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.
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.
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.
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.
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.