At the end of September, thousands of visitors – including a record number of international attendees – descended upon Bologna to see the latest designs and technical innovations from ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings manufacturers from around the world. The 30th edition of Cersaie served up a visual feast of pattern and color with geometric graphics, intentionally random patterns, and encaustic-inspired tiles filling the aisles. In terms of shapes, hexagons, squares and planks were popular while super slim (3-4mm) and thick (20mm) were also in. LEED-compliant and Ecolabel certified tiles were on the rise in addition to new sustainable initiatives such as antibacterial, anti-pollution and self-cleaning ceramics.
Mix & Match
Giving designers an opportunity for increased self-expression and creative freedom, many companies introduced patchwork tiles and compositions of varying color, size and material in one collection.
“Minoo” is Marcel Wander’s third decorative tile collection for Bardelli that was intentionally designed for patchwork. The ornate 8”x8” porcelain floor tiles are available in five silkscreen patterns reminiscent of Persian rugs and a range of four neutral and rich colors.The company also launched two new lines by Davide Pizzigoni designed to be mixed and matched. “Orchestra” is a set of 15 4”x4” glossy white wall tiles, each with a different musical instrument, while “Ventagli” features a colorful array of fans on 16”x16” glossy white wall tiles.
For Mosaico+, renowned mosaic artist (and former creative director of Bisazza), Carlo Dal Bianco, used mosaics from the company’s various lines to create a series of new decorations. For “Lacquer” and Inlay”, he used iridescent mosaics from the Perle collection and square glass chips from Concerto to invoke ancient Chinese dynasties. Also of note is “Cloud” designed by Aki Motoyama for Brix, consisting of square tiles in five different sizes that appear to float on the surface.
Casamood offers a rich palette of mixable colors and surfaces with “Materia Project.” Inspired by everything from rough cement walls to irregular panes of glass, the collection features eight colors and six surfaces with matching grout that can be coordinated or mixed and matched. Provenza “Inessence” looks like a collection of different recycled materials from recycled oak to a stone-cement mix while Fioranese “Blend” melds the look of concrete, colored wood and even cardboard. Viva “Statale 9” also offers a full package of urban looks – from square tiles that look like stone-cement to ceramic planks inspired by water stained and stripped wood. In addition, Ariana “Convivium” is freely inspired by different natural surfaces from the timeworn artisanal appeal of terracotta to the modern character of concrete.
In terms of stone looks, Cerdisa “Archistone”, Ceramiche Campogalliano “Rox” and Floor Gres “Floortech 1.0” offer a wide range of stones to choose from. LaFaenzaCeramica “Pretiosa” is a glazed porcelain tile collection featuring a mix of natural stone looks tied together by a single chromatic range while the design of Marca Corona’s “Planet” tiles are inspired by a mixture of stones. With “Stonebox”, Emilceramica gives designers two options to choose from: 36 different types of marbles and natural stones (“Stonebox Concept”) or 40 different graphic variations of the grey tau stone (“Stonebox Basic”). Ergon goes a step further by presenting both sides of the cut stone in one collection. “Back2Back” features both the rich and elegant front side and the rough and minimal backside, available in three colors and three formats.
For a mixed color palette, Ceramica Sant’Agostino’s“Abita” collection of 8”x24” white body wall tiles are available in a diamond effect version in three chromatic mixes of beige, lilla and menta. Ceramica Vogue alsolaunched two innovative collections focused on color: “Transparenze Mix” with a glossy surface and 17 color options; and “Interni Mix”, available in a range of 21 colors, each containing a random patchwork of three shades of color.
To create a mixed wood effect, Impronta’s “Listone D” collection comes in an 18”x36” Patchwork module. Meanwhile, Emilceramica uses HD technology to transform photographs of 50 fossilized wood blocks into the “Petrified Tree” collection. “Bark” reproduces the bark of fossilized wood with a rough-hewn, anti-slip finish while “Core” (in a natural or polished finish) reinterprets the petrified core of wood.
Industry First: Philippe Starck plays with the idea of joints for his first-ever ceramic tile collection for the Italian manufacturer Ceramica Sant’Agostino. The joint, which is typically minimalized or hidden entirely, becomes a central feature and decorative modular element for “Flexible Architecture.” It can be specified on one to four sides of the tile or on no sides at all to create an endless array of architectural compositions. A variety of thicknesses (7mm and 12mm), surfaces (matte and glossy) and colors (white, yellow, grey and greige) also add to the product’s flexibility.
