Similar to fashion, cars, or furniture, the Italian tile industry is known as a world leader in design and technology and stands out for its high-quality craftsmanship and cutting edge appeal. After finishing a series of spring tradeshows in the U.S. including Coverings, AIA and ICFF, it’s clear that Italian ceramic tile manufacturers are creating not only new design opportunities through visually striking products but also added value with fully expanded collections. From a graphic perspective, graffiti-inspired tiles and bold colors are popping up everywhere. However, collections that bring architectural fluidity to a project – from tiles that can be used for indoor and outdoor environments to full ceramic systems and a full range of color options – are also an important emerging trend.
Inside & OutSeasoned designers know how to create the illusion of space through the use of color, material and other tricks of the trade. One example of producing a more spacious feel is cladding the floor inside and out with the same material. On an industry scale, Italian tile companies are helping designers achieve this by developing collections with a wide range of surface options – from natural and smooth for indoor to rough or ribbed for outdoor. This is particularly useful in residential or hospitality settings where rooms have both interior and exterior areas.
This indoor/outdoor trend comes just in time for spring renovations. Laminam’s large format (1m x 3m) “Collection” tiles are ideal for covering interior and exterior surfaces. Marazzi’s new “EvolutionStone” collection features large porcelain tiles that can be laid seamlessly between indoor and outdoor environments and in both residential and commercial contexts. Monocibec’s sustainable “Ontario” collection sports a very convincing wood-look and is available with a GRIP or ribbed GRIP finish featuring an R-11 non-slip surface. Ascot’s “Oldwood” and Sadon’s “Woodland” are two more faux wood tiles that have an exterior version for greater flexibility. Imola’s “Colosseum,” Tagina’s “Wire,” Emilceramica’s “Anthology” and Del Conca’s “Nat” and “Docet” collections are also appropriate for indoor and outdoor settings.
Soft to the TouchAnother growing trend this spring is the emergence of tiles with an ultra-soft finish. The aptly named “Velvet” tile by Casa Dolce Casa may look like a stone from Venice but feels like its namesake. Similarly, “Velvet Stone” by ABK and “Crystal” by Rondine just beg to be touched. Meanwhile, Sant’Agostino’s “S.Wood” tile features a smooth, natural touch and low impact on the environment since the company offsets all of its CO2 emissions. In addition, Coem’s sandstone-inspired “Pietra Serena” tile is available in a “silk” version.
UrbanThroughout modern history, counter-culture has been a source of inspiration for all factions of the creative community. Now Italian companies, too, are turning to the streets with a new crop of graffiti- and concrete-inspired tile collections. From the monochromatic shades and rough-hewn textures of raw cement to the asymmetrical and multi-layered graphics found in street art, the urban look is everywhere.
Refin meticulously studied industrial areas to create its “Graffiti” collection, which reinterprets cement in porcelain stoneware. The large-format “Frisia” tiles from LaFaenza are perfect for minimal-styled lofts with an intriguing cement effect. “Eclipse” by Marca Corona features the industrial charm of cement in 6”x24” tiles. In addition, “Concreta” by Marazzi, “Transit Slim” by Ragno and “Urban Touch” by Fioranese all present a unique spin on concrete.
From a graphic perspective, Mirage introduced two equally bold collections, “Lab_21” and “Oxy,” that feature stenciled patterns, oxidized metals, subway maps and manhole covers. Similarly, Leonardo turns street art into décor with its new “Word Up” tiles. Also of note is DesignTaleStudio’s brand new “Beside” collection designed by Massimiliano Adami. Turning to the tile’s B-side for inspiration, where the “Made in Italy” stamp can be found, Adami glazes the backs of tiles and cuts them up into a random patterns that resembles a patchwork of spray-painted mosaics.
Color Explosion!After the cold winter months, Italian tile manufacturers, like fashion designers, are eager to inject some color into their spring collections. Vogue just added 11 new tones of color to its “Cristalli” collection, which already included a range of 18 colors from pistachio to papaya. LaFaenza’s “Venier” and Cisa “Ume” are available in a range of intense colors that lend personality to any interior. “Tango” by Sicis is a rich combination of bold color, floral motifs and strong geometrics. FAP’s boiserie-inspired “Inspira” line is available in a range of warm, soft hues such as Powder Pink, Dove Grey and Coffee. Part of the charm of Attivissimo’s “Tappeto” terrazzo tiles is the option to choose from 29 proposed colors while Epoca’s “Design Positive” line features 8”x20” tiles in 42 colors, from orange to aquamarine blue. “Area25” by Mosaico+ is impressive not only for its high amount of recycled glass content (95%) but also its range of bright and bold colors. In addition, Francesco de Maio just introduced a hand-made through-body ceramic tile that is available in a multitude of colors while Palagio is offering a range of colorful terracotta tiles suitable for turnkey rainscreen wall cladding facades.
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