Top Tile Trends from Cersaie

By Danielle De Vita, Novitá CommunicationsWith a whole world of architects, designers and specifiers searching for the hottest new products and trends, the 2008 edition of Cersaie, the international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings, did not disappoint. It is safe to say that the Italian tile industry scored big at this show. The following trends were highlighted:Sustainable Standouts—It’s Easy Being GreenIn line with the long list of Italian tile manufacturers that are regularly at the forefront of green design, this year’s most celebrated tile products are aesthetically appealing as well as environmentally friendly. Ergon Engineered Stone, a brand of Emilceramica whose revolutionary eco-collection “Green Tech” has been in high demand by distributors around the country, is expanding its sustainable offerings. In October, the company reintroduced its popular line “Mikado,” which is now being produced with recycled content. Similarly, Caesar, the first Italian company to obtain Eco-label certification, launched “Change,” a sleek new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-compliant series with a visually stimulating surface texture. Pastorelli, a subsidiary of Del Conca, debuted “Opera,” which is made using recycled content. Glass mosaic manufacturer Trend also has two new green collections: “Feel,” which is made of a minimum of 80 percent recycled glass, and “Trend Q,” which consists of up to 72 percent post-consumer recycled glass. In addition, the company launched a new Website,, which shows how glass bottles and containers can be repurposed to create luxurious tiles. Ceramiche Keope also took to the Web with a site of its own,, which serves as a testament to the company’s environmental commitment. Casalgrande Padana’s four new introductions, “Loft,” “Oxide,” “Maxima” and “Pietre Rare,” are the result of the company’s ongoing research into pioneering technologies that has enabled it to produce high-performance materials with a low impact on the environment, as testified by the ISO 14001 and EMAS certifications it has obtained.Rich Relationships—Designer/Manufacturer Duos Dominate the Tile SceneThe A&D community is not only specifying Italian tiles; it is also designing them. From Cersaie’s keynote seminar, which explored the essence of new Italian design in the field of ceramic tiles, to the growing number of architects and designers who are putting their names on tile collections, this trend is history in the making.Trend reports are intended to highlight the designs and initiatives that are brand-new to the market. But like an iconic find, some collections transcend decades. In 1982, Bruno Munari created two tile design projects for the Italian tile manufacturer Gabbianelli. These projects, “Tuttotondo” and “Tuttoquadro,” consisted of a series of abstract decorations inspired by circles and squares. Now, more than 25 years later, Gabbianelli is reintroducing these timeless 8″x8″ tiles to the world.  In an effort to celebrate the company’s rich history, Gabbianelli is also shedding light on its long-standing relationship with Italian designer Enzo Mari. Originally developed in 1979, Gabbianelli proudly presented the revised version of “Traccia” without any modifications other than the technical details dictated by the evolution of production systems.  Another company with deep ties to the A&D community is Bardelli. This year, it adds Italian architect Marcello Perenza to the impressive lineup. Italian tile producer Brix also has a laundry list of top architects, including Andrèè Putnam and Claudio Silverstrin, in its repertoire. Most recently, the company commissioned industrial designer Jean Marie Massaud to create a visionary new floor and wall collection.  Launching this year, “Daedalus” will offer tiles with a unique surface that is made with drops of glaze that are pressed and polished. In addition, DecoratoriStyle is continuing its relationship with Carlo Dal Bianco, resulting in the new “Gold” and “Grace” collections.From ongoing partnerships to new endeavors, the designer/manufacturer joint venture is a sure thing in this ever-changing market. Patricia Urquiola and Mutina launched a new porcelain stoneware collection called “Dèchirer.” It is a new initiative for Mutina and the first-time Urquiola has developed a line of ceramics. According to the artist, she was very interested in working on large-size formats, such as cement modules and unusual shapes such as hexagons. The tiles feature bas-reliefs of different heights with subtle patterns that evoke memories of the past and fittingly disappear in flat light. Another first is for DesignTaleStudio, the creative lab of Refin, who partnered with industry icon Karim Rashid on a new series called “R+Evolution.” Rashid’s signature panache and artistic flair shines through in the collection’s 11 wall decors and five brightly colored floor tiles. Supergres worked with emerging talents, designer Fabio Bortolani and architect Claudia Raimondo.  Bortolani’s “Figura” is a ceramic project with rectangular reliefs that create dimension while Raimondo’s “De-co” offers an infinite combination of uniform backdrops and decors featuring different forms and colors.High-Tech—The New FrontierAs always, technology took center stage.  Advances in the production process and new digital techniques are taking tile to new levels—in terms of size and surface imaging. Even grout is moving beyond traditional uses and playing a new role as a more decorative piece of the installation.  