Bold, bright and beautiful

Bold, bright and beautiful

March 2020

Joe Simpson explores the trend for richer colours, stronger veining, and more dramatic figuration among the latest generation of marble-effect tiles as manufacturers world-wide really embrace the almost limitless design potential of digital decoration and continuous compaction technology.

After years of relative conservatism, built around classic white Carrara and Statuario, and the contrasting black of Nero Marquina marble-effects, the tile world has embraced the full design potential of this wonderful natural material in the past couple of years.  Bolder colours, dramatic veining, and glorious figuration have all come to the fore; as porcelain tile manufacturers explore the almost limitless potential of digital decoration and continuous pressing technology.

Today the market has moved beyond gold highlights and more dramatic vein patterns, to really embrace the many natural colour inspirations to be found in marbles around the world.  And this is not a trend confined to a few niche high end factories.  One of the most impressive and coherent portfolios of the bold marble effects at the recent Cevisama exhibition was on the Pamesa stand: hardly the first-stop for seekers of avant garde tiling.  If a company as commercially astute and internationally successful as Pamesa feels this is a trend worth exploring, then the UK tile sector should sit up and take notice.  Pamesa has not backed many lame horses during two decades of impressive growth; and the visually stunning display of its CR Lux line in Valencia showed just how much effort has been channelled into this range over the past year.  And the reaction from visitors, expressed in many different languages, was unequivocal.  This brand’s new marble-effects clearly delivered the wow factor in spades; and the visual impact was felt by visitors from Asia, Africa, America, and Australia alike.  

For many UK retailers, marble-effect tiles have long been one of the best sellers, adding elegance and style to any surface.   It was noticeable that at Cevisama this year, marble-effects came in bolder colours, especially blue.  Also prominent were striking metallic veins and large format sizes: real statement tiles.

Of course, Cevisama also featured a lot of beautifully-realised white marble-effects.  One of the most beautiful of the current crop is Calacatta Bellissimo from Fiandre Architectural Surfaces’s Marmi Maximum collection.  It features elegant grey veining that stands out against a white background, and exemplified the meticulous attention to detail typical of Fiandre.  It will bring brightness and elegance to any space and can be used for a wide range of projects, from private residences to public spaces, hotels, and even retail.

The stunning texture of Calacatta Bellissimo can be used to create a host of different moods, while the tile thickness of just 6mm means that it can also be used to create architectural detailing, furniture, etc.   The two finishes available - polished and semi-polished – bring additional prestige to the surfaces.  What’s more, the 2,500 by 1,000mm format, which was recently introduced alongside the 1,000 by 1,000mm sub-format, minimises offcut waste.  The smaller size also means that the products can be used for tall buildings. such as towers and skyscrapers, as they can be transported using simple lifts and goods hoists.  The full range of formats is 3,000 by 1,500, 2,500 by 1,000, 1,500 by 1,500, 1,500 by 750, 1,000 by 1,000, 750 by 750, and 750 by 375mm.

As noted earlier, dramatic marble-effects - with richer colours, enhanced veining, and bolder figuration - was one of the dominant design themes at Cevisama this year.  Typical was the Vivid collection by Aparici.  Used as a floor tile, Vivid White Calacatta polished, set with Stamp polished, makes a bold yet refined statement in a 894.6 by 894.6mm format.  The Stamp design delivers eight different patterns to achieve real impact.  This range showcases the true sophistication of today’s rectified porcelain marble reproductions.  Aparici also brought colour to the party with Vivid Red Louise, and Vivid Lavender Granite, both polished and both available in the same format plus a smaller 595.5 by 595.5mm option.

The floor tiles are complemented by double fired, rectified, white body wall tiles in the same format.  In keeping with the popularity of blue marbles at this year’s show, one of the most striking examples was Vivid Blue Labradorite polished.  Equally appealing was Vivid Green Rainforest polished: and green marbles were another trend at Cevisama.  73 by 595.5mm décor strips add versatility to this range, amplified by the drop-dead gorgeous Blue Labradorite Floret in 297.5 by 995.5mm, and other equally well-chosen bolder hues and decors, including Vivid Ornato.  Combine these with the 297.5 by 995.5mm white options - Vivid White Calacatta, Vivid White Calacatta Floret, and Vivid White Calacatta Breeze – and Aparici delivered a truly striking, yet very adaptable addition, to the marble-effect arena.