Antibacterial & Self-Cleaning
Ceramic tile is naturally hygienic and contains no VOCs that release gas prior to, during, or after installation. On top of that, Italian manufacturers continue to innovate and partner with biotech companies to offer products that actively contribute to a person’s health. Demonstrating this trend was the presence of many antibacterial, antipollution and self-cleaning ceramics at the show.
Fincibec announced the launch of “Antibact” – a proprietary antibacterial technology that significantly enhances the sanitizing effects during cleaning and does not require sunlight to be activated. “Technica” by Century is the first tile collection from the Fincibec Group that features this technology. The LEED-compliant porcelain tiles are available in six colors, three modular rectified formats and four different finishes.
As part of the company’s “CaesarTech” division focused on innovative solutions for the building industry, Ceramiche Caesar introduced a new triple-action antibacterial treatment for its ceramic tiles called “Care24”. It can be used on outdoor walls and floors and for various indoor uses. Meanwhile, Refin announced that its “Cromie” collection is now available with a special Ecosan24 treatment. Using titanium dioxide charged with active metallic elements, the tiles are anti-polluting, self-cleaning on ventilated wall facades, and sanitizing even without light.
Mirage launched a new tile collection especially useful for the residential sector that provides “zero maintenance decking.” Treated with a special Hy-Pro24 process, the 24”x24”x¾” porcelain “Sundeck” tiles have antibacterial and antipollution properties equal to a medium-sized tree for every square meter of tile. Panaria, Lea Ceramiche and Cotto d’Este, all part of the Panaria Group, also offer antibacterial floor and wall tiles for residential and commercial applications.
Industry First: Casalgrande Padana unveiled “Bios Self Cleaning Ceramics” that uses HYDROTECT technology from the Japanese brand, TOTO, to create self-cleaning, anti-bacterial and pollution-reducing tiles. The HYDROTECT coating contains two active agents: titanium dioxide, which is photo-catalytic; and a well-balanced formulation of metals that offer antibacterial and antivirus properties. The technology is especially useful for exterior cladding and can be applied to all Casalgrande Padana products.
Encaustic & Majolica Looks
Square ceramic tiles with bold, solid colors and mesmerizing patterns could be seen in every corner of the show. Some companies introduced traditional majolica motifs in new blown-out sizes and patchwork effects while others were inspired by vintage encaustic tiles with a timeworn appearance. In either case, Italian companies are using high-tech printing to put a contemporary spin on a handcrafted process, invoking the character and old world charm of these historic tiles.
One of the collections that embody this trend is “Azulej” – the latest porcelain tiles designed by Patricia Urquiola for Mutina. Inspired by ancient handcrafted majolica made of hydraulic cement, the 8”x8” glazed porcelain tiles are available in three neutral base colors (white, light grey and dark grey) in a choice of nine patterns or as a combination of 27 different designs. The result is a deliberately random patchwork of tiles for floors and walls, both indoors and out. Another avant-garde example is the Majolica pattern of Refin’s “Frame” collection. Designed by graphic design firm Studio FM, the large 30”x30” square tiles feature traditional decors from majolica tiles of the 19th and 20th centuries but presented in a more graphic light.
Fap Ceramiche also offers a colorful Maiolica décor as part of its “Base” collection while Ceramiche Supergres completes its “Smart Town” line of porcelain tiles with a Marmette décor. Viva’s“Statale 9” Pittura tiles and a few of ImolaCeramica’s “Habitat” decors look like decorative cement tiles while “Docks Combi” by ABK features a patchwork composition of 16 8”x8” tiles with an encaustic look. Similarly, “Amarcord” by Ceramica Faetano is a collection of 8”x8” ceramic tiles that reinterprets antique encaustic floors with an invigorating mix of 12 patterns in various shades of white, brown and blue. “Vintage” by Cerim, “Cotto Vogue” by Cir and “Concept” by Ragno are a few other collections featuring this unique look.
As the market moves towards longer slabs, tile companies are responding with a range of plank-sized tiles – some as long as six feet! Though wood is still a popular design choice, manufacturers are also offering these new plank sizes with their stone and concrete inspired collections as well.
