NUREMBERG, Germany – In all the years I’ve attended Stone+tec, I thought I’d seen it all when watching a woman play a white violin amid a selection of tombstones. Or, having a couple of carvers finish up a sandstone replica of a Wartburg, the automotive symbol of the German Democratic Republic.
This morning, however, I thought I really did see it all – as in a nude woman attempting to leap out of a slab of marble.
Held in odd-numbered years, Stone+tec offers a trade show in a central European location that draws a good crowd from Germany and neighboring countries. While the event features plenty of German products – mainly in machinery and software – the focus is on international trade, making the show an interesting barometer for stone’s performance.
In that context, Stone+tec showed some definite improvement from a few years ago, with a livelier opening-day crowd. Most of the halls had brisk traffic, with none of the empty, bowling-alley feel of aisles in mid-recession 2009.
The most-intense action seemed to be from the exhibit halls featuring stone technology and tooling. The areas weren’t as massive and machine-strewn as in 2005 or 2007, but you could hear a strong background buzz of noise, which usually indicates that most booths feature more customers than exhibitor staff.
Two areas with a bit less interest than usual seemed to be the monument section – Stone+tec’s always been strong in this – and the mini-hall dedicated to Chinese vendors. Traffic around the booths dedicated to monuments seemed lighter than in years past, and the China aisles looked empty. (Chinese vendors didn’t bring as much large hardware, as in bridge saws and calibrating machines, as in years past, either.)
More and more attendees throughout the day made it a point to wander through Hall 4 to find Antolini Luigi & C. S.p.A.’s spacious stand, which featured the company’s large assortment of exotic and premium stones. The company also likes to make a statement with its trade-show exhibits in the past, including a booth at Coverings designed like a private club (replete with a velvet rope and bouncers) and a fashion show at Verona’s Marmomacc with models clad in bikinis printed to look like featured stone varieties.
The booth for Stone+tec features three large walls of Antolini Luigi’s premium stone … along with one or two models, with intricate body-painting to emulate the particular stone’s veining and movement. The models offer a number of interpretive poses, and the message is all very artistic.
It’s also a real eye-opener after trudging through aisles of the usual trade-show displays.
Antolini Luigi never fails to get attention at trade shows, and they certainly held plenty of European stone guys rapt for a few minutes.
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