Arte de Vivre by Refin is a floor tile series designed by Antonio Bullo with designs reminiscent of the paintings of Jackson Pollock.

More than 98,000 visitors attended Cersaie 2004, an increase over the past several years.
Every October, ceramic tile manufacturers from around the world journey to Bologna, Italy to showcase the best and brightest creations the ceramic tile industry has to offer. This year, more than 98,000 visitors attended Cersaie 2004, the 22nd international exhibition of ceramic tiles and bathroom furnishings, an increase over last year's show. In addition to more attendees, the show, which was held Sept. 28-Oct. 3, also featured more exhibit space, thanks to the opening of a new two-level hall, which boosts 28,000 square meters of total space, for a show total of 156,000 square meters. As always, these spaces were filled with the latest designs in ceramic tile, which will establish key design trends worldwide for the coming year.

Retro Designs Gaining Popularity

One of the first things that was noticeable at Cersaie 2004 was the proliferation of retro designs, especially bold colors and motifs inspired by the fashion and culture of the ‘70s. Avocado green, gold, rust, and all shades of brown were some of the many retro shades on display, as well as ‘60s colors such as lime green, pastel yellow, and tangerine. One particularly popular color scheme was varying shades of brown combined with accent colors such as avocado or lime green. Some outstanding retro designs included Colorlab by Fioranese, which combined shades of brown and beige with avocado green accents; Impronta Italgraniti's new Twist series, which combines bold colors such as tangerine with a variety of textures; Living by King's Ceramica; Lea's Progetto 14; Pretaporter by Ceramica Viva, which used abstract organic shapes in bright contrasting colors; Marazzi's Fashion; RGB-Pop Art by Rex; as well as retro-inspired designs by Monocibec, Naxos, Emilceramica, Dom and Floorgres. Organic shapes such as flowers, swirls, and spirals added to the retro feel, bringing a new sense of playfulness and fun to the colorful and imaginative displays.

Murazzi by Ceramica Di Treviso is a series of mesh-mounted irregularly shaped mosaic tiles that are available in 16 bold colors.
A Broader, Bolder Color Palette

Another major trend evident at Cersaie is the ever-increasing variety of color schemes available to the tile buyer. Where color palettes were once dominated by shades of beige and gray, every color of the spectrum is now represented, with pastel shades gaining in popularity again. One of the most popular colors now is red, from bright, bold pure reds, to all shades of burgundy and pinkish hues; visitors to the show were seeing red wherever they turned. Pastel shades of green, yellow, blue and orange were also quite popular, as were shades of brown, from chocolate to mocha.

Natural Looks More Realistic than Ever

Another obvious trend is the increasing realism of ceramic tiles designed to imitate the look and texture of natural materials such as stone, wood and textiles. What once were obviously crude imitations of natural materials are now amazingly realistic duplicates in terms of both coloration and texture, while possessing superior technical characteristics that make them a viable alternative to natural materials in many design applications. One display that emphasized this new realism was Dom's Surfaces, which placed uncanny reproductions of wood, leather, and even cardboard next to their real-life counterparts and challenged the viewer to differentiate between them.

Kerex Comelegno offers a realistic wood look with the technical advantages of glazed porcelain tile.

While stone looks have been evolving for quite some time, it is wood looks that have shown the most rapid progress recently. The realism of color and texture shown in new products by Rex, Dom, Porcelanosa and others is truly amazing, and it would be difficult to differentiate these products from their natural counterparts from a standing position. Some of the wood look ceramics were obviously intended to perfectly mimic the look of their natural counterparts, while other added unusual color schemes and textures not found in traditional wood flooring to offer unique new approaches to wood looks. Some outstanding examples of wood looks were Rex's Abisko, which featured teardrop shaped pieces inspired by a tree's knots; Marazzi's Woods, a realistic mahogany imitation; Kerex Comelegno, a modernist wood design; Lea's Texture Legno; Rondine's New Wood; and Pocelanosa's Arce, a stunningly realistic wood look available in large format sizes.