Large and in charge is the best way to describe this year’s harvest of oversized formats.  Casamood introduced a new line of porcelain stoneware called “thin neutra.”  The collection boasts tiles as large as 3m x 1m and as slim as 3.5mm in thickness.  The advantage to this innovative format is that it facilitates the installation process and allows the tiles to be laid over existing surfaces. Other notable new collections in this category include “Slimtech” from Lea, “Networks” from Impronta, and “Oxide,” “Sketch,” “Metropolis” and “Jungle” from Laminam. Finally, “Kerlite Twin,” a new innovation from Cotto D’Este is a highly resistant, double-layer slab that can stand up to high-traffic commercial applications. To create the durable product, the manufacturer sandwiched a layer of fiberglass between two 3.5mm pieces of porcelain stoneware.Digital technologies are driving the industry forward.  Ceramica Sant’Agostino has patented a digital system that allows them to produce non-repetitive patterns that extend from edge to edge with a perfect clearness, even on surfaces with strong relief. Its “Super Natural” collection is the first to be produced with this new production system. Lea’s “Biossenze” is produced with FULL HD technology, a system that transfers the design and texture of wood onto a ceramic surface using a machine that works like a digital printer but uses pigments and glaze stains specifically for ceramics. The same FULL HD technology was used to produce Lea’s “Storm” series.  Impronta uses a system called “Pro-Digit,” which utilizes Rotodigit technology to decorate different graphics and stone-like vein patterns. “Sicis,” a brand of mosaics best known for its hand-made artistic collections, is offering an equally spectacular surface created from a contemporary innovation of production line tools in the “PixALL Mosaic Collections.”  This new option allows the glass manufacturer to bring its murals to a whole new market of buyers. In terms of adhesives, industry-leader Mapei debuted four new grouting solutions, including Kerapoxy Design, a two-component, decorative, acid-resistant epoxy mortar for tile joints and glass mosaics that comes in eight different color options. Italian tile manufacturer, Brix, is now offering “BrixGrout+,” which comes in all the colors of the rainbow. Additionally, FAP has a line called “Tone-on-Tone” grouts. All-in-one architectural systems are a new convenience as manufacturers are offering coordinating tiles and grouts. Provenza’s “Level,”
a series of oversized porcelains featuring maps of large urban spaces such as Rome, New York, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Beijing and Sydney, includes epoxy adhesives that match the collection’s five colors. Geometry 201—Beyond the BasicsCircles and squares continue to take shape, but these days the new geometric forms come in the way of polygons, hourglass figures and geographic diagrams.  Cotto Veneto’s “Cerchi” takes on new contours, blending in a play of continuous geometry. Sichenia’s “Glamour” is lavishly decked out in a sea of circles. Edgier forms can be found in a number of collections, including Litokol’s “Night Vision” and Vogue’s “20×40.” Caesar and Mipa played with irregular squares and created patterns that mimic netting. Elongated rectangles and silhouetted shapes combine to make the profile of a cityscape in Marca Corona’s “Skyline.”  Mirage’s “Black and White” mixes layers of light and dark diamonds for an optical effect.  Hexagonal patterns and six-sided formats, such as Vietri Antico’s “Giochi d’Acqua–Liberty,” Ragno’s “Philosophy” and Etruria Design’s “Hex” also turned heads at the show. Viva’s “Bikini” and “Duplo” offer unusual shapes that fit together like a giant puzzle, while the structural features of Provenza’s “d’Oc” include a stunning droplet shape.Tactile Textures—There’s More to the SurfaceWith a heaping handful of manufacturers showcasing tantalizing textures, these highlights only scratch the surface.  To start, Lea experimented with materials such as linen, cotton and papyrus and imprinted these textures onto the surface of its new collection, “Makò,” topping each tile off with glazed stitching.  Ragno’s “Textile” is tactile, with porcelain pieces that are stratified, grid-like and sometimes three-dimensional. This decorative solution can also be found in Edilgres’s “Starlight,” which offers an extra-fine texture reminiscent of the weft of a fabric with surface options that are as light and colorful as cool cotton or as bright and sophisticated as silk. This fabric phenomenon influenced Keope’s “Wave” and Casa Dolce Casa’s “Cuoio,” which have velvety finishes and Marazzi’s “Straight,” which leans more toward satin, with a slightly ribbed structure. Leather and animal skins are among the other faux options. Rex drew on the overwhelming success of its “MaTouche” line to create a fine line of leather-inspired tiles called “Galuchat.” Ceramica Fioranese’s “My Skin” has decors that mimic zebra, leopard and cow prints. These decorative textures shared the spotlight with more architectural options. Topping the charts is Casamood’s “Nera,” which is made of lava extracted from the foot of Mt. Etna. Coem’s “Pietra Vicentina” has a rough-hewn surface with tiny fossilized shells set into the body of the porcelain tile. Floor Gres’s “Less,” part of its Integrated Architecture Project, has three surface options, including one that imitates the look and feel of rice paper, and a matte option that is extremely soft to the touch.Finally, there were those manufacturers that chose to add a whole new dimension to the surface. Marazzi’s “Paris” features four structures, two ribbed and two that recall quilted and boiserie finishes.  