More Stone Federation members than ever before are joining the Federation at the 25th anniversary Natural Stone Show this year to get their messages to the architects and designers, developers, contractors, and stone industry professionals who attend what is billed as the only exhibition in the UK and Ireland dedicated exclusively to the stone industry.
The Natural Stone Show is being held at ExCeL London from 30th April to 2nd May. At the event, a rich spectrum of British stone will be presented by Stone Federation GB members.
Welsh Slate will showcase what is widely regarded as one of the world's best slates in its various forms: Penrhyn Heather Blue, Penrhyn Heather Red, Cwt-y-Bugail Dark Blue Grey, Pen Yr Orsedd Green and Penrhyn Heather Grey.
Albion Stone return to champion their beds of Portland stone: the Whitbed, the Basebed, the Roach and the newly introduced Ostrea Patch Reef Whitbed.
Another signature stone on display will be Purbeck from Lovell Stone Group, who will also present their Chilmark and Chicksgrove limestones, Somerset Blue and White Lias, Hurdcott Green sandstone from Wiltshire and the premium Bath Stone from Hartham Park.
Stamford Stone Company exhibit for the first time as the sole supplier of the famous Clipsham limestone, used for projects such as the Nazrin Shah Centre. This building was short-listed for this year's top architectural award, the RIBA Stirling Prize
The rapidly expanding Johnston Quarry Group have committed to their largest stand to date following their acquisition of Bath Stone Group and Hanson Bath & Portland, with its reserves of Bath Stone at the divided Hartham Park underground quarry. Johnston will also promote Oathill Quarry Cotswold limestone, Creeton Quarry limestone and Great Tew ironstone.
Gallagher Group, the only company still quarrying Kentish Ragstone, are showing the stone used for many new builds and prestigious heritage projects in Kent and London, including the renovation of the Tower of London.
Johnsons Wellfield Quarries will display their highly regarded Crosland Hill Yorkstone, used for ashlar, walling, cladding and paving, having just obtained planning permission to extend their quarry and secure supplies into the future. A notable example of its use is Huddersfield University's Oastler Building.
Another prominent name will be Doulting Stone, used to build Wells Cathedral since the 12th century and still being used for restoration and new build today, will also have a dedicated stand.
Strong international flavour
International Stone Federation members will be represented, including Portuguese limestone and marble producer Airemármores. and McMonagle Stone, Ireland’s largest producer and exporter of Donegal quartzite and Mountcharles sandstone.
Stone Federation's membership covers the whole spectrum of the stone industry and, apart from quarry companies, those exhibiting at ExCeL include The Ethical Stone Company, who will be exhibiting the latest innovations in the stone industry including Volkanite cast basalt from the Czech Republic, Porphyry from Trento, Valser Quartzite from Switzerland, and glass fusion printed Lavastone from Etna.
Another of the first time exhibitors is Marble & Ceramic City. They are specialists in the supply and installation of natural stone and have worked with many prestigious names on projects such as Brunei House, The Arts Club, Hilton Metropolitan and the Park Lane hotels, in addition to high-end private residential developments in central London.
Installation and maintenance
Fix, seal and maintenance solutions will be available from market leading Stone Federation members.Lithofin will have their technical team on hand to offer advice on cleaning and sealing stone and tiles.
Fila Surface Care Products will present a range of new solvent-free LEED-approved sealants.
Dry Treat will be promoting their impregnating sealer technology.
Ardex will display a portfolio of tile adhesives, grouts and silicones that incorporate their Rapidry Formula and Microtec technologies.
Tremco Illbruck will show specialist jointing sealants for use with natural stone in an extensive colour range.
Returning to the Natural Stone Show, Jupiter Heating Systems will present their unique underfloor heating system.
Stone Federation also counts among its membership leading consultants specialising in stone, who are exhibiting alongside the Federation and will be on hand to discuss any particular requirements you have for projects; however the stone is being used – cladding, hard landscaping, interiors, restoration; domestic or commercial.
Harrison Goldman offer stone and fixing design, specifications, stone sourcing, factory and quarry visit.
Sandberg also provide UKAS-accredited in-house testing services to international standards, including petrographic examination and scanning electron microscopy / ISIS energy dispersive x-ray microanalysis.
