2018-19 Fall Winter Italian Tile Trend Report | by Kristin Coleman
There are a handful of events that set the stage for defining the world of design each year. Cersaie – the international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings – is one such tradeshow, where over 110,000 designers, installers, and buyers travel to Bologna, Italy each September to learn about cutting edge products and technologies in the tile industry. These are seven of the biggest tile trends as seen in the hundreds of new collections from Ceramics of Italy member manufacturers at the 36th edition of Cersaie.
For years, Italian tile manufacturers have been expanding the definition of a product, offering specifiers a whole suite of surfacing tools around a single idea or design. At first, it was a range of colors, finishes, and sizes as well as complementing decors and trims. Now, with continued investment in production equipment, many companies are expanding their range of thicknesses – and thus applications – with tiles ranging from 3-30mm including a new 12mm thick porcelain tile specifically designed for kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, tables and outdoor kitchens.
From three-dimensional tiles that look like giant Lego bricks (Marca Corona Bold) to popular cartoons illustrated on ceramic (Del Conca Felix the Cat), when projects call for playfulness, Italian tile answers in full. Companies are continuously experimenting with color, size and patterns to create one-of-a-kind surfacing for architects and designers. They also offer tailor made solutions.
Moving beyond common varieties of stone like carrara, statuario, and travertine, Italian tile producers are scouting quarries throughout the world to find obscure marble full of color and character or digitally manipulating the look of natural stone to create something that is literally out-of-this-world.
Whether soft or electric, blue is one of the hottest hues in tile design this year, offering a revitalizing pop of color to a variety of interiors. Some, like Cedit’s Rilievi sculptural ceramic wallcoverings, are the kind of hyper blue associated with contemporary artists Yves Klein and Frida Kahlo. Others conjure the feeling of vacation and the shallow teal waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Italians are known for their rich artistic heritage, which are now rendered on big porcelain slabs with minimal grout lines to create the alluring effect of wallpaper with the technical benefits of ceramic. In fact, some companies are even marketing their products as ceramic wallpaper, offering an expansive catalog of patterns digitally printed on tiles up to 5.25’x10′.
This year, it wasn’t just the patterns and sizes that impressed with their seemingly endless variety and sense of inventiveness. Tile producers have completely upped the ante in terms of surface design, which can be seen in dozens of awe-inspiring, new finishes and textures designed for aesthetics as well as functionality. There are collections that artfully demonstrate this trend as well as ceramic tiles’ chameleon capabilities, conjuring for instance oiled wood planks with a hand planed surface or whose marble design and satin finish looks like an ancient European church floor.
From ancient forms and 18th century patterns to tiles inspired by charming places seemingly stuck in time, Italian tile manufacturers are finding creative ways to make the old feel new again. Mixed and matched patterns evoke the imagery and vibrant colors of Italy’s most famous and beloved territories, resemble 1950’s-style wallpaper, recall traditional terracotta ware. Designed with nostalgic sentiments, each of these collections combine the aesthetic and cultural qualities of the past with the technological innovations of today.
More so than ever before, this year’s Cersaie show demonstrated that Italian tile manufacturers lead the industry in digital manufacturing, sustainability, and of course, design – continuously pushing the boundaries to ensure that they are always providing cutting edge products of the highest quality.
Many of these and other new tile lines available in the U.S. market will be showcased at Coverings – North America’s preeminent event for the ceramic tile industry – taking place April 9-12, 2019 in Orlando, Florida.
The next edition of Cersaie – a must for tile lovers from all over the world – is scheduled for September 23-27, 2019 in Bologna, Italy.