Bold, beautiful, and slightly bonkers

Bold, beautiful, and slightly bonkers

November 2019

Cersaie 2019: a personal review by Peter Vann, Director, Ceramique Internationale.

Cersaie never disappoints when it comes to innovation and trends – we should know after 35 years of consecutive attendance - and 2019 was no different.

In fact, it could be argued, that some manufacturers appeared to have taken leave of their senses this year. There was no doubt that it was the most ‘out there’ show for several years, with colour, textures and patterns really grabbing the attention.

Of course, the grey arena that has continued to dominate in recent times, along with the vast array of white marbles and wood effects were still prominent – with some new twists. Azteca were amongst many who showcased a number of what is best described as “dramatic” new marble collections, which featured accents of gold and silver – including the Calacatta Gold and Silver ranges and the stunning Nebula collection featuring black marble tiles with hints of gold and even a gold leaf patterned decorative tile.

But it was the colours and patterns, in varying forms, that caught our eye. Firstly, the use of colour on smaller format tiles, whether repeating patterns, plain or the latest glazing effect trend – Zellige – which is a replication of the traditional Moroccan terracotta tile, boasting non-uniform, worn-out colour and surface variations.

‘Real’ zellige tiles would certainly not be a choice for a perfectionist who is looking for a standardised finish as they can be difficult to fit and clean, but the replica ceramic tiles now being produced by manufacturers such as Italian giant Marazzi offer the best of both worlds. Marazzi’s collection – funnily enough called Zellige – offers 12 shades which all boast a technologically clever glaze that accurately replicates the worn finish, with visible variations in tone and colours that are strongly vibrant, and available in a 10 x 10 cm format.

And the return to these smaller square tiles was also seen widely at the show. Historically in the UK four and six inch square tiles were almost standard – until the emergence of brick shapes – so it is interesting, and welcome, to see the return of these petite tiles, now being used in tandem with modern printing technology and production techniques to give them a new lease of life.

At the other end of the sizing scale was another new trend – the production of ‘artwork’ tiles. Exhibited as larger (and enormous) formats – from 60 x 120cm right through to 1.6 x 2.8 metres – with patterns that are more usually found on wallpaper, these panel tiles were prominent across the stands of a number of major manufacturers. They ranged from tropical prints, to abstract shapes and panelling effects.

In fact, Sartoria, part of Italian manufacturer Terratinta, describes its Scenari collection as ceramic wallpaper. Designs include a stunning flamingo print, one featuring parrots and an array of exotic plants and foliage – all of which would definitely make a statement, depending on what you want to say!

Casalgrande Padana actually launched its first foray into this ‘ceramic wallpaper’ arena at Cersaie 2018 – with its Limpha collection of porcelain stoneware that took inspiration from climbing plants. This year it has expanded its collection with one that features Coral Roses and another that perfectly replicates the bark of a tree.

This collection also reflects another trend seen at this year’s show for products that have wider application scopes and offer built-in safety in the shape of anti-slip technology. The Limpha collection has a range of exclusive technical features - frost, abrasion and wear-resistance, light fastness, and flexural strength - which make it suitable for interiors and exteriors, new buildings and restorations alike. The slabs measure 1,200 by 2,400mm and have the ability to reduce air pollution and be easily cleaned by rainwater due to their superhydrophilic surface and Bios Self-Cleaning® technology created in a partnership between the Casalgrande Padana Research Centre and leading sanitaryware manufacturer Toto.

Marazzi used the show to launch its new technology – StepWise – which introduces the characteristics of high anti-slip ratings COMBINED with (and this is the clever bit) being very easy to clean – two opposing features until now! And the technology can be used on a much wider variety of designs and applications – something which is becoming increasingly important in this age of the ‘blame game’ where personal liability for others is on the rise with designers and specifiers often asking about compliance before even considering viewing a sample.

Patterns and texture look set to play key roles in the coming year. The ever-popular encaustic style had new life breathed into it with the addition of new colour ways. The new 1741 collection by Marca Corona – Paprica – moves encaustic style forward by adding contemporary colours and creative patterns. This collection of hexagonal porcelain floor and wall tiles in two palettes – three elegant neutral greys with accents of blue, green and three bolder shades of red, blue and mustard – is really versatile.

As technology has progressed texture has become a more dominant theme over the last few years and Cersaie 2019 saw the next level of products come to the fore with more exaggerated relief tiles on show.

Realonda launched a number of relief collections all offering something a little different. Iguazu features a range of neutral colours and finishes, with innovation in the technology for production and printing of split-face stone effects that bring a crisper and sharper level of relief detailing, while the Pietra combines stone texture with metallics, replicating copper, zinc and iron finishes in striking 21 x 63 cm oblong tiles.

Metallic feature-wall decorative tiles, with high visual impact included the very contemporary Eclipse (an inverted half-moon effect) and the more traditional Tin Tile (embossed scroll designs) ranges to provide stunning accompaniments.  

In addition to the growth in texture is the trend for combining different finishes and materials, with many stands mingling metallics, marble and wood in one roomset.

Returning to the subject of colour – and without wishing to sound like a Chelsea fan – it seems that for the next year Blue is the Colour. From pale through to strong and vibrant shades, blue was the standout colour of the show for us in all areas – although petal pinks and subtle purples were also in strong evidence.  Manufacturers Equipe and Fabresa both launched very ‘pretty’ ranges of small format and oblongs in a range of soft pastel colours – including a cheerful washed Yellow!

But, despite the prevalence of these colours, if Cersaie 2019 taught us anything it is that bold and bonkers could be the way forward.

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