If one range really captures the new spirit of adventure in the marble-effect sector, it has to be Apavisa’s Fluid.  The display at Cevisama read like an impressionist art gallery, featuring bold rich colours, impressive swirls, and sheer exuberance.  The company styles this range as “fluid movement … unstoppable force” and the design certainly draws on some of the most flamboyant natural inspirations.  Designs like Fluid Multicolor polished in 1,200 by 1,200mm, Fluid Black polished in 1,200 by 2,600mm, or Fluid Multicolor polished in 900 by 900mm or 600 by 600mm, are among the most eye-catching marble-effect tiles ever created.  Available in 6mm and 7mm, and suitable for wall and floor applications, the range is offered in both polished and natural surface finishes, the latter having an R10 rating.  This is a sparkling addition to the tile firmament.

One of the softest of the blue marbles on show in Valencia, Saphir-R Polished from Les Bijoux d’Arcana by Arcana, is subtly enhanced by a highly polished finish.  It comes in two rectified formats: 790 by 790mm and 593 by 1,193mm, to achieve virtually seamless elegant surfaces. 

The range’s different models have diverse personalities.  When it comes to giving prominence to a specific area, Saphir-R Polished is the obvious option. Inspired by the blue of sapphire jewelery, it provides a strong personality and an intense polished finish to surfaces.  Alabastro-R Polished has powerful orange streaks on a very warm ivory base.   Nagoya-R Blanco Polished features a combination of white base and black stripes to create a delicate finish that can be used for any room of the house.  Antique-R Crema Polished has a very natural appearance, with rich hues and a combination of soft white and gold veins. Wish-R Gold Polished can raise the decorative level of any environment; while Vanity-R Pearl Polished has a subtle vitality with its fine black and white veining set against a grey base.

Delight from Lea Ceramiche offers luxury and seduction: four sophisticated marbles selected from among the finest in the world deliver new tactile sensations, large formats and exquisite decorations.  Delight interprets marble with a new awareness to create a complete collection with a distinct focus on design, a comprehensive stylistic kit created for the interior design of every residential and commercial environment. Slimtech Colors are Marquina Nero, Invisible Light, Venato Bianco, and Calacatta Oro: all 6mm laminated porcelain stoneware in naturale and levigato finishes.  The format options are 600 by 1,200mm, 1,200 by 1,200mm, and 1,200 by 2,600mm. 

The décor options are Butterfly Venato Bianco, Butterfly Calacatta Oro, and Chain Calacatta Oro: 6mm by 1,200 by 2,600mm.  A compositional tableau of Slimtech slabs defines the patterns of Butterfly and Chain; while, like a painting printed on a series of panels, the Delight decors evoke images with a classical style, reinterpreted with a modern vision.  Mosaics and other décor options, complete the collection.

Tau Ceramica’s offering in this crowded arena includes four new products. One is Emporio Calacatta: an amazing range that emulates white marble  in  polished or matt finishes, streaked with grey and golden veins. This spectacular product draws all eyes when used on walls or floors. 

Another example is Breccia.  This comes in a choice of four colours (Silver, Gray, Cream, and Tan) and 600 by 1,200 or 1,200 by 1,200mm formats.  Rounding off the new marble-effect tiles is Avorio Cream.  This comes in a 600 by 1,200mm format in natural or polished finishes and, because no self-respecting marble-effect tile range is complete without a classic marble, Ivory Boticcino in a polished finish.

In Tiffany, a 670 by 340mm range from Gayafores, classical marble is brought up to date, without losing the essential essence of the stone.  The range delivers great sheen and nobility but, at the same time, the grey tones and subtle veining transmit neutrality and exclusiveness.  

Classic marbles are still on trend in interior decoration, so Gayafores’ Aura is a safe bet. With its three formats (320 by 625, 450 by 900 and 600 by 1,200mm, the latter also in a rectified finish), to which is added a 300 by 300mm mosaic, and its shades Calacatta, Onyx, and Crema, Aura is an authentic reinterpretation of the natural material using the latest digital technologies.  The 320 by 625 and 450 by 900mm formats are accompanied by two types of decorations, one in relief with a linear structure (Deco) and the other with a digital material effect based on a set of irregular spikes (Mural).

One of the new ranges from Grespania in the impressive 1,200 by 1,200mm format is Calacatta Gold, available in natural and polished finishes.  This is a distinguished, elegant range that combines the whiteness of Calacatta marble with the warmth of the veins with golden glints.  The range also comes in 600 by 1,200mm format, natural and polished, plus 590 by 590, and 280 by 590mm, in polished only.   

Updated Classic, in which marble is a key element, Grespania offers a novel interpretation of this material with a wide range of marble-effect porcelain tiles (Carrara, Estuario, Marquina, Pulpis, and Hermes).

A new addition to this collection is Nero Ardi, inspired by a compact fine-grained black marble, characterised by golden ochre veining.  The beauty and opulence of its pure black background are enhanced by polishing.  This design is available in 590 by 1,190mm and 780 by 780mm formats with rectified edges.