And, of course, the Stone Federation themselves will have a major presence in the Stone Village at the centre of the Natural Stone Show.
Visitors can attend ‘on-stand’ CPD-accredited seminars for the first time; get advice from a dedicated helpdesk; engage with live stonemasonry demonstrations; review training schemes from affiliated colleges; and find out more about industry initiatives including the Ethical Stone Register. A full programme will be released in early February.
And, because so many of its members will visit the Natural Stone Show, the Stone Federation GB has decided to hold its AGM during the event this time. It will take place on Wednesday 1st May in the South Gallery Rooms of ExCel, above the exhibition halls.
A strong display of surface synergy
This year’s edition of the Natural Stone Show will reflect how barriers between natural stone and ceramics in the tile sector have evaporated, and explore the impact of super-size porcelain slabs, and sintered stone surfaces, on the worktop and furniture sectors.
To really emphasise these highly significant market developments, this year’s event will be twinned with a complementary new show called Hard Surfaces. This is highly relevant as stone processors now find an increasing proportion of their business coming from these new sources rather than the granites and quartz they worked in the past.
For many, the choice between natural stone, porcelain, sintered stone and other ultra-compact surfaces, is one of aesthetic appreciation and application. While many cherish the unique nature of stone, others prefer non-porous, low-maintenance porcelains, many of which realistically reproduce both the colour and texture of natural stone.
That can be especially true with indoor/outdoor transitions, where interior floors carry out on to patios and terraces.
Porcelain and UCS materials have also made it feasible to use white and light coloured marble effects on high traffic areas and worksurfaces where it would be less advisable to use the porous natural materials that are susceptible to staining by food and foot traffic.
The increased range of materials in this market has opened new opportunities for traditionally stone processors, as well as for tile, kitchen and bathroom showrooms. This new stream of products is also opening up new opportunities for interior contractors, and specialist tilers.
Reflecting all these factors, the combined event will bring together the production, design, specification, and purchasing chain for this whole genre of materials under one roof.
When the Natural Stone Show was launched In 1995, most stone companies exclusively worked natural stone. Their expansion into a broader range of engineered stone products dictated the evolution of the Natural Stone Show, and this has reached its logical conclusion with the creation of Hard Surfaces. Just as the introduction of porcelain and UCS, and before them engineered quartz, expanded the size of the entire KBB and tile sector, it is logical and beneficial for the Hard Surfaces exhibition to be co-located with the Natural Stone Show in order to build upon its success.
This new event will demonstrate how, in tiles, the direction of travel was reversed: starting in ceramics and broadening out into stone due to customer demand. The combined exhibition will explore the whole of the diverse stone and ceramic sector; and cover a panorama of innovative and exciting products offering new designs, new colours, new patterns, new textures and new opportunities at every turn.
The show will demonstrate that even the current trend towards industrial chic concrete and distressed metal finishes does not represent a threat to existing companies because it is the new UCS and porcelain materials in slabs and large format tiles that are leading the way by making the aesthetic practical and achievable.
Architects, designers, fabricators, and fixers are excited by this new generation of hard surfaces; with designs and textures that surprise, excite and inspire. And to really appreciate the quality of these products they need to be seen, felt, held, compared. That is the opportunity offered by this combination of the Natural Stone Show and Hard Surfaces. The show will offer an extraordinarily varied palette of stone surfaces from around the world, together with the latest ‘Fix, Seal & Maintenance’ solutions.
TSJ collaborates to add value
Clear evidence of QMJ’s bold new approach to staging The Natural Stone Show and Hard Surfaces is that it has reached out to Kick-Start Publishing, the company behind Tile & Stone Journal and The Specifier’s Guide, to forge a true media partnership.
As well as promoting the show through Kick-Start’s journals and on-line publications, QMJ has also asked TSJ’s Editor, Joe Simpson, to curate a day of talks and seminars exclusively devoted to ceramic tiles, porcelain tile, and sintered stone.
While this programme has yet to be officially announced, the series of six seminars promises to be highly engaging and visually stunning: spanning everything from traditional mosaics through to architectural applications for XXL format porcelain tiles up to 1,600 by 3,200mm and the current generation of bespoke sintered surfaces for high-end design application.
All in all, Wednesday 1st May is not to be missed.
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