Clever reinvention rather than revolution

Clever reinvention rather than revolution

November 2018

Peter Vann, Director of Ceramique Internationale, offers an informed insight into the key design trends at Cersaie.

Putting aside the usual physical trials (35,000 steps in two and a half days) and the airline strikes that made leaving Cersaie 2018 a challenge, the show itself delivered as ever, with an impressive 900 exhibitors and some stunning new collections.

However, this year’s show centred rather more around evolution than revolution, with the reinvention of existing surface effects and trends and the added extra ‘spice’ coming from injections of colour and decoration.

Marble effects in slab format were almost omnipresent and with more colours than ever – Casalgrande Padana alone offers 34 different colours - and an increase in options such as book-match (two tiles which are mirror images) and end-match (a pattern that runs across four tiles).

Marazzi’s slab tile range extension – in the shape of the Grande series – was launched with much fanfare at its Sassuolo showroom.  The collection now includes ginormous 1,600 by 3,200mm slabs in 6mm thickness and 1,620 by 3,240mm in 12mm thickness.  The emergence of the thicker products demonstrates the producers understanding, after a couple of years’ experience, that the “perfect” flat subfloor required for laying thinner slabs is elusive, making the products much harder to install and, therefore, less attractive.

It goes without saying that these highly impressive tiles require very large spaces to be effective when fixed, but another obstacle facing showrooms like ours is how to display them.  One brand - Level, part of the Italian Emilgroup – which specialises in 1,600 by 3,200mm slabs, has come with a refreshingly simple and effective solution.  One slab held in an easel with just a few props to create a designer look – stunning.

While slabs are as big (get it?) as ever, some trends from last year’s show were less in evidence.  Terrazzo, which featured so heavily in 2017 and has been a winner in interior design magazines ever since, appears to have been a flash in the design-pan that will remain only to be utilised on commercial projects.

The same can’t be said for wood-effect tiles with yet more new interpretations in evidence.  Just when you thought every wood type had been digitally printed onto tiles (including last year’s Venetian Gondola mooring pole) along comes Italian avant-garde producer Settecento with Bamboo and the remarkably niche Japanese burnt effect called Yakisugi.

Marazzi employed an interesting wood twist with ranges that are 100mm and 150mm width and differing lengths but cleverly sold in pre-packed boxes containing both formats allowing very easy creation of a random planked floor.

The other new development in wood was much longer planks that utilise cut slab-production – another use for the machinery the factories have invested in - but how much impact this will have on the UK market remains to be seen, as demand is generally still for 200 by 1,200mm tiles, or smaller, in this country.

Contemporary and unassuming surfaces such as cement, plaster, concrete, and resin have been selling well, so there were lots and lots and lots of new takes on them at the show. However, unless viewed as large tiled areas these surfaces are sometimes difficult to visually understand, as one tile on its own looks pretty much like another – even with the digital printing technology providing unique characteristics to each piece.

Up to now these surfaces have tended to be most popular in monochromatic grey tones and so seeing the Casalgrande Padana Concrete R-evolution series in shades of blue, green, brown and even pink (pink concrete – yes, you heard it here first) was unusual but welcome.

It was also very refreshing to see the emergence of a couple of stronger looking surfaces in this sector particularly the Richetti Cocoon.  A stunning multi-sized series which includes a small 14mm thick rustic-edge cobble-style as the outdoor version.  There are six colours in the series, but each colour includes huge variants creating a fabulous effect.

On the same theme Verde 1999 have cleverly managed to combine three material effects – stone, metal and concrete - into one tile for its new Matrix series, which also features an impactful large pentagon shape.

Talking of using different shapes, Marca Corona introduced a new range of rhombus-shaped wall tiles: state of the art design from the original and oldest tile manufacturer which started producing all the way back in 1741.

Casalgrande Padana also got in the act with large 1,200 by 2,400mm slab format, geometric and wild coloured decorative tiles, great to accent plain effects.  Fashion dictated that one of them was a perfect match for my fellow director Cameron’s blue suit, and another wildly patterned and multicoloured one contained so much gold that the ex-factory price was a truly eye-watering €940 per sq. metre!  We won’t sell many of them in Yorkshire, I suspect!

There was a prevalence of coloured decorative patterns for flooring - typified by the Marazzi D-Segni series, introducing dusty indigo, tangerine and mustard colours.
Spanish supplier Equipe’s Art Nouveau collection also demonstrated the trend for the softening of usually monochromatic patterns, alongside coloured designs; all suited to create a repeating pattern from a group of four smaller tiles.

Smaller format coloured wall tiles were also well evidenced, with bright and muted colours in gloss and matt surfaces with patterned tiles to match, which will make for excellent follow-ons from our recently introduced and very successful Harewood range.

Our very popular Petronio range, from Marco Corona, was echoed across the show, with an increasing number of factories offering collections of these encaustic style multi-pattern floor tiles; so it is safe to say that this is not a look that is going away any time soon.  In fact, Casalgrande Padana is adding its name to the mix with the Opus Series, which focusses on combining warm grey and pale cream colours into the pattern mixes, with a very worn-looking cement surface.

Always providing stand out designs at Cersaie is Spanish producer Natucer, which offers an astonishing selection of eye-catching shapes, colours and sizes.  In fact it currently manufactures no less than 12,000 different product lines.

And if there is one manufacturer that never lets us down with different – some may even say off the wall – mosaics it is designers’ favourite Appiani, who chose Cersaie 2018 to launch a range of mosaics that looks like denim.  Not perhaps an obvious choice, but perhaps alternative thinking is in their ‘jeans’.

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