Cuarzo Reno is the new addition to Grespania’s Marmorea collection. Available in a gloss finish, this ceramic white-body tile comes in 315 by 1,000mm and 300 by 600mm formats.  It is complemented by a series of decorative pieces such as the delicate geometric forms of Prisma, the marked linear relief of Silex and Opalo or the decorative Jade, which draws its inspiration from the Catalan trencadis technique.

As noted earlier, one of the most impressive displays of new marble-effects was on the Pamesa stand, where designs such as CR Lux Danae, Iceberg, Ilaria, and Kionia, all in 1,200 by 1,200mm and 600 by 1,200mm, really caught the eye.  

As the company puts it, “shifting the focus from minimalism to the mighty force of geology makes for an interior design trend guaranteed to get heads turning.”

Dramatic interior is a trend with an essentially neoclassical influence, inspiring spaces with natural marble and stone effects.  Stone hewn from the world’s most prestigious quarries are the origins of this trend, characterised by marble effect designs featuring sophisticated patterns, and bright and beautiful colours which, together with the precious stone effects, will become the focal point of any room.

In an evocation of luxury and elegance, interior design creates dramatically theatrical spaces, applying state-of-the-art technologies and designs with granilla (a granular glaze) to reposition ceramic tiles at the forefront of contemporary interior design and decoration.

Subtle shading, veining, and gloss effects are the hallmarks of eight series that together form Pamesa’s CR Lux collection: the quintessence of the trend defined above.  Two black marble-effect ranges - Canfranc and Iliria - feature designs in the blackest of blacks and purest of whites; Ossola, with its blue and lavender tones recreates the dainty motifs of classic Palissandro marble; in Laurants, all the tradition of Saint Laurants is reflected in fine golden veining set against a darker cacao tone background; Iceberg reflects the purity of white offset by large grey veining interspersed with maroon; Kionia, from the island of Panormus, is a range in shades of aquamarine; and Danae is a range that explores the beauty of agate, where crystalline blue forms a background for golden and brown waves, creating a decorative jewel.

In CR Lux, superb design is combined with cutting-edge technology to deliver stunning visual impacts and clever plays on colour that will look fabulous in any room where wall or floor tiles are a core decorative element.

Marbelous by Vives delivers a choice of realistic and impactful marble-effects in 793 by 1,793mm, 1,193 by 1,193mm, and 593 by 1,193mm formats.  The polished rectified range’s eight décor options are Arue, Tampere, Doney, Verbier, Kiruna, Bukit, Solden, and Merano.  These are all highly commercial versions of a classic surface: taking Vives into a new sector of the commercial tile market with a very strong offer.

Nobile is one of the new on-trend collections developed by Ariana as part of a broader stylistic moodboard built on new material fusions. Nobile is a selection of prestigious marble surfaces that stand out for both their texture and colour, and include both decorative and more sober and elegant versions.

Caesar has recently added new products and finishes to the Project Evolution collection of large porcelain slabs, which combine a focus on style with sophisticated design choices. This combination has created a range incorporating new marble-effects, alongside stone, wood, and concrete simulations, as well as the original ceramic designs of Archiproject.  Three new collections have been added - Anima Ever (in six colours), Join (in three colours), and Hike (in two colours).  9mm thick tiles are offered in 1,200 by 2,400mm and 300 by 2,400mm (a new format for Caesar); and 6mm thick tiles in 1,200 by 2,780mm, 1,600 by 3,200mm, and 1,600 by 1,600mm).

Marmoker by Casalgrande Padana has a strong identity and a bold style.  The timeless charm of Calacatta marble and its classic grain on a white background; the delicate green shades of White Musk; and the brighter tones of Caribbean Green and Brown Forest; the contrasts between Orange Black or Rosso Francia and the darker shades of Ossidiana are just a few of the features of this collection.

Marmoker delivers a vast colour palette, a kaleidoscope of nuances, and versatile shapes and sizes to help create unique spaces. Casalgrande Padana’s cutting-edge technology to gives prestigious marbles a new twist to create perfect solutions for contemporary architecture.

Marmoker is the perfect collection to create exclusive floorings and wall coverings, associating the excellent technical features of porcelain stoneware with the aesthetic quality of the surfaces.

The new tiles – Calacatta Extra, Titan White, White Musk, Oyster Grey, Caribbean Green, Brown Forest, Tangerine, Orange Black, Rosso Francia, Night Storm, Fior di Pesco, Ossidiana, Canoca, and Ana Grey – extend Marmoker’s already vast colour palette, which now boasts 48 colours. All these tiles recreate the typical traits of the natural stone they are named after.  This collection is available with Naturale or Lucida finishes, in sizes that range from 590 by 590mm to 1,600 by 3,200mm, and come in thickness ranging from 6.5 to 10mm.

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