On the opening day of the show, which was held March 24-27 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Anfacer, the show´s organizers, held a press conference to welcome international journalists. Antonio Carlos Kieling, supervising director of Anfacer, highlighted the emergence of Brazil as a major force in the global economy.
The conference also included noted American architects Richard Macri and Daniel Libeskind, who discussed the changing role that architecture plays in the world today. Macri noted that Brazilian ceramic products are being used more often in his firm´s projects.
“We are a design-driven business, so we try to emphasize products that exemplify outstanding design; we are increasingly finding these products in Brazil,” Macri said.
Thanks to an ongoing period of growth in both residential and commercial construction, the Brazilian ceramic tile industry has so far avoided the economic malaise that currently affects the U.S. and European sectors. While exports to the United States have decreased in the past year, the strong domestic market has partially compensated for the loss of U.S. sales. When asked about the impact of the financial crisis on the ceramic tile industry, Brazilian manufacturer representatives were cautiously optimistic.
“This crisis was invented by the media,” stated Josselei Delfini Paulo, director of marketing and sales for Porto Ferreira. He noted that the company´s sales are only down five percent from the previous year, and that the company is moving forward with its expansion plans. “We will be investing $50 million for new equipment this year,” Paulo added.
“In Brazil, we are not affected to a great degree by the global credit crisis,” said Fernando Veiga Prata, Ph.D, president of Gail Ceramica and also a trained economist who previously worked as a consultant for a major Wall Street financial firm. “The banking industry in Brazil is very sound, with a high degree of liquidity,” Prata added.
On the show floor, there was an abundance of innovative new ceramic tile designs, incorporating the latest manufacturing technology, as well as innovative new technologies that will influence tile manufacturing trends worldwide.
Eliane, the largest Brazilian exporter to the United States, made sustainability the main focus for marketing its products at Revestir, as exemplified by the company´s Ecostone series, which uses 60 percent recycled materials and an optimized production process that achieves a 90 percent reduction in water use and 50 percent less electricity. Eliane also introduced its new Emporio series, which is produced using a new composite ceramic manufacturing process in which cement and other raw materials are combined with plastic bonding agents and poured into molds; the materials then bind without firing, resulting in an extremely durable tile that is intended for exterior applications such as pools, spas and decks. The company´s ultra-thin porcelain line, Laminum, has proven extremely popular with designers, and is now available in four colors, in 100 x100, 50 x 100, and 50 x50 cm sizes, as well as the original 1 x 3 m ultra large format, and can also be cut to the customer´s specifications. Because it is 60 percent lighter than conventional technical porcelain tiles, the series is ideal for vertical applications such as walls and facades.
“We recently received a prestigious award for our innovations in recycling technology,” stated Jose Lepri Neto, founder of Lepri Ceramicas. “We are very proud of this significant achievement.”
In addition to innovations in recycling and sustainability, Brazilian tile manufacturers also offered new ideas to make tile more useful in everyday use. Villagres introduced its new Technovilla series, which uses different textural patterns to assist blind people in safely navigating potentially dangerous areas such as street crossings. Gyotoku presented the first porcelain tiles ever to incorporate Microban technology, which inhibits the growth of bacteria. This technology should prove extremely useful in applications where sanitary conditions are required, such as hospitals and kitchens.