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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.