Cersaie, the annual international exhibition ofceramic tileand bathroom furnishings, had yet another successful year, drawing in nearly 101,000 visitors to the Bologna Exhibition Center in Bologna, Italy, for its 32nd edition. The show, held from September 22 to 26, saw an increase in exhibitors, international attendees, unique visitors and journalists — demonstrating how the tile industry is continuously growing and expanding.

For the first year, Cersaie opened its doors up to exhibitors of marble, natural wood and stone — introducing an array of new flooring and wall products to industry professionals from around the world. The show drew in 45 more exhibitors than last year and attracted visitors from three new foreign countries, contributing to the total number of international attendees, which represented almost half of this year’s visitors.

During the five-day show, there were a lot of things to see from the hundreds of tile exhibitors that were dispersed throughout 10 of the 21 halls that comprise the Bologna Exhibition Center. Some of the returning tile trends that TILE saw at this year’s show included the popular wood and stone looks, which have become more realistic and detailed, along with colorful, glossy mosaics. Some new trends that were unveiled included graphic- and pop art-inspired tiles, some of which were based off of stories or cartoons, geometric-shaped tiles, three-dimensional tiles and ultra large-format slabs with considerable thicknesses and ultra-thin thicknesses.

Expanding on a popular trend

When walking around the packed halls of the Bologna Exhibition Center, it was apparent that the stone- and wood-look tiles are still popular trends that are here to stay, since many companies have been expanding upon their lines with these looks — adding more sizes, interpretations and even textures. La Fabbrica Ceramiche, known for its porcelain tiles made exclusively in Italy, furthered its offerings of stone-look tiles with “Astra,” a collection inspired by onyx that utilizes inkjet technology to replicate the look of natural materials. Incorporating nine different stone looks, the collection is available in seven colors — Selenite, Perla, Giada, Turchese, Turchese Fiorito, Ambra and Ambra Fiorito — and four sizes. “Astra” also offers special sizes for mosaics and decorative pieces, and is applicable on floors and walls in residential and commercial areas.

La Fabbrica Ceramiche also continued the popular wood-look tile trend with its “Amazon” collection, offered in three sizes (one of which is only applicable for outdoors) and five colors. This distressed wood look is so realistic looking that, without touching it, could be mistaken as natural wood — especially since the patterning on every single tile is different. “Amazon” is also the company’s only collection to offer 20-mm-thick tiles, which is considerably thicker than that of regular tile — another new trend that TILE observed at this year’s show.

Ceramica Sant’Agostino’s porcelain tile collection, “Blendart,” also embraces the distressed wood look in a more contemporary fashion, incorporating a painting effect where it looks like paint is smeared atop of the wood. The collection, offered in five colors and sizes, is applicable on floors and walls in residential and commercial settings; one of its sizes, 40 x 120 inches, is also available in a 20-mm-thick format.

Graphics and pop art

Most companies have jumped on the innovative bandwagon to try and develop tiles that appeal to the modern audience, which incorporate everything from pictures of plants to company logos and cartoon characters. Some companies have even ventured out to collaborate with artists and designers to bring a more intimate touch to each of their products.

Ornamenta’s “Artwork” porcelain tile collection integrates pop art-inspired designs which mimic the look of natural marble, brick and wood. Available in a 24- x 24-inch format and a variety of colors, the collection is applicable on both floors and walls.

The relatively new Italian company, 41zero42, is constantly focused on the future and dedicated to innovative practices. Its new porcelain tile collection, “Paper 41,” incorporates a variety of contemporary frescos to create five different “stories” or designs — Elsa (inspired by a famous Italian writer), Karl, Jane, Dario and Lola. Applicable for both walls and floors, each “story” is available in two standard sizes — 20 x 20 and 20 x 40 inches — along with a variety of different sizes exclusive to each. The collection is also offered in an ultra-thin format, with a thickness of only 3 mm. “This is our vision of true luxury,” said company representative, Antonello DaLeonardo. “We tried to gain inspiration from the 70s atmosphere with touches of gold.”

