Spain has unveiled an optimistic new creative message for the coming decade, an inspiration for an industry in the recovery phase of a global recession.
With “Yes, We Choose Spanish Ceramic,” the all-important power of choice is being placed back in the hands of the customer. Four sub-slogans provide subtle affirmation and reasons why customers should demand a better quality value choice.
The four sub-slogans each convey the positive message Spanish tiles bring to the table. They describe the often concealed value of quality, durability, performance, fashion and social responsibility.
- Not Only Design: Through market research, trend reporting and innovation, ASCER members provide leadership in the field of aesthetics. But while it is the form, texture and color of tile that we relate to initially, ceramics have so much more to offer in addition to artistic creativity.
- All Power to Technology: Using cutting-edge technology allows for technical and aesthetic improvements at an exponential rate. We are in the technological age and incorporation of state-of-the-art processes and systems keeps Spanish manufacturers at the forefront of quality production.
- It’s Time for Innovation: In rebuilding the global marketplace, doing what worked before will not be good enough. Continuous research, development and testing are imperative in order to discover new levels of efficiency and develop even better industry policy and products. New creative avenues will find fertile soil in the eventual growth period to come.
- Now… Ecology: Environmental stewardship in manufacturing. The development of performance based materials and solutions. This is the gauge Spanish manufacturers use to measure the evolution and forward progress of the industry. Now is the time for ecology to be top of mind for all socially responsible participants.
ColorThree main trends were pervasively demonstrated by most manufacturers in their new collections: powerful reds, high-contrast black and white and whimsical, lively colors.
Strong saturated tones such as reds, royal purple, burnt sienna, midnight blue or deep chartreuse round out a trend in power colors. These collections were most often paired with linear and neutral whites, creams and soft greys to provide a high-contrast punch. Reds dominated this style with every tone from fiery orange-reds to deep merlot. Red is a color with a range of connotations in many cultures around the world, usually representing fire, passion or power.
High contrast black and white collections were another almost universally embraced direction in ceramics this year. This prevalence of high contrast is a divergence from the minimalist style emphasized from the Bauhaus movement or the style of 20s Hollywood glam. These collections utilize texture and geometry to optimize light and shadow, bringing depth and nuances of shade to their compositions. Simple geometries like spheres or natural textures of sand dunes bring with them a connection to nature.
Whimsical, lively palettes utilized softened colors of sky blue, orange, lilac and rose to bring a feeling of optimism and childlike peace of mind. These compositions garnered some sophistication with highly stylized graphical interpretations of classic motifs and floral patterns. The message of these programs: not taking ourselves too seriously, having a little fun with design and lightening the heavy mood that has been prevalent for the past couple years.
Décors & PatternsMicro and macro patterns within the same tile, larger than life designs utilizing multiple tiles and optical illusions were the main trends in decors and accent pieces this year.
Environmental concerns have been and will continue to be top of mind for today’s consumer. Our manufacturers have decided to answer this need by looking to nature for inspiration in textures and patterns. Whole series based on the texture of sand dunes, waves, tree bark and even rain were common this year. Anything that projects a connection to nature and the environment was used to great effect in many of the new collections across all color palettes.
Simple decors with continuous graphic patterns that can be utilized in full feature wall applications or broad multiple tile stripes have taken the place of small accent listels. In many cases the accent pieces are the same size and shape as field tile with the graphics overlaid on the field glazes for ease of integration. Macro motifs with textured micro patterns running over or beneath them are also seen frequently. Stylized nature or classic patterns with a graphic overtone are the most popular screened motifs.
Optical illusions have become more sophisticated this year as technology has advanced. Manufacturers are breathing new life into classics and mod styles while giving our brains a tweak with these mind- bending effects. Dot matrix screens are used, sometimes in metallic glazes to twist our eyes around illusionary 3D corners. Simple geometries optimize light and shadow for a dynamic color palette in a monochrome tile.
TextureTexture is the one unifying trend this year. It is used to great effect, lending nuances of shade and tone through light and shadow play. Ceramics have always been a good medium for textures. Either dry pressed or extruded tile have a great ability to produce many different textures, but something has changed. Digital glaze application has opened a whole new dimension of possibilities. Before digital, a screen had to touch the surface of a tile to apply the glaze, making continuous glazing of a textured material impossible. Digital technology means that dynamic glazing can be applied to any surface texture. This has produced all sorts of new possibilities like antique distressed wood lines and bush-hammered or chiseled stone with the pattern flowing into the deepest nooks and crannies.
SizeIt is impossible today to speak about the trendy sizes of tiles. As technology progresses, all sizes and multiple thicknesses are being produced by many manufacturers. Tiles can be as small as 5/8” x 5/8” and as large as 48” x 48”. Some extruded flexible porcelains are even being produced in eight foot lengths. There is no “standard” format or size anymore; manufacturers have realized that one thing people love about the product is that we can change our minds from inch to inch or foot to foot.
The dimension of thickness popped up on the radar two years ago with the advent of slim tile. As technology becomes more sophisticated, these 3-6mm thickness programs are expanding and new finishes are being offered. Slim formats have a great environmental story because they use fewer resources in every phase of production and transport. However, tile is not just for your floors and walls anymore and slim tile offers a plethora of new applications for ceramics: veneer for cabinetry, furniture tops for desks and tables, acoustical panels for drop ceilings and even self-adhesive tile-on-tile designs.
InnovationCeramics and the added value they provide for sustainable design and healthy buildings will move to much more than floors and walls. Manufacturers are continually supplying new ways to use ceramics. Modular ceramic screening programs for view screens, fencing and many other applications have been created along with new porcelain options for exterior siding. Digital technology offers new horizons as manufacturers harness the full potential of these machines. Higher resolutions of grey scales are possible, and some manufacturers have added white to the mix of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) of traditional printing allowing for even more applications.
Many of the new innovations are focused on environmental design and dynamic solution-based material. Ceramic think-tanks, partnership enterprises between manufacturers and polytechnic universities are creating some of the most innovative products like photo-luminescent glazes that offer energy free lighting after dark. Pre-consumer recycling has always been a part of the manufacturing process, but some leading manufacturers are so good at it they are offering entire collections that contain 80% recycled content. We even have manufacturers that are creating façade tile that cleans the air around the building complete with vegetative panels that make the building more like a part of nature than a detriment to it.
What if there were no limits to the uses for ceramic tile? This year’s collections from our top manufacturers are challenging today’s consumer with this possibility. They have not given us something monumentally different from what the industry saw last year but incrementally better in every possible area. A gauntlet has been thrown down, making it impossible to ignore the benefits that quality ceramics bring to the table in terms of health, safety, sustainability, fashion, design and environmentally friendly manufacturing.
There is a power in choice. In tough times, you can search out the lowest common denominator and be tempted to settle for fair quality at a great price. Instead, we believe today’s consumer will demand a high quality product at a fair price.