Monocibec’s Wood & Stone series combines a variety of wood and stone textures in a single series, with four colors of stone and five colors of wood.

Red and white remains a popular combination; shown is Carnaby by Villeroy and Boch.
Every year, ceramic tile industry professionals from around the world travel to Bologna, Italy for the world's largest exhibition of ceramic tile and related products, Cersaie. This year, more than 88,500 people made the journey, and were rewarded with an incredible panorama of innovative new ceramic designs. These designs, which range from classic and retro styles to futuristic creations and everything in between, will influence ceramic tile design throughout the coming year.

One of the more unusual ceramic textures at Cersaie was Sculpture by Cerdomus, a porcelain tile series designed by noted architect Massimiliano Fuksas.
More Color Choices than Ever Before
While traditional pastels and retro colors continue to be popular, bold, bright colors such as pink, purple and yellow were popping up all over, resulting in a color palette as full as a rainbow. Warm shades such as orange and gold reflect a more retro sensibility, while a preponderance of neutral shades suggest that minimalism is also a powerful influence on today's design aesthetic. Black and white remains a popular combination, with innovative textures and formats adding interest to this tried-and-true color scheme. Often, bright accent colors are used to accent neutral colors schemes, with red and blue being the most common accent colors.

Natural textures continue to grow more lifelike, as shown in this crocodile skin imitation, Coccodrillo by KIS.
Some innovative takes on the black and white theme include Chirasuro, a new black and white series from Fioranese; and Dom's Parka series, which uses unusual textures to add flair to a conventional black and white design. Some of the more colorful new series include Cir's In Tinta, which combines retro shapes and colors with traditional pastel shades to yield a fresh approach to color design; Orizzanti, a new series from La Faenza, utilizes bright pink and purple as accent colors for its pastel pink and purple wall tiles; the pink and purple combination is also used to great effect by Marca Corona in its new series, Why Not. Orange is one of the most popular colors this year; outstanding examples include Fap's Crea and Atlante by Ceramica di Treviso.

Bold, bright colors like purple and pink were featured more this year; this whimsical example is Why Not, a new series from Marca Corona.
Innovative Textures Take Tile to the Next Level
One of the most important trend in ceramic tile design is the development of innovative new textures that were previously not possible with ceramic tile. New manufacturing techniques allow for deeper textures and profiles, and manufacturers are using this new technology to the fullest, exploring nature-inspired and futuristic designs with equal aplomb, and the results are nothing less than stunning.

Wood textures have become even more refined, as shown in this example, Esko by Impronta Italgraniti.
Outstanding examples of innovative new textures include Cerdomus' Sculpture, a new porcelain series designed by noted architect Massimiliano Fuksas; the series features a deeply textured ultramodern design and metallic finish that add a bold twist to any design especially on vertical surfaces; Lea introduced several series, such as Scratch, that utilize a new sandblasting technique that yields unusual textured surfaces.

Floral designs were hotter than ever this year; one outstanding examples is Madison by Emilceramica.
"Our goal was to create a concept around decoration," explained Lea's Emilio Mussini. "These new series integrate materials and decoration."

Ceramica di Treviso offers an usual approach to mosaics with their new series, Puzzle.
Natural textures such as wood, stone, and fabric remain an important inspiration to ceramic tile designers, and this year many innovative new natural textures were on display. Emilceramica introduced Tweed, which features a very detailed three dimensional tweed texture. Iris introduced its news Textile series, which recreates a variety of fabric patterns and textures into a comprehensive collection. Atlas Concorde's Next series features an innovative fabric texture; Melange, a new series from Edilcuoghi also features a lifelike cloth texture.

Shades of brown remain quite popular; shown is Touch by Cedir, a new porcelain wall tile series available in six colors.
Kerex's Kerpaper series imitates the texture of rag paper. KIS presented Coccodrillo, a stylish wall tile series that imitates the texture of natural crocodile skin with uncanny accuracy. Settecento also released a series based on crocodile textures, the CrocoTiles series, which offers an unusual twist on the theme with bright splashy colors and unusually shaped accent pieces.

