Shimmering surfaces, sleek metal inserts and iridescent decors are dominating the market this season. Pictured: Keope “Wish”

Italian tile captures the elegance of silk, the sophistication of damask and the luxury of linen. Pictured: Impronta Italgraniti “Le Rable”

Visitors to Coverings, the premier tile and stone trade show held from April 17-20, 2007 in Chicago, IL, were treated to a taste of the latest trend-setting new collections from Italy’s leading manufacturers of ceramic tile. Making their way to distributors across the country, these fresh new looks range from metallic finishes to faux fabrics to fashion-forward designs for the sexes. Also flooding the market this season will be an array of nature-inspired decors, technology-driven surfaces and new notable formats.

From subtle stripes to debonair designs, men’s fashion has found its way onto hard surfaces. Pictured: Atlas Concorde “Glow”


The metallic trend, which continues to be strong, has added another element to the mix. Many new series now imitate corten steel, oxidized metal and bronze. Some Italian tile manufacturers are going so far as to infuse metal into the body of the porcelain tile as well as to use the material to create luxurious decorations in the tile’s surface. Finally trims – either made of metal or designed to look like metal – are available in the majority of today’s new introductions.

Tried and true, Floor Gres’ “Steeltech” is an innovative porcelain collection that has pieces of the material for which it is named inside the body of the tile. The company also debuted “Cortech,” which recreates the changing tones of oxidized metal slabs. Kermont’s stalk-inspired decors, part of the “Allure collection,” are actually stainless steel inserts. Viva also shined in this category. Its “Penthouse” collection mixes large floor tiles with metallic glazed inserts to form oversized shimmering circles interspersed with soft pillow-shaped squares. Also elegant are the silver-rich decorative patterns from Viva’s “Silver & Co” collection.

Produced using a double-pressed manufacturing process and available in green, platinum, silver, copper and gold, Manifattura Emiliana’s “Metal Style” looks like a series of rare precious minerals. Tagina’s “Fucina” offers six metallic hues including Magnetite and bronze. Each color offers stunning decors of Celtic artwork, mesh-mounted mosaics and long, thin rectangular listellos. Eco Ceramica innovatively installed their flower shaped tiles, part of the new “Metals” collection, as the surface material for all the tables in their booth during Coverings. The series mixes rustic colors with modern forms and patterns. Viva’s “Nouvelle Vague Collection” has a gentle rough surface reminiscent of aged iron. “Mirroire” from Lea’s “New Decors” series also has beautiful reflective qualities. The innovative porcelain material used in Keope’s “Wish” collection has an iridescent effect that enhances the depth and natural appearance of the product.

Sant’Agostino launched a new range of tiles that reflect the metropolitan lifestyle. With its oversized formats, qualities, chic decors and technical features, “Laser” is ideal for contemporary high traffic spaces including offices and restaurants. Fioranese also made a big statement by adding a wide range of oversized decors including flowers, target and galaxy to its through-body glazed porcelain tile collection “Steelwork.” DesignTaleStudio, the creative lab of Refin, debuted its extraordinary “Pareti d’Autore.” The series of 24” x 48” artful ceramic panels includes two limited edition handmade collections - one finished in platinum and one in 24-carat gold.

Shining Stars include: Viva “Backstage,” Ascot “Galactica,” Brennero “Vernissage,” Cotto D’Este “Kerlite Trilogy,” Monina “Meetal” and Edimax “Plate”.

Oversized and colorful, floral prints are making a big statement in interior design. Pictured: Panaria “Exochic”


Flowers are always en vogue. This season, color and scale are the main ingredients. Move over wallpaper, Bisazza’s glass mosaic collection “Hanami,” designed by Carlo Dal Bianco, is a striking combination of oriental style and oversized floral motifs. “Herberia” by Neoflò packs a powerful floral punch with its two four-piece panel options. Although the mosaics may be small, the jaw-dropping mesh-mounted murals from Sicis’ “Flower Power Collection” dominate walls. Like pages from an artist’s sketchbook, Panaria’s “Exochic” shows off floral line drawings on a 14” x 28” porcelain canvas. Master Pavimaster’s “Vanity,” which looks like lovely strips of wallpaper, mixes perky pinks and garden greens with modish floral figures. Although the two-toned pattern of Edilgres Sirio’s “In Land” is subtler in color, it creates the same wallpaper-esque effect. The silver leaf-like pattern of Del Conca’s “Kenzia” spreads from tile to tile like beautiful ground cover. Saime’s “Glamour” series features a field of magnolias in bas-relief. The surface of Ergon Engineered Stone’s “Mikado” mixes a bamboo-inspired background with tone-on-tone images of lilies, gerber daises, daffodils and black-eyed susans.

Favorite Florals include: Cerim “Trend,” Edilcuoghi “New Light,” Aspiro “Contrasti,” Supergres “Pelle” and Majorca “Fehn”.