Piemme’s “Imperiale,” designed by Valentino, mimics the “capitonné” upholstery that emerged in France in the mid-19th century. This elegant quilted pattern, either true-to-form or done with a contemporary flair, popped up in many new Italian tile collections, including Senio’s “Velvet” and Fioranese’s “Extra Glam.” Ceramica Campani also pulled from the past with its introduction of “Mirror.”  The decors of this white body wall tile are reminiscent of antique and ornate mirrors. For a more modern aesthetic, FAP’s “Cupido” includes a tile strip that juts out from the surface, which takes wallcoverings to new heights. Kronos’s three-dimensional basket-weave looks so much like the real thing, it is hard to believe it’s made of porcelain.Whimsical Wallcoverings: Flowers & Trees Take RootTraditional wallpaper may have met its match.  At this year’s Cersaie show, fairgoers saw an elegant display of romantic florals and classic silhouettes done on hard surface ceramics and porcelains.  Designed in true Italian style, these tiles set a new standard for wallcovering. Sant’Agostino’s version of “Romance” featured elegant florals and classical wallpaper motifs similar to those found in historical mansions. Atlas Concorde’s color-rich series “Intensity,” serenely covered with artistic rose buds, is another example of this trend. The rose is also featured in DecoratoriStyle’s new series “Grace,” designed by Carlo Dal Bianco, as well as Novabell’s “Sunshine.” Dahlias, lilies, camellias and tulips, such as those available in Edilcuoghi’s new “Garden” series, are other sweet and sophisticated options for walls. Flowery silhouettes took shape on a number of different Italian tile collections and were presented in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. The modern botanicals in Naxos’ “Materia” are cast in subtle tone-on-tone hues of beige and gray or striking contrasts of black and white. Similarly, a garden of plants takes over the surface of Cedir’s “Chic,” while Coem’s leafy metallic overlays pop against the collection’s basalt background. Cir’s “Matile” mixes silhouetted foliage with detailed leaves in bas- relief. Viva’s “Chanson D’Amour” uses striking contrasts to make a statement. One option sets solid black branches against a rich, red beveled background. Settecento’s Indian Summer decor from the “Visionnaire” collection is reminiscent of Cole & Son’s popular Woods wallpaper but presents a style all its own.  The tall autumn trees are etched into the porcelain stoneware and colored in warm hues of purple and green. Finally, sophisticated stencil-like scrolls and more floral patterns graced the surface of Piemme’s “Diamond,” Atlas Concorde’s “Sublimage,” Alfa Lux’s “Iridium,” Gardenia Orchidea’s “Luminar,” Fabbrica del Vignola’s “Luminal” as well as FAP’s “Incanto” and “Oh” collections.Eastern Influences—Ancient Art Forms Abound Some say history repeats itself.  Nowadays, the design industry is seeing a resurgence of traditional Eastern art forms, fabrics and manual techniques. “Nadira,” “Samar” and “Syria,” three new introductions from Giovanni De Maio, are evidence of this tendency.  All three series, which were inspired by ancient techniques, replicate unmistakable art forms of the Middle and Far East. Piemme’s “Charme,” designed by fashion icon Valentino, features glittery motifs like those found in Islamic art. With its four arabesque patterns and rich hues, Gabbianelli’s hand-made “Cordoba” collection captures the beauty of faraway lands.  Also made by hand, Ce.Vi’s “Series Costiera” evokes the rich colors of this region and Maestri Maiolicari’s “Perle d’Oriente” accents emulate the precious fabrics of Damascus in five different variants. Oriental silks, Indian fabrics, embroideries from Indonesia and Burmese pieces in lacquered wood were used for inspiration for Emilceramica’s  “Satin” collection.Majestic Metallics—Gold Shines BrightlyThe metallic craze is still going strong, but this year the trend is toward gold.DecoratoriStyle’s “Gold Collection” is tailored towards those who love beautiful things and above-average performance. This luxury series sets Carlo Del Bianco’s two designs, “String” and ‘Grace,” in precious metal. Cottoveneto also boasts a ‘Gold Collection.” This one centers on a striking combination of modernity and tradition. Precious metals, such as 24-karat gold, silver and copper are freely matched in a variety of decorations and combinations. Also new and notable is a prototype from Tagina named “Doré.”  The collection is designed to recall the softness of Renaissance fabrics finely decorated with pure gold. ABK’s “Axolute” boasts a golden décor that looks like a piece of architectural artwork on the wall. Rich yellow bling is sure to catch the eye in Bardelli’s “Preziosa,” Ceramgres “Luxury,” Ker-Av’s “DecOro,” Ceramica Di Treviso’s
“Decori,” Cerim’s “Luxury” and Rex’s “Galuchat Oro.”These top trends and the myriad Italian innovations are sure to inspire architects, designers and consumers alike with fresh ideas and new design approaches.Click here for a slideshow of images that correspond with these trends.