Cersaie is an annual platform for innovation and forward-thinking design. Now 27 years strong, this exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings never seems to disappoint. In fact this year’s sold-out event, which featured 1000+ exhibitors, exemplified the same caliber prowess as the show’s keynote speaker Renzo Piano. Despite economic fears, the fair was alive and well, attracting 83,137 visitors from Italy and abroad. It was business as usual with new products aplenty. While major trends did emerge, all eyes were on sustainable solutions and energy-saving technologies.
Green ForumRecycled content and responsible production processes that reduce waste and water and lower energy consumption were top of mind for just about every Italian tile manufacturer at Cersaie. Addressing the sustainable movement head-on, many manufacturers have joined the Green Building Council Italia and the US Green Building Council. The Italian tile industry is using state-of-the-art new technologies to produce more eco-friendly slim formats, forms of solar paneling and even an antibacterial tile.
ReduceUsing less material is one way to reduce a carbon footprint. Many manufacturers used the fair to launch their new slim format porcelains. Unlike previous years, the tendency moved towards tiles that are 4-5mm thick as this size is strong enough for high-traffic floors and more sustainable to produce and ship. The compact thickness means it takes a smaller amount of energy and raw materials to produce and causes a lower level of harmful emissions to transmit. In terms of installation, the slim format tiles, available in the traditional 8”x8;” the sleek 12”x48” and 24”x48;” and the oversized 1mx3m sizes, can be laid over existing hard surfaces, therefore cutting down on construction costs and saving valuable time. This innovative thickness is available in: Florim’s “Slim/4,” Cotto D’Este’s “Kerlite,” Atlas Concorde’s “Linea,” Mirage’s “Atelier,” FAP’s “MissFap,” La Fabbrica’s “Cathay 4Fine,” Marazzi’s “Zero 4,” Del Conca’s “Zero 5;” Laminam’s “Sketch,” “Oxide,” “Jungle,” “Metropolis,” “Blend” and “Filo.”
RecycleFrom raw material to water, recyclability is the name of the game. In terms of production and responsible management, Italian tile manufacturers have a geographical edge as they are organized in industrial districts and have direct control on the environmental and social impact of their manufacturing operations, as well as the local trade of their products. Novabell, for example, is able to reuse 100% of the wastewater derived from the production cycle process, resulting in a more than 50% reduction in the premises’ water requirements and reducing external discharge to zero. New collections from Emilceramica, Ergon Engineered Stone, Caesar, Refin, Casalgrande Padana, Trend, Cedir, Fioranese, Pastorelli, Coem, Imola, Ragno, Impronta Ceramiche, Novabell, Viva, Lea Ceramiche and Marca Corona are a testament to the industry’s commitment to sustainability as many contain at least 40% pre-consumer recycled content.
Energy-Saving ApplicationsThe Italian tile industry has been actively promoting the use of ventilated wall façades. Marazzi offers an entire system, including substruct and fasteners, while dozens of others produce tiles suitable for this type of cladding technique.
At Cersaie, yet another way to involve tile in energy-saving forms emerged through the use of solar panels. Area Industrie Ceramiche’s new “Tegolasolare” integrates the solar panel system into the architecture of the building’s roof.
On a similar note, when used in conjunction with solar panels, Del Conca’s new radiant heating “Therma System” brings additional savings in the form of tax incentives.
Health and WellnessUsing the latest nanotechnologies, Casalgrande Padana “Bios” has developed a collection for health facilities, research labs, schools, wellness centers, restaurants, and other areas where hygiene and cleanliness are of importance. During the processing stages, the ceramic material is combined with mineral particles to generate an extremely effective antibacterial reaction. The patented product (patent no M02005A000232), which is available in all the series from the Granitogres and Marmogres lines, is the result of a research project conducted in collaboration with the Department of Microbiology of the University of Modena. It has proven highly effective, since it can achieve a 99.9% reduction of the four main bacteria families: Staphylococcus aureus (a spherical bacterium that commonly causes staph infections), Enterococcus faecalis (a commensal organism that can cause life-threatening infections in humans especially those in hospitals), Escherichia coli (E.coli) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (a common bacterium that can cause disease in animals and humans).
Designer CollaborationsMany top architects and designers are partnering with Italian manufacturers to produce avant-garde porcelains in a myriad of shapes, sizes and patterns.