Innovative new formats and fashionable colors make the wood-look a natural choice. Pictured: La Faenza “Amazzonia”

The Elements of Style

According to the National Association of Home Builders’ Women’s Council, “Women are the most influential decision makers in home building.” Therefore, it is no surprise that many of the new Italian tile collections are exactly, as Mel Gibson so plainly put it, “What women want.” This season’s luxurious looks range from linen to silk, with textures, grains and weaves that match the respective fabric to the tee. To top it all off, beautiful decors and classic patterns like the Audrey Hepburn mosaic produced by Appiani add a chic design sensibility.

Ceramica Fioranese’s “Silky” draws attention because of its inviting texture and oversized curly compositional pieces. Maioliche dell’Umbria, a branded division of Sadon, introduced “Silk,” a series of subway styled tiles with a smooth, glossy surface while Astor added new colors to its popular “Klis.” For a velvety alternative, Ragno’s “Nabuk” and Refin’s “Velvet Ground” have a soft and lustrous feel. The alluring surface of “Glow” by Atlas Concorde, which looks like it is spun from the finest flax fibers, is enhanced by the collection’s celestial iridescent colors: star, sun, planet, galaxy, moon and cosmos. The series also boasts a beautiful two-toned damask print, which is available in all six color-options. Similarly, Saime’s “Metropolitan” has a subtly textured surface. The damask print has a soft sheen and unlike other collections where the pattern is solely for walls, these tiles can be used for both floor and wall applications.

From two-toned patchwork patterns with a contemporary country charm to multi-hued seductive stripes, “Ebur” by Panaria has a long-lasting appeal. Marca Corona’s “Mon Amour” combines floral designs, pastel colors, lace and embroidered decorations. “Madison,” a lavish new ceramic series from Nautilus comes outfitted in bouclé fabrics, leather reliefs or silk-screened graphics. Impronta Italgraniti’s “Le Rable,” French for root, draws its name from the particular root of the maple tree, which is highly prized in both cabinetwork and ornamental craftsmanship. The elegant designs including ramage (bird song), bijoux (jewel), demassè (damask) and nature make this collection doubly impressive. Like an authentic kimono, Lea’s “Fleur Noir,” part of the “New Decors” collection has a luxurious black and golden floral décor set against a rich crimson background. Rex’s “Metaux” collection is inspired by sinuous flowery motifs, a traditional arabesque design. This Islamic art form is culturally associated with the feminine nature of giving.

The four-piece compositional piece, part of Ceramiche Fontana Bismantova’s “Luxor” collection, looks like a luxurious 3’ x 3’ oriental rug. Similar to the modular carpet tiles designed by Flor, Caesar’s new collection “Arreda” also offers endless possibilities. The series, which features tone-on-tone graphics, interwoven designs and eight colors, has a unique zipper-like rectified edge, which allows the tiles to interlock. For creative kicks, install a mix of colors to form a stunning quilted pattern.

Meticulous Menswear

With each year that goes by, the Italians, who are always in the forefront of fashion and design, are merging the two worlds together. This time, the producers of Italian tile have tapped into the latest trends in menswear. Dapper designs range from stripes, like those found on a Paul Smith shirt, to enlarged patterns reminiscent of a classic Turnbull & Asser print.

The graphic patterns of Atlas Concorde’s eco-friendly “Glow” series look like they came straight from the Pitti Uomo exhibition in Italy. Cerim’s “I Tessuti” offers the look and feel of a tailored tweed suit or flat cap. It may be hard to differentiate whether a talented seamstress or a skilled ceramist created Majorca’s new collection, “Flax.” This line of glazed porcelain tile resembles course linen and comes complete with special decorative trim pieces, which feature stitches of varying lengths. “Textile” by Piemme offers a similar look and comes in four neutral colors. Gently ribbed with bands of subtle shade variation, Mirage’s “Fabrics” is a fashion vanguard. The collection was produced using Infinity, a new technology that allows the company to create the detail on the surface of the tile as well as throughout its entire body.

For the well-groomed man: Cerim “Unito,” Atlas Concorde, Lux “Elisir,” Polis “Mood,” Settecento “Musiva” and Edilgres Sirio “Around You”.

Planet Earth

Although the wood look has been a reoccurring trend, this year the Italian tile manufacturers have taken this faux material to an all time high. New technologies have led to the introduction of innovative formats, fresh patterns, and colors that perfectly match wood tones as well as hues that cannot be found in natural timber. The market will be saturated with elongated planks, oversized squares, slender trims and even basket-weave effects. Tiles are also made to look like organic materials such as papyrus, rattan and stone. Many of these collections not only take their cues from nature, but also are certified by the Eco-label – thus helping to preserve the environment.

