Design directions: Wall and floor trends for 2018 and beyond

Design directions: Wall and floor trends for 2018 and beyond

January 2018

Tile of Spain, which represents over 125 Spanish tile manufacturers, is forecasting macro trends for 2018 which include: monochromatic colours, planks for wood and beyond, vintage looks, non rectified edges, encaustic mash-ups, large format thin tile and porcelain pavers.

When looking at the coming year’s innovations as a whole, there is a reverence for clean, honest materials.  Collections are being designed with broad expanses of installations in mind.  Tile is not just an accent, it is literally everywhere: both indoors and out.  The intentional hyper-distressed trend is beginning to give way to a more refined and stately vintage look, with a well-loved and maintained feel.  2018’s ceramics are all about the balance that consumers are struggling so hard to find in their daily 21st Century lives.

Grey, White, Black remain the top three colours - in that order - for both floor and walls with Greige (grey-beige) following as a close 4th depending on the collection’s design inspiration.  The only departure from this is in the wood planks collections: where classic wood tones still reign supreme.  The complimentary colours of choice have shifted from the oceanic blues, teals and turquoise that were solidly in place for the past two years.  Accent tones of choice for 2018 are denim blues (ranging from steely grey-blue to deep and saturated over-dyed indigos) and deep wine bottle or British racing greens.

A preference for Planks
Almost without exception, manufacturers are reporting their top sellers to be planks.  This seems to be a truism in most global marketplaces but certainly is the case in North America where design and architecture features so much of the native timber. 

The interesting thing is that stone, metal and even cotto are finding great success in the planks formats.  North America tends to favour planks in the 200 by 900mm format, with design-led markets favouring the longer 1,200mm plank formats.

Rectified edges driven by installed cost
In recent years, North America has been trending away from rectified edges in all looks, with the exception being traditional marble and flowing textured wall tiles in the 1300 by 900mm size, and even larger formats.

The luxury market, on the other hand, tends to prefer the seamless look a rectified edge provides and don’t mind the premium installation costs.  Installation costs seem to be the key component to the shift towards a traditional calibrated (non-rectified) tile, and that holds true for the UK.  This trend has also opened the door for a revival of the rusticated edge look that was so strong in the 1990s.

Well-loved Vintage looks
Heavy rustication and weathering appear to be on the decline this year; making way for more of a vintage, hand-worked look.  In designs ranging from woods and stones to glazed ceramics and cottos, the overall impression created by the 2018 tile collections is one of a long life with care and consideration rather than one of neglect and hardship.

The stripped and painted woods have mellowed to a burnished sand-blasted look and the ceramics have multiple effects of lustered glazes, subtle metallics and varied finishes to deepen their overall aesthetic.

Encaustic mash-ups make the grade
The dominant design trend remains the encaustic cement look and other riffs on the style where multiple patterns are mashed together to create a layered cohesive look.
Most of these looks are offered in the traditional 200 by 200mm format but many are printed as decors on larger format tiles.

Other directions in deco this year are favouring delicate textures in damask or lace patterns, as well as a strong influence from paper and textiles in all styles. Geometrics are also back in many minimalist collections for 2018, either as overlays or tone-on-tone options.

Small formats continue to gain visibility in wall tile portfolios, reinforced by the enduring popularity of subway tiles.  The most popular formats appear to be 200 by 200mm (no surprise given the strength of traditional encaustic tiles), 150 by 300mm and 100 by 750mm; although 75 by 300mm is also growing in popularity and influence.

Gauged porcelain slabs or thin porcelain sheets
This relatively new market segment continues to gather a head of steam; especially as a strategy to reduce grout joints in bathrooms and kitchen worktops.  The market is steadily adjusting to this material, and it is becoming more commonplace at the point of sale.

20mm Pavers cement their position
One of the key components to the rapid growth of this 20mm thick category is that they are lighter and more consistent to cut than traditional cement pavers. Because of this, the contractor base is actively promoting the switch to porcelain in projects.

Previous years saw almost exclusively 600 by 600mm formats, but in 2018 the range is notably larger, with 400 by 800mm and 600 by 1,200mm formats now commonplace, with some even being cut down to 300mm or 200mm planks as well.
Some of the paver offerings, especially in flagstone or cobblestone looks, featured the softly weathered edge; which is also increasingly seen in cottos and French limestone looks in more traditional floor tile thicknesses.
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