The 2018 Tile Competition Winners announced | by Kristin Coleman

Now in its 25th year, the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition – the longest-running award program of its kind – is proud to announce seven outstanding projects that capture the competition’s goal of honoring the innovative use of Italian tile in North American architecture and design. Sponsored by Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) and the Italian Trade Agency, the competition attracted a large number of high-quality submissions in four categories: residential, commercial, institutional for built projects; and a new student category, created to celebrate imaginative concepts using Italian tile. An international jury of design industry experts reviewed and evaluated the projects, ultimately selecting four winners and three honorable mentions among the steep competition.

Past winners of the Tile Competition represent some of the most prestigious firms from around the world, including Yabu Pushelberg and Bernard Tschumi to Pritzker Prize–winning architects like Renzo Piano. Joining these winners, the 2018 recipients will be announced during the Ceramics of Italy International Press Conference at Coverings. Taking place on Wednesday,  May  9  (4-5pm) in Room  B208, the winners will be in attendance to accept their award and speak about their project and the essential use of Italian tile. The prize package for the winning firms will include a prize of $3,000 as well as an all-expenses-paid, CEU-accredited trip to Bologna, Italy to attend Cersaie – the world’s largest exhibition of ceramic tile and sanitaryware – as part of a VIP delegation of specifiers and journalists. Contractors and distributors involved in each winning project will also be awarded a cash prize for their valued contribution.

To commemorate this historic milestone, Ceramics of Italy has created a film honoring the past, present and future of the competition. Debuting at Coverings, Timeless  Tiles:  The  Italian  Legacy is directed by Francesca Molteni and architectural  historian Fulvio Irace who provide an insightful retrospective of 25 years of North American architecture and design using Italian ceramics. The film features projects and interviews from notable architects from  across  Canada and the United States and tells the story of the competition from its inception in 1994 to present day. The four winners of this year’s competition will also participate in a discussion with Edie Cohen, Deputy Editor at Interior Design, at Coverings called Ceramics of Italy Celebrates 25 Years of Design. Taking place on Wednesday, May 9 (12:30pm) in Room B401, the panel will discuss Italian tile in the context of design and architecture in North America as well as the winners’ professional work.

Firm: Studio Libeskind
Project: Sapphire
Location: Berlin, Germany
Tile Manufacturer: Casalgrande Padana
Distributor: Casalgrande Padana
Contractor: Medicke Metallbau GmbH, NL Berlin

The Sapphire project involved building 73 desirable, 1-4 bedroom apartments on a plot less than half an acre, whilst promoting new technologies and sustainability. One of the most important design elements were the tiles used to cover 2,600 sq. m. of the building’s exterior. The three dimensional, geometric, patterned stoneware tile was a signature design feature for this project. Designed by Daniel Libeskind for Casalgrande Padana, the Fractile tiles are technologically advanced to self-clean and aid in air purification. The tiles were also used on the balcony wall creating a continuous surface extending from the building’s façade. Around 3,600 tiles were used in the project. The Fractile series continues on the building’s interior, through the bathrooms, resulting in a vibrant metallic finish for the floors and the shower walls.

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Firm: Kay Green Design
Project: Venetian Isle Clubhouse
Location: Windermere, FL
Tile Manufacturer: Floor Gres, Ergon, Marca Corona
Distributor: Ceramic Technics
Contractor: Martin’s Flooring

The Venetian Isle Clubhouse is a multi-family community clubhouse in Windermere, Florida that is an elegant entertaining space for all ages. Tiles from Floor Gres and Ergon were used throughout the space due to their high quality, yet resilient surfacing. The  project  was   inspired by the city of Venice, therefore Italian tile was naturally the most authentic choice. The designer also felt confident that  tile from Italian companies would ensure a  high  level  of  quality and aesthetic  that she was seeking for the project. Floor Gres’s Floor Tech tiles were used as the main overall floor tile while Marca Corona’s Terra collection was used for the vanity wall in the restroom and Ergon Elegance Engineered Stone was used as a floor mosaic.

