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HomeFeatured ArticlesEverything to know before attending the Natural Stone Show

Everything to know before attending the Natural Stone Show

The joint Natural Stone Show and Hard Surfaces Exhibition is taking place at the London ExCel centre in just a few short weeks, from June 6-8. Here, the organisers have put together a full guide to the show’s conference programme, so you can plan your trip around its halls effectively.

Joe Simpson, the respected Natural Stone Specialist columnist, founder of the “Diary Of a Tile Addict” blog, and of course, former editor of this very magazine, has curated the seminar programme at Hard Surfaces.

11:00 -12:00
Floor tile design trends

In this seminar, Canadian tile guru Ryan Fasan explores and explains global floor tile design trends for 2023/24. This session features a brief introduction from Simpson before a presentation on “Pattern, profile, and patina” from Fasan, which promises to “drill deep” on contemporary trends world-wide.
Following this speech, Fasan and Simpson will host a 15 minute Q&A session to answer visitors’ technical and aesthetic floor tile questions.

13:00 – 14:00
Decoration & detail

The day’s second session will cover how digital inkjet and advanced decorating technologies have reinvigorated the market for both traditional artisan tiles, and commercial ceramics. It will also look at the emerging market for short-run bespoke tiles and panels: and the enduring appeal of dynamic glaze effects.

This section will also feature an intro from Joe Simpson, followed by three 15-minute presentations from Cesar Carnicer, commercial director at Cevica, and Sean Kennard, sales manager for Atlas Concorde and Peter Wood, CEO of Royce Wood Tiles. Their talks will cover bespoke short-run tiles, colour consistency and “glaze alchemy” respectively. This session will also end with a brief Q&A around tile decoration.

The future of façades

This slot will look at the exponential rise of ventilated ceramic façades: stone-, metallic-, concrete-, and timber effects. Presenters will talk about how designers and façade specialists are using different textures, framing options, and tile formats to meet the needs of modern architecture.

After the introduction, Nic Shannon, managing director of Domus Facades will speak about “sublime surface skins” before Noam Naveh, CEO of Stylib, discusses how his London-based technology start-up aims to “reshape the core specification pipeline for ventilated façades and other key construction components”. A 10 minute Q&A will follow.

11:00 – 12:00
Wall tile design trends

In this session, Tile of Spain’s Canadian Consultant, Ryan Fasan, returns to highlight the latest world-wide design directions and fashion formats in wall tiles.

In his “Sinking inks and reactive glazes” presentation, Fasan, who heads up Tile of Spain’s influential Passport to Creativity tours, draws on his industry knowledge to present the latest global trends in wall tile design. Following this, Fasan and Joe Simpson will once again host a Q&A to answer audience questions concerning wall tiles.

13:00 – 14:00
Large – format installation insights

For the early afternoon session, visitors will learn all you need to know about handling and installing XXL format tiles, including levelling systems, dry cutting versus wet cutting, and the latest site handling tools and systems.

This section will see David Honeywell, commercial director of Rubi UK, discuss cutting and levelling systems for XXL format tiles, before Brevetti Montolit’s UK brand manager, Jason Smith, talks about secure site handling and installation techniques for XXL format tiles. The two presenters, along with Joe Simpson, will then host a panel discussion about site safety, installation options, cutting and finishing for XXL tiles and gauged porcelain panels.

Exterior elements

This session will explore the growing market for 20mm and 30mm outdoor porcelain tiles, including dry, pedestal, and adhesive laying systems, as well as the latest patterns and decorative options. Key factors – such as frost- and slip-resistance, sealing, and routine maintenance – will all be covered.

Eric Garcia Millan, area manager for Rocersa will present on “Inside-Out living,” discussing how, in 2023, the garden has become part of the home. Richard Bowman, founder of Intertile Research, will demystify the science of slip testing and surface treatments in his “Slip resistance simplified” presentation. Finally in this extra-long session, Bestile’s UK agent, Ruben River, will compare 20mm tile formats, discussing the differences between rectified and non-rectified products.

For the last 10 minutes, the three presenters and Joe Simpson will answer any questions about testing, selecting and installing 20mm exterior porcelain tiles.

11:00 -12:00
Design trends in exterior tiles and solid surfaces

Ryan Fasan, one of the acknowledged fashion forecasters in the global tile arena, completes his trilogy of analytical talks by focusing on exterior tiling and solid surface trends for 2023/24. In this presentation, titled: “Digital deposition and vibrant veins,” Fasan explains how advanced production techniques have added new depth and detail to today’s exterior tiles and solid surfaces.
After this presentation, Fasan and Joe Simpson will once again answer technical and aesthetic queries concerning exterior tiles and solid surfaces.

Environmental edge

This session offers detailed analysis of tile’s green credentials, covering water reuse, embodied energy, co-generation, recycled content, raw material sourcing, transport, logistics, installation, durability, maintenance, and end-of-life options.

Following Joe Simpson’s introduction, the Italian tile manufacturers’ trade association, Confindustria Ceramica, will set out the ecological initiatives and investments set 4 to drive and define Italian tile production for the next decade. The association’s climate & sustainability officer, Mauro Rullo, will deliver this presentation.

In the second half of this session, Domus’s David Kong, The Tile Association’s lead on sustainability issues, explains the TTA’s drive to add real substance and verifiable statistics to the UK’s environmental debate.

This section will also end with a panel discussion between Mauro Rullo, David Kong, and Joe Simpson to answer your questions about LCAs, green labelling, and the sustainability credentials of ceramic and porcelain tiles.

Sustainable specifications

The concluding session investigates and evaluates the sustainability pathways of one of Italy’s most respected tile groups, and a Spanish pacesetter in surface finishes and façades, plus a start-up that places care for the planet at the very heart of its business model.

Laurens Van Graafeiland, CEO of Sustonable, will discuss the company and “the evolution of a new sector-leading sustainable material”. Following this, Emilio Mudrak, the UK agent for Iris Ceramica Group, and Aaron Capon, façades manager at Cosentino, will present “Going green and still growing” and “Façades for a brighter future” respectively.

Closing the seminar programme, Joe Simpson will join these presenters for a panel to address questions about green washing, environmental standards, embodied energy, raw materials, and renewables in an era of heightened awareness of construction’s ecological impact.

A full list of exhibitors at the show, as well as other curated visitor features, can be found on the event’s website, listed below, but we hope this brief guide has provided any prospective visitors with the information to plan an effective itinerary!

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