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.

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