Tile Trends -- Fall/Winter 2003
Color - Bold and Beautiful
Stylized geometric and optical interpretations were combined with eye-catching colors, creating stand-out retro looks. While bold color predominated, many manufacturers showed a toned-down palette of warm browns and blues.
An interesting take on color was Ceramiche Musa's intricate black on black pattern, with matte and gloss surfaces creating high contrast. Ceramica Pinto presented their Mediterranian interpretation of a colorful ethnic rug, while Bardelli's Ultime Notizie brings us the "latest news" with Italian design icon Fornasetti's quirky combination of colorful butterflies against a pattern of black & white newspaper clippings. Cotto Veneto showed Ninfee a pop-art take on the water lily, Kronos' Immagine featured tonal and textural stripes in vivid blues, while Marca Corona launched Game, a collection of confetti-like tiles paired with textural brights and Energy. Lea showed Bar Code and Fractal, new textural patterns for their popular Progetto 14, while SAICIS presented the vivid Bigolo, an eye-popping glossy series. Other color-forward notables were Fap's Vision, Art Color Dripping, Maestri Majolicari Chroma, Emilceramica Laccam, Cogir Glass Anni 70 and Viva Sucre.
Sparkling Surfaces/Textural Treasures
Already recognized as highly versatile, ceramic tiles were cleverly combined with platinum, steel, glass, aluminium and wood. These materials were either incorporated directly into the tiles or are used as inserts or trims creating iridescent and shimmering effects. SAICIS's Pingo Pallino is a glittering field of textured copper disks set off by iridescent grout, while STUDIO EFFE's Cashmire blends texture and metallics in a new, luxurious way.
The Italians experimented with finishes, showing satin and matte finishes alongside glossy surfaces. While many tiles had textural surfaces inspired by nature, other tiles had milky-glass surfaces that encased colorful motifs and three-dimensional textures. FAP's Visions shows stylized flowers - some in low relief - against a milky white background, while MARCA CORONA mixed solid brights with decorative milk-glass like strips.
Earthy Porcelain Shades
Many manufacturers at Cersaie showed coal grey slate looks and deep browns and blacks. Some were accented with Asian motifs, such as EMILCERAMICA's Liegi Weng and with rich blue accents, such as CERDOMUS' Novità and CERAMICA DI SIENA's Ardesia Nero. Still others were richly textured; PROVENZA's Avallone brings subtle texture to a matte black, while CERAMICA VIVA's finds earth-tone sophistication in Xilo. BRIX's Degre 004 two-tone stripe lends stunning visual interest to floor applications. Examples included: Cerdomus, Ceramica Di Siena Arabesca and Ardesia Nero, Gruppo Majorca Amarcord and Uti & Inni. Atlas Concorde presented Trekking a new rustic porcelain series accented with cut-out half-moon metallic inserts. Dom showed Apici, a new line inspired by the oil treated Apici stone.
Opposing Trends in Sizes
Trends in tile sizes are moving in two very different directions. A general trend in sizing points to floor tiles getting bigger, often with medallions and border designs. PIEMMEGRES's large-format Mediterraneo pairs with steel and crystal accent tiles. CERDISA's stone-look Sandstone offsets its large format with textural nature-inspired insets. The larger formats reinforce tile's place in sophisticated settings, while at the same time, mesh-mounted mosaics - small in scale but large in impact - continue to grow in popularity as manufacturers showed new collections that mixed glass, mother-of-pearl, wood, and porcelain. Examples include CERAMICA DI TREVISO's unusual Essenze, which mixes metallics, iridescents and wood, and COGIR GLASS's half-moon mosaic. Another standout in format trends was the continued experimentation with the popular subway-style format. The rectangle got longer and thinner, such as C.A.P.R.I.'s Interior Design, Marazzi's Percorsi and KEREX's Seeta. In contrast to this, DOM brought out the whimsical Parka, a small-scale rectangular format with a puffy, "parka-like" appearance.
The Strength of Tradition
Decorative patterns and hand-decorated trim pieces continue to play an important role in tile design. Within this style there was a focus on unusual colors and traditional majolica patterns. The hexagon also had a come-back; ECO CERAMICA's Dimore painted creatures could come straight from antiquity, and DI SIENA's hand-made Pavimenti is imbued with warmth.
MAESTRI MAJOLICARI's "Chroma" shows colors in rich and varied hues reminiscent of brushwork, while ECO brought out more painterly looks with Pittori.
New Countertop Options
Mirage showed addition shapes for its Granito Ceramico, an exciting new development in countertop and flooring material. Literally "ceramic granite", this patented material combines the durability of vitrified stoneware with the luster and natural look of real granite. Its large format slabs can be fabricated with traditional marble/stone machinery; Granito Ceramico can be used for countertops, stairs, shelves, and a variety of wall applications, and is offered in a wide range of colors in polished, honed, or unpolished surfaces.
The Italian ceramic tile industry is committed to sustainability. Many of the Italian producers have received certification for production methods that are energy efficient. Current practices help Italian producers to offer products to the market that are sustainable and responsibly manufactured. One company that has pushed the "Green" envelope is GAMBARELLI. At Cersaie, GAMBARELLI introduced Oxygena, an innovative new porcelain tile that will actually cut down on pollution. When ultraviolet rays hit Oxygena's surface, titanium dioxide, which has photocatalytic qualities, activates an oxidisation process that transforms polluting gases such as nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide into nitrate ions which are harmless, eco-efficient salts. This totally eco-friendly process is similar to photosynthesis, whereby plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, thus purifying the atmosphere. Clearly, this is a revolutionary approach with exciting possibilities for urban exterior cladding.
It's this combination of technical innovation and dedication to design that keeps the Italian producers ahead of the pack. Italians have a deep and basic desire to bring products of good design to the world. It is for this reason that Italy is still the world's largest producer - and Cersaie is a must see event.