Having previously worked with standouts like Andrée Putnam, Claudio La Viola, L+R Palomba, Mattia Frignani and Claudio Silvestrin, Brix has added three new names to the list: Vincent Van Duysen, Jean-Marie Massaud and Naoto Fukasawa. Following the same order, DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) by Vincent Van Duysen Design was inspired by the irregular pattern of cracks formed by aged paint and plaster. “Daedalus,” designed by Jean-Marie Massaud Design, was introduced as a prototype in 2008 and is now in production. Naoto Fukasawa Design set out to soften a traditionally hard surface material. To do so, Fukasawa developed a tile that mimics the texture and feel of Japanese cotton. Manufactured by Brix, it is appropriately called “Linen.”
Bardelli is another manufacturer widely known for its designer relationships. Since 1999, they have produced a number of Piero Fornasetti’s iconic patterns on an 8”x8” ceramic tile. Now they are adding even more to the collection including “Flying Machine” and “Sexy Witch.” Also noteworthy is their collaborations with Dutch designers Marcel Wanders and Ronald Van Der Hilst.
Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola added new shapes and materials, including recycled glass mosaics and laser-cut tiles to the “Déchirer” collection that she designed for Mutina.
Lea Ceramiche continued its partnership with Italian architect Diego Grandi. The latest introduction “Mauk” evokes the look of basalt stone and conveys a 3D effect like that of an Escher puzzle.
Wood & Wallpaper LooksThanks to ink-jet technology, tile surfaces can mimic any look – from wood to wallpaper. Their performance qualities including low water absorption, low maintenance, and durability make them suitable for areas where other materials could not be used.
In the wood-look category, Emilceramica’s “Golden Wood” and Rex’s “Le Essenze di Rex” would make anyone do a double take. Marca Corona’s “Old Wood,” has an aged charm while Fioranese’s “Wellness Wood” comes in the traditional style or decorated with glazed flowers. A handful of manufacturers opted to combine two popular trends into one that could be known as “slim-wood.” Cerim’s “I Legni Naturali Slim/4” and Cotto D’Este’s “Kerlite Oaks” are prime examples. Likewise, Mirage’s “Parquet” is available in a reduced-thickness version (4.8mm thick) or the traditional format.
Sculpted sand dunes, mosaic tribal patterns and tropical flowers are three different decorative options included in Settecento’s “Dunes” series, while Coem “Pietra Vicentina” is a two-piece compositional decor of a tone-on-tone forest scene. From forests to flowers, big blossoms like those found in Lea’s “Paillettes – Decoro Camelia,” Naxos’ “Vanity” and Marca Corona’s “Tropical” are always in vogue. Other fresh florals include: Francesco De Maio’s “Fiori Scuri,” Ceramica Vietri Antico’s “Giochi d’Acqua” and Ce.Vi’s “CEVI Edizioni.” There are many great examples of damask such as Fioranese’s “Nu Travertine.” For a modern twist, the decor can also be selected with a pixilated effect. Gambarelli’s “Ritmo” offers a similar damask design, but with a metallic finish. From modern to mid-century, “Joe,” a new collection from Monina by Tagina, was triple-fired to give it an antique look.
Tile As ArtCeramic tile is taking on a new art form as manufacturers are taking inspiration from classic paintings, drawings, photographs and more. Mosaico+ offers large-scale customized murals and photographs recreated in 4mm thick mosaic tile. Ceramica di Treviso named its new collection after the iconic symbolist artist Gustav Klimt. The hand-painted mosaics feature elegant gold and colored decorations in Klimt’s signature style. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s original New York City studio, “The Factory” by Settecento is a hand-made collection of ceramic tile art, with compositional pieces that depict famous movie stars and musicians, as well as iconic landmarks. Also notable are Viva’s “Art Deco” series and Cottovento’s “Gocce d’Acqua” and “Calligrafie” collections.
These trends highlight the importance of continued research, development and innovation. As pioneers of the monocottura (single-fired) tile and - more recently - porcelain technology, architects, designers and consumers alike can look at the proven track record of Ceramic Tiles of Italy manufacturers and their immediate reaction to any and all market needs.
For more information on Ceramic Tiles of Italy, visit their gateway www.italiantiles.com.