Reign in Spain: What Did We Gain?

By Scott Knudson, Vice President of Design, Wiencek + Associates Architects + Planners

Eleven days abroad in Spain seems reward enough to justify entering next year’s Reign In Spain competition, if for some reason you are on the fence. (Yet like anything ceramic, the true rewards linger longer.) For those of you that have been following these blogs, or have been tracing the tweets or other postings, you know our potpourri of relative strangers formed from the pre-dawn sky above Madrid. Team USA, as Patti Fasan calls us, boarded the bus for Cevisama along with the Italian, Russian, and other delegations in our mutual quest to learn and do more about quality products.

Here is a brief synopsis of my own takeaways:

1) I was stunned by the scale of the Cevisama show! There were so many booths that I still don’t know how much I didn’t get to see. The spectrum of contemporary, top-quality material, tending toward truly perfect imitations of every type of stone and wood, set the stage for the stars of the show. These include Roca Tile’s Green City Collection (shown above,a semi-glazed porcelain that lets the color of the body clay show through with atomized coatings adding visual texture), D’Olivaterra (your go-to folks for custom applications, such as brise soleil), and Grespania’s 1 by 3 meter tiles (which are only 3mm thick and look gorgeous).

* The USA is only about 3 percent of the global tile market, so many products we saw are produced for other markets, too. Only recently has our own image in the international tile circles started to move beyond beige, cream, and tan. Our factory tour of Keraben (image above) added to the depth of understanding of the opportunities afforded by ceramics.

* Our travel group thrived on dissecting Santiago Calatrava’s work by day and by night. The architectural lineage from Mudejar to Modernisme, and = from Gaudi to Calatrava, is striking. Just in case one misses it, Calatrava has used, white trencadis tiles at the Arts & Sciences pools, as Gaudi did on the water towers above Casa Mila.

Whether it was the mojo of the selection process, the warmup of the tours and feasts, the fabulous seminars by Patti and Ryan Fasan, or the warm hospitality of our hosts, each of us on the Reign in Spain trip revels as we recall the light-hearted frivolity coupled with mutual respect and interests. We have have forged relationships of depth through our travels and learning, and the anticipated content of the trip has been supplanted by social substance.

Scott Knudson is vice president of design at Wiencek + Associates Architects + Planners, creating sustainable designs that reinvigorate communities. Knudson (@scottdqknudson) was selected by Tile of Spain in December 2010 as a Reign in Spain finalist. From Feb. 4-12, 2011, he will join a group of journalists and other members of the A&D community in a junket that will travel to the cities of Zaragoza, Teruel, and Valencia, taking in Spanish architecture, culture, culinary temptations, and Cevisama, the International Ceramic Tile and Bath Furnishings Show.