Stone+tec/Notes from Nuremberg

Random observations from Germany and its big stone show last month:

• It’s way too easy to say that a show’s gone to the dogs, but Stone+tec allows the four-legged friends of fabricators to attend the show. And we’re not talking service dogs, either – just plain ol’ dogs on leashes. Most of the canine attendees ran to small terriers and just plain mutts (I didn’t see a German shepherd in the lot) and all were well-behaved; no tinkling on the travertine here.

• Stone+tec also allowed children in the expo areas. None were on leashes, but all of them took their lead from the dogs and remained well-behaved. Some of them took to the hall in two-wheel scooters, but Stone+tec’s wide, uncarpeted aisles kept them from any unfortunate run-ins with other attendees. To their credit, show exhibitors kept the kids and dogs out of the official attendee count.

• Youth was also served with a large demonstration area in one hall, where stone-trade apprentices hand-chiseled designs and lettering into stone. All of them remained remarkably composed and task-oriented as hundreds of attendees crowded around individual apprentices to watch them tapping out some permanent text messages, including umlauts. It also wasn’t just for show; master carvers kept close watch and offered critiques on a regular basis.

• Here’s a suggestion for U.S. trade-show exhibitors: music. No, not some boom-box fanfare or cheesy sales jingle, but some light melodies to entertain and attract attendees. Stone supplier Rossittis GmbH set up a pure white grand piano, where a musician offered up show tunes and other light fare. Music’s always a part of memorial maker Holland Granit’s stand; a concert violinist played classical music in 2007. The company possibly took a cue from the slower economy this year, and offered a smaller exhibit area and an accordion player.

Ytterstad Vertriebs GmbH provided the real attention-getter of the show with a 1:1-scale sandstone carving of the eternal East German symbol – a sub-compact Trabant, noted by Time as, “the car that gave Communism a bad name.”  This, of course, opens up the field to at least one Trabant joke.

Q: Why is the rear-window defogger the most-popular feature of the Trabant?

A: It keeps the driver’s hands warm as he pushes it to the garage.

• This year’s press digs moved to new lodging with Motel One, a growing chain of budget luxury hotels in Germany. It offered something of a hybrid between Ian Schrager and Motel 6, with a heavy tilt to Tom Bodette. Nothing especially fancy like closets or fancy toiletries, but it’s a comfortable room. And they didn’t skimp on stone, with a simple-but-smart 2cm nordic-black granite vanity top. Another 2cm piece formed a solid side support, and another large piece lined the shower. Here’s a picture from TripAdvisor (where Motel One received the #1 rating for Nuremberg).

• This month’s Spall column offers a cryptic reference to “German TV afternoon court dramas.” You can find several of these, but my favorite is Richter Alexander Hold, where a rather hunky magistrate holds sway over a court hearing cases involving teenage runaways and delinquents (a favorite theme), unfriendly neighborhood drug dealers and the occasional homicide. I don’t understand a word of it, but it’s broadly acted to include entertaining caricatures of worried parents, stern prosecutors, insouciant bad boys and a never-ending supply of teenage town tramps. One memorable episode featured an elderly witness having a heart attack on the stand, and Hold jumped from his desk to offer life-saving CPR. Let’s see Judge Judy top that one.

One other note: it’s been a busy six weeks of travel, trade shows and production deadlines, and the blog fell by the wayside. My apologies, and I’ll do better in the months ahead.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at www.stonebusiness.net, where you can also find this blog at the Main Menu under the clever title of “Editor’s Blog.”

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