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Firm: Ziger/Snead Architects
Project: Baltimore Slate House
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Tile Manufacturer: Imola Ceramica
Distributor: Conestoga Tile
Contractor: Custom Concepts by Greenwalt
Setting Materials: Mapei


The Slate House is a contemporary retreat that respects nature and the legacy of the vast and densely wooded site. The 7,000 sq ft building was destroyed by a recent house fire, however the design team set out to reconnect the site to the existing contextual environment. The design embodies an archetypal gable form, a geometric extrusion that is both reductive and minimal that yields cathedral ceilings. Tiles from Imola Ceramica Concrete Project were used for all of the flooring throughout the home. It was chosen due to the seamlessly transitional ability to use same product inside and outside and support the  architectural vision to blur the interior and exterior spaces. Italian tile was selected due to its quality and the large format size options which were needed for the design of this private home.

Firm: DI Group
Project: Norwich
Location: West Hollywood, CA
Tile Manufacturer: Refin
Distributor: DI Group
Contractor: Darmont Construction Corporation

The Norwich proiect is a contemporary family home in West Hollywood, California, made up of open communal spaces ideal for entertaining and family life. With lots of windows allowing for natural light throughout the space, light colored neutral tiles were used to reflect the light and translate the openness of the interior across the flooring. Three tile collections from Refin (District, Larix and Barrique) were used in the interior and exterior of the home demonstrating the versatile properties of Italian tile.

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Firm: ZAS Architects + Interior
Project: Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence at York University
Location: North York, Ontario
Tile Manufacturer: ABK
Distributor: Division 9
Contractor: Gem Campbell Terrazzo & Tile Inc.
Setting Materials: Mapei

For the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence at York University, the client wanted to demonstrate sustainable building practices, while utilizing the advantages of an existing campus energy system. The project has been registered with the CaGBC and has targeted LEED Gold certification along with Toronto Green Standard Tier 2. ABK Downtown tiles were used on the ground floor, throughout the corridors and in the social spaces with Mapei products completing the space as the setting materials. Tiles were also installed in assembly and exhibition spaces, as well as the student café and the orientation room. Although polished concrete was considered for the project, porcelain tile was chosen in the end due to its durability, low porosity and stain resistant properties. Italian tile provided a clean, simple and contemporary look matching that of natural concrete but captured tonal and pattern variation achieved through the latest technology.

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Firm: O’Brien & Keane
Project: Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Tile Manufacturer: Provenza, Ergon
Distributor: Architectural Ceramics
Contractor: David Allen Company
Setting Materials: Mapei

The design for the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral builds on the heritage of classical sacred architecture arranged in a cruciform layout, with the main axis of the building placed in an east to west orientation. The building is approximately 43,000 square feet and has a seating capacity of over 2,000 people. The main building announces the design theme and introduces classical order. The client wanted to focus on environmentally conscious and resilient materials for the project, therefore Italian porcelain tile was chosen as an ideal material for sustainable building. Beautiful tiles from Provenza Q-Stone as well as Ergon’s Silverstone and Back2Back collections were used on the floor throughout the Nave, Transepts and Narthe. Additional benefits of tile that were a consideration when selecting a flooring material were the low water absorption due to its compact and non-porous structure.

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Entrant: Raquel Raney and Brennan Broome
University Name: Florida International University
Declared Major: Interior Architecture
Project: Dover Street Market
Location: Miami, FL
Tile Manufacturer: Atlas Concorde, Ceramica Vogue, Ornamenta

The Dover Street Market offers an environment where the classic, elegance of art and fashion collide with an industrial aesthetic. The use of ceramic and porcelain tile, as pictured in the renderings, allows for the desired aesthetic to be achieved, while using cost-effective and environmentally-friendly materials that will hold their integrity for many years. The variety of colors, patterns and textures of ceramic tiles, create endless opportunities for juxtaposition of the industrial-like materials with polished, sophisticated surfaces. A mix of collections from Atlas Concorde, Ceramica Vogue and Ornamenta were selected to complement the interior design. Due to its consistency and composition, tile is one of the most durable floor materials and lasts much longer than traditional glazed tile, making it a great selection for a high traffic retail store.

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May 2018