“Sunrock” by Atlas Concorde, a doppelganger for Travertine, is available in a range of formats including 6”x36” and 9”x36” while Coem’s “Pietra del Friuli”, inspired by stones found in the northeast of Italy, also comes in a 6”x36” plank size. ImolaCeramica’s“Vein” collection, that looks like vein-cut or cross-cut marble, is also offered in a trendy 6”x36” plank size.
ABK “Soleras” is a collection of porcelain tiles inspired by the wooden staves from barrels used for “Criaderas y Soleras” – a technique for aging prestigious wines and spirits such as sherry, madeira and brandy. With a beautiful patina, the tiles are available in two plank sizes with a hand-planed appearance. Other porcelain planks with a hand-planed effect include: “Root” by Ceramiche Caesar; “Planks” by Ascot; “Silvis” by Cotto d’Este; and “AllWays” by Mirage.
For Roberto Cavalli’s newest collection for Ricchetti, he reinterpreted the wood planks from his Florentine home into a series of 39” long porcelain tiles in six different wood looks. “Nuances” from Fap Ceramiche is also offered in a range of six wood designs and is the first time the company is producing a porcelain tile collection intended for floors and walls.
Lea Ceramiche uses sophisticated digital printing techniques to reproduce the knots and grain of various woods for its new “Bio Plank”collection. Available as 48” long (and 6” or 8” wide) planks, the tiles are available with antibacterial protection for indoor environments and a special anti-slip deck finish for outdoors. “Atelier” by Marca Corona, “Newood” by Casalgrande Padana and “Plank” by LeonardoCeramica are a few other plank sized tiles that come in a special grip finish for outdoor installations.
Lighter-colored wood such as oak was another popular trend at Cersaie and served as the basis of many ceramic plank collections. Ceramiche Caesar “Wabi” is inspired by oak and offered in three 48” long plank sizes with a matte, textured, or saw-cut finish. Refin “Trail” also recalls the look of oak in eight shades and comes in plank sizes as long as five feet. “Tree” by Ceramica Sant’Agostino and “Signum” by Coem are other collections featuring an elegant oak option.
Additional tile collections offered in plank sizes include: “Vintage” by Settecento; “Seasons” by Serenissima; “Mywood” by Cisa Ceramiche; “Cottage Wood” by Fioranese; “Listone D” by Impronta; “Woodstyle” by Ragno; “Treverkatelier” by Marazzi; “Echo” by Monocibec; and “La Premiere” by Ceramiche Supergres.
Industry First: Floor Gres and Rex introduced impressive six-foot long ceramic planks with the formwork cement-inspired “Reverse” and oak-inspired “Selection Oak” collections, respectively.
The influence of fashion on the world of interiors could be seen in this year’s influx of tactile collections. From the femininity of lace to the luxurious sheen of silk, many ceramic tile manufacturers launched new collections inspired by the texture or appearance of a variety of fabrics.
Raw Edge’s second collection for Mutina called “Tex” is a rich, three-dimensional and multi-colored collection of 4.5”x8” rhombus-shaped glazed porcelain tiles. Each of the eight available colors is made up of three shades and a range of textures taken from textiles that are randomly mixed. “I Tessuti” is another designer collection, created by Elena Strafella for Cottoveneto, which features an interesting fabric-inspired composition of micromosaics. The range of decors includes: Scottish; Tweed; Shantung; Tartan; and Twill.
From the pizzo décor of Cerdisa’s “Archistone” tiles to the new “Décor Lace Flowers” composition from Mosaico+, lace is still a fashionable muse for designers. Novabell also pays homage to the material with its “Rainbow” and “Ravello” white body ceramic wall tiles while the Canapa décor of its new “Energy” collection is an interesting rendition of a 1970s textile print.
Other fabric-inspired products getting rave reviews include Marazzi’s “Silkstone” line whose decorative ceramic wall tiles are inspired by Indian saris, Japanese kimonos, tulle and silk and the knit pattern of “Studies in Gouache” by Lea Ceramiche whose repetitive weave is intoxicating. In addition, Fap Ceramiche’s “Supernatural” Charme décor recalls the look of quilted fabrics, creating elegant and luxurious surfaces.
