Feria Valencia Centre in Valencia, Spain, recently set the stage for eye-catching displays of the newest and most innovative tile products on today’s market. Once again, the convention center hostedCevisama, the annual international ceramic tileexhibition which celebrated 31 years with this edition. The show — held from February 5 to 8 — attracted visitors from around the world to view the latest product introductions.

Overall, there seemed to be a positive vibe among U.S. export managers from some of the leading Spanish tile manufacturers. On average, the U.S. comprises between 5 to 7% of the market for many of these companies. The majority of tile products are being sold on the East Coast, and manufacturers are seeing a gradual resurgence in the market.

“We see a little picking up,” said Jake Pareo, U.S. Area Manager for Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Grespania. “We have had some of our clients say that they are seeing some signs of recovery. If they are happy, we are happy.”

Oscar Guerrero, Export Area Manager for Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Azulev shared similar thoughts. “Business is getting better slowly,” he said. “We are pretty well supplied on the East Coast and in Texas and Florida. We also have a good presence in Chicago. We have a new agent there who is working on moving into the Midwest.”

Among Azulev’s new tile lines being introduced in the U.S. is the Vanity Collection — featuring 12- x 36-inch porcelain wall tiles in black, white, red and gold. The tiles have subtle patterns giving them a hint of texture and other tiles in the line feature imagery that can create an accent wall. “We are having success with Vanity in the U.S — even with the red, which is a surprise,” said Guerrero. “Mostly on the East and West Coast, and some in Chicago.”

Advances in technology

Azulev is just one of the numerous tile manufacturers who are utilizing digital technology to produce decorative tile with customized designs. Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Ceracasa has always led the pack when it comes to innovation.  It was among the first to produce custom tile that can create unique installations with its Emotile. Using high-quality inkjet printing, Ceracasa can replicate any photograph or vision. Emotile, which is produced with an ecological and sustainable process, can be used for floors and walls in both interior and exterior settings. Most recently, Emotile was used for the Visitor Center at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, FL, and at one of Google’s offices.

In addition to Emotile, Ceracasa was also showcasing its Absolute Collection — featuring brilliant colors with a shiny finish that resemble the look of onyx. The porcelain tile is not only appropriate for floor and wall applications, but can also create decorative wall pieces when used with a bookmatched look.

“More and more people are asking for high-gloss products,” said Antonio Cucala Ramos, Ceracasa Area Manager. “Another tendency is that people want more elongated and thinner tile, such as 20 x 40 inches.”

Another tile manufacturer that always pushes the envelope is Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Natucer. Several years ago, the company introduced its Bamboo Collection — consisting of long, circular, three-dimensional ceramic pieces. This year, Natucer added a long rectangular piece to the product line, which can be used to build architectural elements such as tables and benches.

The manufacturer’s Kubik Collection also caught the eye of many visitors. The product line, which can be employed for both floor and wall applications, offers a three-dimensional look with flat tile.

Mimicking natural materials

The evolution of technology has also resulted in many refined textures and seemingly limitless shapes, sizes and colors. Tile products today have a great deal of depth and authenticity to them.

In particular, wood-look tile has been continuing its momentum, and after walking the halls of Cevisama 2013, it is evident that this style continues its rapid growth in popularity. With the benefits of advanced technology, the grain and knots on the tile’s surface project a truly authentic appearance.

And this year, tile manufacturers are taking it a step further. They not only offer traditional wood-look collections, but many also now have lines reflecting distressed wood and more avant-garde looks.

Sonar — available from Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Aparici — is a line resembling distressed wood with subtle underlying tones of blue. According to the company’s area manager, Carlos Aparici, the product is faring well in the U.S.

Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Plaza Ceramicas put a spin on its Ecowood series —   a rustic soft wood look available in four different sizes and three colors that it introduced last year. The company recently launched a line with mixed distressed colors.

“Plaza was always more traditional, and now we are trying to go a little riskier,” explained Pablo Iglesias, the company’s area sales manager. “The market is starting to be more comfortable with [the distressed look]. We are working more in the Northeast [in the U.S.] and Canada is doing fantastic.”

Inkjet technology is also allowing for stone-look tile collections to appear more real. Tile surfaces show veining and varying shades of color that reflect the look of materials such as marble, travertine, slate and even Bluestone. And with the inkjet, no two tiles are the same — just like natural stone.

Another observation made while strolling Cevisama’s large exhibition halls is that vintage and “worn” tile is also a current trend in tile design. Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Peronda prominently displayed its FS Collection, which has a warm Old World vintage appearance that works for both floor and wall applications. The tiles have a tumbled aged aesthetic that make them appear as if they are centuries old.

Cevisama 2013 Product Review : See Slideshow