Steuler is a company with a long ceramic tradition of more than seven decades, but a very progressive business strategy. Whereas ceramic products have been manufactured at the company's site in Mühlacker, Germany since 1917, today, following an intensive investment program, Steuler Fliesen operates one of the most modern tile factories in all of Europe.

The basis of the company's success is a strong domestic market. The Steuler Tile Group has confounded the skeptics who did not believe it was possible to turn back the tide of imports and establish a successful manufacturing-based tile company in Germany. What is more, the Group has achieved its success against the backdrop of a 28 percent fall in German consumption over the past five years.

The approach Steuler has taken in the USA is both unusual and admirable. As CEO, Paul Heldens explains, "Steuler does not believe going to potential distributors and seeking orders unless all groundwork has been prepared in advance. Our approach in the USA was to appoint a marketing communications firm, Communicators International, to establish a brand image and create demand in advance of any commercial activity. We did so, and after just a few months, the results have been outstanding!"

Steuler's product portfolio is bright, contemporary and bold. It is typified by Flow, which features discreet, plain surfaces enlivened by an elegant interplay of contrasting formats and materials such as wenge wood, glass and stainless steel. The range even includes LED illuminated borders. However, it is the way in which Flow exploits the tensions between straight and wavy lines, and between ceramic and other natural textures, that makes the range seem so very fresh and exciting.

Freestyle is a versatile tile series based on 8-by-8-inch white gloss or matt tiles with a bumpy biscuit, as well as matt structured tiles with one or four "buttonholes." Buttons made of brushed chrome are simply inserted into the holes of the Freestyle tile. Silicon rings criss-cross the tiles from button to button, allowing attractive patterns to be created.

Steuler Fliesen's design credentials are best illustrated by the firm's collaboration with the Alessi Dream Factory to develop the Alessi Tiles by Steuler range. With Steuler, leading Alessi designers have developed a collection of wall and floor tiles in a variety of sizes for bathroom, kitchen and living areas: whether simply patterned tiles in white or light gray, colorfully decorated tiles or conservatively decorated floor tiles on a dark background.

The ranges include A+A Tile, Proust and Viso Tile, all created by Alessandro Mendini. For the A+A Tile series, Mendini placed the "Anna G" and "Alessandro M" decorations on orange and light blue tiles. Proust and Viso Tile similarly utilize colors and patterns from Mendini's earlier work to accentuate the square, white tiles.

With a strong manufacturing base, sophisticated marketing strategy and bold portfolio of designs to bring to market, Steuler is primed to continue expanding its export sales; while its enthusiasm relative to cutting-edge design is another significant step establishing the overall image of tile as far more than just a "commodity" wall and floor finish.

For more information, please visit Steuler Fliesen at: www.steuler-fliesen.de