Colorlab by Fioranese was one of several new product displays mixing shades of brown with light green, a very popular color trend; the series is available in twelve contemporary colors and shades.

Stone looks also continue to grow more realistic in color and texture, with a plethora of new stone-look lines on display imitating marble, slate, sandstone, granite, travertine, and virtually every other type of natural stone. Some outstanding stone products on display at the show included Marazzi's Metrope, an authentic sandstone reproduction; Floor Gres' Grand Tour, which imitates crosscut travertine; Rocks by Edilcoughi; La Fabbrica's Imago; and Roca's ubiquitous Rock and Rock, which showcased several new additions to this popular line of stone-look porcelain tile.

Kerlite by Cotto D’Este is an innovative new ultra-thin porcelain tile; it is 3mm thick and is available in three sizes and six colors.
Modular Formats Break New Ground

Modular formats continue to gain in popularity, and the range of formats on display at Cersaie was truly amazing. Many manufacturers debuted modular product lines, in which tiles of various sizes are combined within the same installation; this format allows end users virtually unlimited flexibility in their tile design choices.

One novel approach to modular formats was taken by Lea, whose Midtown line features tiles of varying thicknesses, which can be combined to provide nearly endless variation in texture. Other interesting modular formats included Suburbia by Supergres, Floorgres Sala, Monocibec Open Space, Compass by Edilcuoghi, Isla Nexxt, Rondine Mineraria and Lea Midtown.

Another series featuring the popular brown and beige combination is Downtown by Lux, shown in 20-by-20 cm format.

Another unique format is oversized, ultra-thin porcelain tiles, a new technology that is likely to find many design applications. Produced using a state-of-the-art technology, and measuring an impressive 1-by-3 meters in size, two new collections, Kerlite by Cotto D'Este and Endless by Provenza, are both a mere 3 mm thick.

One of the more unusual wood looks was Legni by Coem, which is available in 25-by-50-cm and 12.5-by-50-cm formats.
Metallic and Glass Finishes and Accents Add Sparkle

Metallic and glass finishes and accent pieces have also gained in popularity; numerous ceramic tiles imitating stainless steel, iron, brass, copper, and all types of metal could be found throughout the show, as well as metal and glass accent pieces of all shapes and descriptions.

Wood looks continue to become more popular, thanks to technological advances that allow for amazing realism. Porcelanosa’s Arce is stunning in its photorealistic recreation of birch wood flooring; the series is available in the large format 31.6-by-90 cm size.
Corten, a type of naturally oxidized iron which ranges from reddish brown to green, is also especially popular this year. Interesting metallic designs included Sicis's metallic mosaics, a unique copper look from Bi Marmi, Tau's trend-setting Corten, and Bardelli's Bronzi, a hand-made floor and wall series which has the appearance of a weave of wool and copper yarns.

Stone looks remain enormously popular, and continue to increase in realism, as shown in this example, Stagioni by Faro, glazed porcelain tile in 50-by-50-cm format designed to imitate the texture of natural marble.
Some of the standout glass designs included Palladium Glass by Ceramgres, a contemporary reinterpretation of the mosaic; Opus by Ceramgres, which combines thin strips of liquid glass mixed with ceramic material; Cotto Veneto's Sotto Vetro, which mixes glass and ceramic swirls; Cooperativa Ceramica d-Imola's Arkim collection, which imitates the deep blue coloration of lapis lazuli, and Sicis' Glimmer, a transparent mosaic with a mother of pearl finish that reflects light to imitate the surface of the ocean.

Palladium Glass by Ceramgres is contemporary reinterpretation of the mosaic; every sheet is artisan-made with glass tiles of differing shapes and sizes, and is available in 10 color variations.

While many manufacturers seem to be emphasizing a modernistic aesthetic, more traditional ceramics, such as mosaics and terra cotta, seem more popular than ever, suggesting a future that is a functional balance of the oldest and newest technologies.

Impronta Italgraniti’s eye-catching new collection, Twist, offers unique combinations of color and texture.
If Cersaie is any indication of the direction of ceramic design in the coming year, then the future is bright indeed for the ceramic tile industry.