(July 2010) This year, the biennial stone fair Carrara Marmotec celebrated its 30th anniversary. Several special events (*) were realized. Initiator was Giorgio Bianchini, president of the fair and of Internazionale Marmi e Macchine Carrara (IMM). BusinessStone.com (ssS) spoke with him about his visions for future stone fairs and for the stone industry.
ssS: You see a trade fair not only as a showroom for products but also as an event. Why?
Giorgio Bianchini: In former times, a fair was a place to do business after exchanging information about the availability of products, the prices and so on. Nowadays, modern communication systems allow us to make business without having met before. So a modern fair can’t remain a place only to do business. It also has to be a moment were people can increase their knowledge, can find new ideas, can sit together and develop strategies for the future of their branch.
ssS: What does this mean in respect of Carrara Marmotec?
Giorgio Bianchini: A focus of our efforts is to get the architects, the developers and the project managers as the decision makers in respect of construction materials to our fair. We show them the quarries and the workshops, where the Carrara marble comes from and where it is processed. In seminars and lectures we teach them how to use the material. At the same time, we foster the contact between the stone people.
ssS: Are architects as these target group at all interested in natural stone?
Giorgio Bianchini: This year, we had 947 architects and designers coming to our fair. 60 percent of them were from outside Italy. The construction sector is very interested in our material, but many architects are not sure how to properly use it.
ssS: How were the events financed?
Giorgio Bianchini: We devoted some of our budget to them. The main goal of the Carrara Marmotec is not to make the maximum profit but to promote our companies and our material, too.
ssS: Aren’t you afraid that stone producers from other regions in Italy or in the world might profit from your efforts?
Giorgio Bianchini: The real competitor of the Carrara marble is not another marble or a granite or another stone. Our competitor is ceramics and composite products. Logically, in our marketing we have to point out in how far our material is different from that artificial stuff. Our material is natural.
ssS: You bring new ideas into the fair. How about new ideas for the stone industry as such?
Giorgio Bianchini: At least the European stone industry definitely needs new ideas because it has to compete with the low cost countries in Asia. As to new ideas in our competition with the ceramic industry we need to do more and better marketing. There are only few stone companies who have realized how important it is to present oneself in a certain way.
ssS: What about new ideas in design?
Giorgio Bianchini: Design can bring the most important innovation. The goal of the stone industry must be to have the best architects and the best designers as its best friends. Their ideas can lead to a new era for the natural stone.
(*) Central part of this year’s programme with the title „Under a White Sky – Carrara Marmotec becomes an event” was a show with light, music and dance during three evenings at the main square of Carrara. The idea was to bring the international stone experts into the city that has such a long history in stone. Another event was an exhibition of the Italian architect Angelo Mangiarotti. The fair supported the edition of a book about his works. All in all, 5 exhibits with different topics where held at the fairground. Lectures took place in great numbers. At one such lecture, the architects Marco Piva, Luca Scacchetti, Claudio Silvestrin and Lorenzo Carmellini showed how they used marble in their works.
Dressed Stone Design Award (see separate article)
The complete programme can be found in the IMM-Newsletter (07)
Facts and figures
The financial situation for the Italian stone industry is tense but there were also some „positive signs“, as reported in the statistics of Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM) at this year’s trade fair. The upturn could be detected particularly relative to the USA, the traditionally most important target market for Italian stone.
2009 saw further negative growth in exports albeit with a tendency to levelling off: turnover was down by -19.35% in value and -10.12% in mass. Net turnover was 2,822,355 t of marble and granite valued at 392 million €. This includes all sectors from raw blocks to finished products but excluding gravel, chips and powders or other stone.
Statistics underscore that Italy is the foremost international exporter of high-end stone products to the USA. The average price for stone was calculated at 1,325 $ / t as compared to 776 $ for stone from India and 726 $ for Brazilian products. Nevertheless Brazil did outsell Italy and India by mass.
Exports of machinery from Italy was also down sharply -31.5% (= 312 million €) Egypt was last year’s most important market taking 23 million € worth and overtaking India which hat purchased 29 million € worth the previous year.