosaic artist Mike Mandel, of Watertown, MA, created the modern mosaic masterpiece and received the $10,000 cash prize and Spectrum crystal sculpture that were presented at the opening ceremony of Coverings, the world’s leading exposition and conference for ceramic tile and stone.

Mandel’s design, cited by the judges for its brilliance in “uniting modern computer technology with old world craftsmanship and art,” was on behalf of the Charlotte, North Carolina, Arts & Science Council and was installed by D&M Contract Flooring of Knoxville, TN. More than 100 colors of unglazed porcelain and glass mosaic tile were used in the floor-to-ceiling composition that spans an interior wall of a lobby area in the arena. Each one-inch square tile used in the mosaic was equivalent to an electronic pixel. The panels trick the eye, appearing to be billboards or other photographic posters until you move in for a closer look. The images are riveting, portraits of unsung athletes and sports players from throughout the decades.

Commercial Category…

For a joyous display about women and style within the unusual setting of a pseudo-public restroom, Cravillion Tile & Stone, based in Sheboygan, WI, received First Prize honors in the commercial category. It was installed at the nearby John Michael Kohler Arts Center and featured more than 120 tiles hand painted by artist Cynthia Consentino. Her fanciful representations of hats, handbags, bras, jewelry, combs and other girly items that have contributed to shaping the identity of women also decorated toilet bowls and sink basins. The tile installation was a challenge, requiring a precise fit within the space and defying the conventional way a contractor typically lays tile, horizontally bottom to top, left to right. This job was installed in completely opposite fashion, vertically top to bottom, right to left! It left the judges impressed, saying, “This is original and well-executed.”

An additional First Prize was awarded in the commercial category, going to Twin Dolphin Mosaics for a mos aic pavement in the atrium of the Southern Oregon University Library, Ashland, OR. Solid body porcelain tile was fractured into unexpected chip shapes and sizes then composed into a visual treat of color and pattern that reads attractively at all levels and in all lighting conditions. Ribbons of color weave in and out and follow a spiral movement, as well. There’s a vitality to the artwork, but, a functionality to the ceramics which is easy to maintain, doesn’t fade and wears well with the amount of high traffic the library experiences. Twin Dolphin’s Robert Stout traveled from his studio in Ravenna, Italy, to accept the award.

Conducted annually as part of Coverings, the Spectrum Awards celebrates creativity and achievement in the use of ceramic tile in residential and commercial projects. Serving this year as judges were design journalist Wendy Goodman, whose masthead credits include interior design editor of New York Magazine, style editor of Departures and contributing editor of Elle Décor; and, Jennifer Adams, editor for the past nine years of both Stone World and Contemporary Tile and Stone magazines. They were joined by representatives of Coverings sponsors: Christine Abbate, Assopiastrelle (Tile of Italy); Bob Daniels and Shannon Woodmansee, Tile Council of North America; and Mary Anne Piccirillo, ASCER (Tile of Spain). The Spectrum Awards competition also is sponsored by the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association and the National Tile Contractors Association.

Six Trailers of Exhibitor Donations for Tile Partners for Humanity

A convoy of six trailer trucks pulled out of the Orange County Convention Center at the close of the 19th edition of Coverings carrying tons of ceramic tile and stone from the four-day expo to housing projects in the Orlando area earmarked for families and individuals in need of shelter. Filling 155 pallets, the collection of tile, stone, marble, adhesives, tools, cleaners and sealants represented contributions from the trade show’s 1,200 exhibitors who rallied again this year in a commitment to Tile Partners for Humanity (TPFH). Additionally, Freeman, the service contractor for Coverings, donated the labor for gathering these goods from the show floor and transporting them to Habitat for Humanity, which subsequently helped to distribute the donations throughout the area.

“This is a component of Coverings that makes every one of us feel proud,” said Tamara Christian, Coverings show director and president of National Trade Productions. “It is helping out so many deserving families in the Orlando community who are grateful just to have the very basic needs of a finished floor, a shower, a kitchen. They really appreciate the tile and stone contribution. It is precious material to them because it’s helping them rebuild their lives.”

According to Allyson Fertitta, executive director of TPFH, this is the third year Coverings has partnered with the organization. All told in that time, she estimates exhibitors have contributed materials valued at several hundreds of thousands of dollars. She noted that in addition to being provided for installation in projects currently underway, some of the donations also will end up in the Habitat Home Store and will be sold, generating revenue to help fund new construction. And, as sizable as the product donations have been each year, she said, Coverings management also adds a substantial cash contribution to TPFH. “They are extraordinarily generous.”

“There is a great need for affordable housing in this community,” she continued, “and Habitat for Humanity is doing an amazing job addressing the issue. We are grateful to partners, like Coverings, who step up to the plate and actively work with exhibitors to acquaint them with all the benefits. It’s a win-win program for all who become involved.”

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