Installation Made Easy
From 2cm thick porcelain tiles to clip systems and quick laying floors, Italian companies offer a variety of products that make the installation process easier than ever. Monolithic porcelain slabs were especially popular at this year’s show with a large number of tile producers adding a 20mm option to their collections. Twice as thick as most tiles, they have the same benefits as regular porcelain tiles but with an incredibly high breakage load (up to 2,000 pounds) and can be dry laid on grass, gravel, dirt, and cement without grout or adhesives.
One of the first companies to introduce ¾” thick porcelain tiles with its Compact 20 range, Tagina now offers five tile collections in this monolithic size. Novabell’s “Avant” collection is also available in a heavy-duty 20mm paving version in a 24”x24” format and special R12 anti-slip finish while Ceramiche Keope’s “Pecorsi SMART” tiles are available in five stone looks and a 24”x24”x¾” size. Available in large modular formats, Pastorelli’s new “Quartz Design” series is 2cm thick and features the same sparkling reflections as quartz flecks. “Sunrock” from Atlas Concorde, based on the look of Travertine stone, is the newest addition to the company’s “Lastra 20mm” line while Marca Corona “Stone Line” and Cerdisa “T20 Project” are both available in a 2cm thickness and grip finish for outdoors.
In addition to monolithic porcelain slabs that look like stone, Mirage offers two wood-look collections – “AllWays” and “Sundeck” – that come in a 2cm outdoor version while Floor Gres’ new cement-inspired “Industrial” line is available in three thicknesses including a 20mm bush hammered edition.
Offering another veritable revolution for the building and construction industry, “Del Conca Fast” is a new, patented system for quick laying ceramic floors. Suitable for residential and light commercial projects, the system creates a new floor in a matter of hours without joints, adhesives or grout. It is currently available with Del Conca’s “Monte Napoleone” collection that mimics wood in two planks sizes (6”x48” and 8”x48”) and four colors.
For tiles that do require grout, MAPEI introduced a revolutionary new epoxy grout that makes installation cleanup trouble-free. Available in eight colors, “Kerapoxy CQ” contains quartz that makes it easier for installers to remove grout from the surface of tile during application. Another timesaving product from the company is “Mapesonic 2.” The patent-pending design for the sound-reduction and crack-isolation sheet membrane is lighter and thinner and allows installers to just prime, peel and stick before installing the tile.
Industry First: Searching for new ways to solve installation problems, Trend introduced a prototype of a new quick laying system called “Clip To Go.” Part of the company’s “Advanced Rapid System”, it features glass tiles preinstalled onto a dense foam support, which provides insulation, sound proofing and water proofing. “Smart To Go” is a similar product from the company specifically made for mosaics.
Super thin tiles and giant slabs are two innovations pioneered by Italian manufacturers whose popularity continues to grow. While thin tile provides a versatile covering solution for nearly every surface, large format tiles are typically easier to maintain and allow designers to concentrate on the lines and flow of a space.
The newest addition to Cotto d’Este’s super thin (3mm) and large (1mx3m) Kerlite series, “Exedra” offers six types of marble looks and three finishes (natural, soft and lux). Because Kerlite is durable, light, and easy to cut, the thin tiles can also be used for kitchen counter tops, basins, doors and other furnishings. Similarly, “Lightquarz” is the fourth collection of large and super thin laminated porcelain stoneware tiles from Panaria that are extremely versatile. Part of the company’s ZER0.3 line, the 3mm tiles can be used for an infinite number of custom solutions for the bathroom, kitchen, living room and dining room.
“Micron 2.0” by ImolaCeramica is a new series of full body porcelain tiles up to 4’x4’ in a palette of eight colors and three finishes (natural, polished and bush-hammered). “Gli Alabastri di Rex” by Rex is inspired by alabaster, with its natural luxury and symmetrical geometries, and is available in large 31.5”x71” slabs. Also from the Florim Group, “Industrial” by Floor Gres reinterprets cement in porcelain slabs as large as 1.2m x 3m.
Industry First: “Studies in Gouache” – the latest innovative product designed by Diego Grandi for Lea Ceramiche – is the first slim tile with a contemporary bas-relief design. The four decors (grid, scratch, weave and moire b) feature geometric and abstract patterns engraved and sanded into the 3mm tiles. They are offered in the same chromatic range as the company’s “Gouache.10” collection.