With a planked surface, Rondine Group’s “Eco Forest” is an excellent alternative to wood. The collection’s name alone implies its innately sustainable characteristics. “Bois” by Edilcuoghi reproduces the look of teak while “Glam Wood” by Rex evokes the warm memories of old wooden floors. Serenissima’s “Timberlands” and Gambarelli’s “Sequoia” each boast a quaint rustic charm. The warmth of wedge wood comes alive in Flaviker’s “Neverland.” The series mixes chic square interwoven motifs and stylish herringbone patterns. Ceramica Sant’Agostino’s “N.O.W” comes in seven natural colors ranging from a whitewashed wood to a dark ebony and six oversized rectified formats. The versatile collection also offers 12”x 12” tiles with a beautiful basket weave pattern and 12”x 24” pieces with slim mesh-mounted rectangular strips.

From planks to rough hewn surfaces, natural looks abound this season. Alfa Ceramica’s “Absolute” is inspired by the rare Bedonia Stone while Cerdomus’ “Theme” collection offers a number of different surface options that reproduce the stone for which they are named. Campani’s “Agathae” is an authentic graphic interpretation of onyx and comes in earthy colors including: desert, mountains, hills, masai and polar. “Basalto” by Ceramica Fioranese recreates the look of volcanic rock. Century’s all-natural collection “Fahrenheit” is sure to heat up the market. Its pebbled surface just begs to be touched. Piemme’s continued collaboration with Italian fashion designer Valentino has resulted in yet another stunning collection. Appropriately named “Papirum,” the line takes its inspiration from the papyrus plant and has a luxurious veined surface.

Natural picks include: Cerdomus “Denver Stone,” Casalgrande Padana “Granitogres,” Tagina “Lignite,” Ker-Av “Sassi di Sassuolo,” Mirage “Natura,” Imola Ceramica “Suber,” Ascot “Chantico,” ABK “Lodge,” Imola “Vintage” and La Faenza “Amazzonia”.

Texture comes in all formats – from multi-level mosaics to bas-relief designs. Pictured: Marca Corona “Reaction”

What a Relief!

From tiny mixed mosaics to visually graphic patterns in bas-relief to raised motifs created out of glaze, Italian tile manufacturers continue to push the proverbial envelope.

Marca Corona’s “Reaction” and Refin’s “Arketipo” offer small mesh-mounted mosaics of differing thicknesses. When applied to walls, the tiles form a stunning three-dimensional texture. Lea’s “Masterplan” offers a similar look but in a more rectangular format. The flexible “Beveled Mosaic” collection from Etruria Design can be used to adorn cylindrical columns and in tight corner spaces. Ceramica Di Treviso’s mini 1x1cm glazed mosaics from the “Dripping” collection come in a sea of colors and have smooth, almost rounded surfaces.

Ascot’s “Absolute” features a three-dimensional undulating pattern and original origami-like designs in relief. Dom’s “Toxic MudTile02” is the result of an ongoing collaboration with Canadian-based designer Catherine Braconnier. The collection features elevated circle quilt patterns like those found in up-market textiles. Impronta Italgraniti’s “Pietra Di Vesale Fusione” is the perfect blend of color and texture. The radiant glazed surface boasts a variety of patterns including vertical winding streams of raku-like hues.

For dynamic dimensions: Samie “Geo Quartz,” Cedir “Zero,” Edilcuoghi “Tessere” and San Prospero “Vogue”.

Whether in the market for state-of-the-art porcelains or hand-decorated ceramics, Italian tile manufacturers are able to meet the needs of any style. Pictured: Ce.Vi's hand-decorated tiles

From High-Tech to Handmade

Through the use of computerized drawings, laser cut design and state-of-the-art technology, Italian tile manufacturers are able to generate unique graphic cutouts and stunning surface patterns in their new products.

With its new collection, “Pixel,” Ceramica Fioranese is bringing the digital revolution to the world of Italian tile. Del Conca’s “dot it” porcelain line is the result of the most advanced research and technology. It is produced in square and rectangular mosaic as well as unique trapezium pieces. Marked by a modern style, Caesar’s new “D-sign” combines outstanding performance with aesthetic appeal. The line includes two decors – stave and laser – as well as colored listellos made of glass and metal. Sichenia introduced a line of tiles with glass filled cutouts that look like falling tulips. The new Onde insert, part of Ragno’s “Arkitessuto” collection is a sinuous piece obtained by engraving the surface and using resin to create a continuous play of soft lines, light and shadow. Gabbianelli’s “Frammenti” offers a modular graphic element produced using a pre-engraving technique. Edilcuoghi’s “Guru” looks like screen-printed tire tracks paved on the tile’s surface.

Whereas many manufacturers are embracing the technological advances, some remain equally committed to more artisanal products. Ce.Vi’s hand decorated tiles were installed as flooring in the Regina Isabella hotel in Naples. The striking ornate pattern faithfully reproduces the old ceramic tiles already present in the prestigious hotel built in 1954 by Angelo Rizzoli. Maestri Majolicari “Majolicari Atelier Galassie” is a double-fired ceramic wall tile with elegant glazed decors made entirely by hand.

Stellar standouts include: Monocibec “M.ono” and Cotto D’Este “Colorlife”.

These eight leading trends promise to make a big splash in the US market. For more information on new products,, the portal to the Italian ceramic tile industry.