Advances in Technology Produce Innovative New DesignsA key factor that influences ceramic tile design trends is the development of new manufacturing technology. Each year, manufacturers seek to gain an edge over their competitors by developing unique finishes. This year, an exciting new printing method was unveiled by several key manufacturers; the process is similar to standard four-color printing, in which different pigments are combined to create an infinite number of color variations. In the place of liquid glazes, colored clay nanoparticles are injected onto the surface of the tiles, including edges and recessed areas. The result is a finish with no visible pixelation, which allows for countless photorealistic finishes imitating stone, wood or any other design. Colorkerdebuted the new system, which it is calling "Tecktonia," at Cevisama, and several other manufacturers, includingRexandInalco, are already using the process.
A Shift Toward ModernismOne of the most significant trends this year is a shift toward modernist designs and less emphasis on the rustic looks that have been predominant for so long. Many manufacturers have adopted a minimalist aesthetic that emphasizes modularity and interchangeability, allowing consumers to mix and match different lines together to achieve personalized designs. The shift toward modernism has also affected the color palettes offered this year, with more emphasis on clean, crisp neutral shades and less on rustic hues. Another reflection of this modernist aesthetic is the growing use of metallic finishes and accent pieces, which are often combined with flat, neutral shades to yield a contemporary feel.
Natural Looks Becoming More ConvincingOne of the major trends in recent years has been the development of tile finishes that mimic the look and texture of natural stone, wood and other natural products. These products have become so adept at mimicking their natural counterparts that it is often difficult to distinguish them apart without close-up inspection. While stone looks were immediately embraced by consumers, wood looks have been slower to gain acceptance, perhaps due to size limitations. With the advent of larger formats, however, wood look ceramic tiles are now available in sizes that mimic natural wood more closely.
Some of the outstanding new wood look series that were introduced include:Roca'sForestwall tile collection andNorwayfloor tile collection, which is available in six natural wood colors;Colorker'sTundra; ChenbySaloni, a colored body porcelain available in four colors in 12-by-24- and 18-by-36-inch formats;Anima, a new series fromNatucer; Grespania'sZebranoseries andAzuvi'sPerformanceseries.