Ceramica Bardelli, known for its handmade ceramic tiles, collaborated with the well-known San Francisco photographer, Robert Dawson, to create several new tile collections that have a more personal touch to them. “Blue Willow” and “Red Willow” are two of the new collections — which only differ according to color — that incorporate 12 of Dawson’s drawings, which are all done by hand; no machines are used. The tiles, offered in a 20- x 20-cm format, are glossy and matte white, and can be purchased with or without the designs on them. “The designs are based off of a story — a Chinese myth,” said Carlotta Villa, public relations representative. “We work with a lot of designers to create collections, and this is our latest collaboration.”

Venturing into geometric shapes

One of the newest trends that TILE saw from a variety of companies this year was the geometric-shaped tiles, applicable for both floors and walls. Many of these tiles integrated different designs and offered the ability to mix and match the tiles to essentially create large mosaic-like designs, or in some cases, incorporated cutouts in the tiles so that smaller, different-colored tiles could be substituted to create extremely customized designs.

Ornamenta® by gammadue, a leading manufacturer of customized high-tech ceramics, debuted a new gres porcelain and glass tile collection, “Core,” which incorporates three sizes of tile in the shapes of hexagons, triangles and trapezoids, which can be combined in countless ways to create an array of different shapes and designs. All of the tiles in this collection are 10-mm-thick, have a frosted glass look and are available in four colors.

FAP Ceramiche’s “Firenze” collection is a full-body colored porcelain floor tile collection that embraces the hexagonal shape, incorporating rustic colors and neutral colors with designs. Inspired by the traditional floor tiles in Florence — hence the name “Firenze” — the tiles are available in a 21.6- x 25-cm format and eight colors — Firenze Cuoio, Firenze Tabacco, Firenze Dorato, Firenze Nero, Firenze Grigio, Firenze Bianco, Firenze Deco beige and Firenze Deco grey. FAP’s “Boston” gres porcelain tile collection, applicable only on walls, also includes some hexagonal shapes in much smaller sizes to give a mosaic-like appearance.

Created to offer endless design possibilities, Mirage’s “Xgone” ceramic tile collection also incorporates various sizes of hexagonal shapes that can be mixed, matched and even interlocked. The collection is offered in five sizes — 15, 30 and three 60 cm sizes (two of which have different-sized hexagonal cutouts at the top right) — two decorative pieces, which incorporate lines and dots, and nine colors. The tiles are applicable on both floors and walls in commercial and residential areas, and are a true representation at innovation at its finest.

Large-format slabs with varying thicknesses

“The bigger, the better” couldn’t be a more appropriate phrase for the current interest in ultra large-format slabs, which are becoming more and more popular across the globe. Companies are constantly pushing the limits, trying to develop the largest and thinnest, or thickest, slabs on the market — an idea that was apparent at this year’s show.

Florim, a technological pioneer, introduced its “Oversize magnUm®” porcelain tile collection with the largest tiles available in the industry — 320 x 160 cm. Capable of cutting any shape and size of tile, Florim’s “Oversize magnUm” collection is also available in three other standard sizes, all of which have a 6 mm thickness and are applicable on countertops, floors and walls. The tiles mimic looks of cement, marble and wood, with smooth and textural finishes, and have the same technical features as that of 10-mm-thick tiles. “This is the perfect product for the U.S.,” said Andrea Finozzi, North American sales representative.

La Fabbrica Ceramiche also introduced tiles in a 320- x 160-cm format, available in the company’s newly introduced “Agora” collection, which includes 6-mm-thick tiles offered in five colors that are applicable on both walls and floors in interior and exterior settings. “[These tiles] are twice as thick as regular tile,” said Luca Marzolla, area manager. “You can dry lay them outside, so they’re replacing natural stone as an outdoor paver.”

One of the leaders in innovation, the Del Conca Group, introduced a porcelain tile collection with large-format slabs in both ultra-thin and ultra-thick thicknesses. The “Dogma” collection, developed for interior flooring, is inspired by natural stone and offered in 10 and 20 mm thicknesses. The tiles in this collection are available in a variety of colors and sizes — the largest being 60 x 120 inches — and mimic the effect of old cement factories to give a post-industrial allure to contemporary interiors. “There’s a demand for this [collection] in the U.S., and one of the benefits is that it’s offered in many colors that stone isn’t,” said Paolo Mularoni, president of Del Conca.

Overall, Cersaie 2014 had a lot to offer from every part of the world. Between all of the technological advancements and design possibilities, there is surely a product to offer for every type of project, and it’ll be interesting to see them when they make their debut in the U.S.