Modular systems allow for nearly endless customization potential; shown is In Tinta by Cir, a new porcelain collection that includes wall and floor tiles as well as bathroom fixtures.
Stone textures continue to be a major source of inspiration for designers, with many new stone look series introduced this year. Marca Corona's new I Ciottoli series recreates many various types of Italian natural stones; Fondovalle introduced Slate Valley, one of the most realistic slate recreations to date; Floor Gres' new Stone Tech series offers natural stone textures in 18 different colors; and Faro's new series, Alabastro, offers a very convincing marble texture.

Orange continues to be a popular color; shown is Crea by Fap, a new edge-ground large format tile collection available in three bold colors.
Modular Formats Continue to Expand in Scope
Another common trend is the diversification of modular formats. Where tile was once confined to several common smaller format sizes, the sky is the limit now as ceramic tile manufacturers offer modular formats that encompass every imaginable size, from micro mosaics to large format tiles 24-by-48 inches and larger, and everything in between. These sizes can be combined in a variety of ways to yield endless design variations. One notable example of the expanded modular format is the new Chromtech series from Floor Gres, which offers 10 colors, each in three different finishes, matte, polished and paint; these finishes can be combined in different interchangeable modular sizes to yield countless design variations. Another important trend is the emergence of super-sized formats as large as 1 by 3 meters, which are ideally suited for vertical cladding applications both indoors and outside. Cotto d'Este's innovative Kerlite series offers formats as large as 1 by 3 meters in an amazingly thin 3-mm thickness, which offers an advantage in weight over traditional materials, allowing for very lightweight vertical installations.

Another outstanding wood look ceramic tile is Bois, a new porcelain tile series from Edilcuoghi.
In addition to the expansion of modular formats to include more sizes, other manufacturers are taking the modular format concept to the next level by offering matching fixtures and accessories. One company that has taken this system approach is Casa Dolce Casa, which presented its Casamood series; this comprehensive series integrates all materials for an installation, including the tile, grout, and even paint, with all materials perfectly matched.

Floral themes are very popular this year; shown is Bardelli’s Pimavera, a new double-fired ceramic tile series by designer Tord Boontje.
Glass Tile and Mosaics Remain Popular
Despite all of the cutting edge, ultramodern designs on display at Cersaie, there was also an even greater amount of glass tiles and mosaics, proving that these ancient materials remain relevant even today. Glass tiles of every size, color, and shape were on display, as well as several ceramic tiles designed to imitate the look of glass tile; these faux glass designs offer the popular glass look without the technical limitations of glass, making it an attractive choice for designers. An outstanding example of this faux glass style is Porcelanosa's new Glass series, which recreates the look of glass tiles with uncanny accuracy. The mosaic format has been revived with many modern interpretations to complement more traditional designs. One company that has taken the mosaic format in new directions is Ceramica di Treviso, which debuted several new mosaic series, including Murazzi, Atlante and Puzzle. The company's approach with these series is to make the grout joints an integral part of the design.

Fusioni by Antiche Fornaci D-Agostino is one of many innovative new metallic designs on display at Cersaie 2005.
"Our philosophy is that the grout joint becomes part of the composition," said Durigo Aldo, export manager for Ceramica di Treviso.

National Parks by Lea is one of many new stone look ceramic series on display at Cersaie.
Innovative Metallic Designs Keep Ceramic Tile on the Cutting Edge
Another obvious trend in ceramic tile design is the continuing popularity of metallic designs, with many exciting new metallic look ceramic tiles introduced this year, as well as several additions to already popular metallic series. Following on the success of its weathered steel design, Corten, Tau Ceramica added two new colors, Ice and Gold to its newest metallic series, Titanio. A new texture was also developed for this series to allow for use in flooring applications. Other outstanding metallic looks include Antiche Fornaci D'Agostino's Fusioni, a new line of hand-painted tiles made of lava and volcanic clay; and Metal, a new porcelain tile series from Aurelia available in two colors, copper and iron.

In addition to all of the technical innovations in ceramic tile that were on display on the show floor, an exhibit of student projects for the Cumulus Design Competition offers a glimpse into the future of ceramic tile design. Among the winning designs on display were climate controlled tiles, moving tiles that allow buildings to have a dynamic structure, shadow tiles that modify the light characteristics of a building, and light-collecting tiles, which collect light during the day, store it in photovaltaic cells, then disperse it at night. Although these concepts might seem far-fetched to some, given the amazing progress that has been made recently in ceramic tile technology, we're likely to see some of these theoretical applications become reality very soon.