Italy has long been known as one of the major fashion capitals of the world. So, it’s no surprise that bath designers from all over the world showed up to get the skinny on the hottest ceramic tile and bath furnishings trends at the 29th Cersaie event – considered to be the premier international exhibition of ceramic tiles and bathroom furnishings.
And “skinny” was an apt descriptor, as ultra-thin tile was one of the hottest trends evident at the Bologna Fairgrounds, along with eco-friendly choices, irregular shapes, a reinterpretation of terracotta, mixed materials, floral motifs and a sophisticated, dusty color palette.
A wide array of tile formats, colors, shapes and materials were on display at the trade show, held late last year, with nearly 1,000 exhibitors and some 81,000 visitors representing 31 countries in attendance.
The event, organized by Edi.Cer SpA and Promos and promoted by Ceramics of Italy in cooperation with BolognaFiere, was “applauded as being one of the first trade fairs outside the environmental sector to enforce stringent sustainability measures as part of ‘Cersaie for Sustainability,’” according to show organizers. They note that environmentally responsible design was “very noticeable in this year’s new collections, with more companies introducing slimmer tiles and using an increasing percentage of recycled content, while minimizing waste from the production process.”
According to Wayne Turett of the New York NY-based Turett Collaborative Architects, one of the notable trends he found at the show had to do with the thickness of tile on display. “I saw that they are making porcelain thinner,” he states, adding that he was especially taken with the tile coming out of Mutina.
“The best new trend that I saw was large-format, super-thin tile,” agrees Steve Justrich of the San Francisco, CA-based Justrich Design Inc. In fact, Justrich was so taken with this thinner tile, he decided to incorporate it into several projects.
He notes, “After returning from – and being inspired by – the Cersaie Bologna show, I clad a kitchen floor and countertop in Cotto d’Este’s Kerlite Buxy series 24"x48" porcelain ceramic tile. It has become my new standard for shower and steam shower ceilings installed flush with the adjacent plaster. This product helps me create innovative, current and fresh looking modern interiors,” he says.
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Ceramics of Italy noted several other hot trends that were evident at this year’s show, including the following:
• Dusty Colors
Trends in tile generally mirror larger design industry trends, and this was particularly evident in this season’s color palette. From blue grey and clay to mauve and lavender, dusty hues were seen throughout Cersaie. For example, the Lea Kensington collection offered a modern interpretation of the refined atmosphere of English homes, with a chromatic palette of warm grey, ivory, clay, jade and mauve. By contrast, Mutina’s new collaboration with Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec resulted in a line of porcelain tiles that maintain the raw aspect of traditional earth floors, offering a unique, earthy look.
• Terracotta, Revisited
Terracotta is the direct result of craftspeople working with their hands. Perhaps searching for that link to the past, many Italian companies showcased the warmth and charm of this ancient material and reintroduced it in modern sizes, colors and finishes. Cedir’s “Mediterraneo” tile in Cotto showcases the more traditional rust color, while Casa Dolce Casa’s Terra collection offers a more contemporary take, with shades of pearl, ash and graphite. A rustic/high-tech hybrid was seen in Cotto d’Este’s “Terre Estensi” line, in which inkjet technology is used to reproduce the look of terracotta with optional anti-bacterial properties.
Offering a nod to the trend toward personalization, Cersaie saw a host of unique offerings, from mismatched patterns to irregular shapes, suggesting that many designers are finding charm in imperfection. One such collection, created by Italian designer Massimiliano Adami for DesignTaleStudio, features cracks as a distinctive trait of the tile.
• Creative Recycling
The green trend remains strong in the tile market, with creative recycling a hot trend. From reintegrating manufacturing residues into the production process to using recycled glass from discarded TV screens and computer monitors, tile manufacturers continue to push the envelope with new environmentally friendly collections, many of which were seen at this year’s Cersaie. For instance, Mosaico+ uses a low-energy manufacturing process to create its “Area25” collection, which is made of 95% recycled glass. Likewise, Refin’s “Wood2” uses post-consumer recycled glass from obsolete cathode-ray tube TV sets. It also comes in an unusual square format (24"x 24" or 18"x18") that allows designers new creative opportunities.
• Concrete & Resin
When it comes to tile, tastes tend to run to opposite ends of the spectrum. This year, both the subtle texture and soft feel of resin and the rough, industrial touches of cement were highly visible at Cersaie, as Italian companies provided an array of tiles that featured both looks with the functionality and durability of ceramics.
• Mixed Materials
Thanks to improving digital technologies, companies are mixing and matching the look of natural elements from alabaster and marble to metal and wood – and everything in between.
• Ceramic Rugs
While tile has many wonderful qualities, some detractors suggest the hard surface can appear cold and uninviting. To address this concern, many tile companies are softening the look of ceramic floors by offering decorative tiles with bold and intricate patterns that mimic the look of area rugs, resulting in a warmer appearance.
• In Full Bloom
Flowers are back in style, with many tile manufacturers choosing to decorate their ceramics with a broad array of floral motifs.