Six design directions and four colour choices

Six design directions and four colour choices

June 2020

The tile trade associations in Italy and Spain market analysis has identified the main design and colour themes visitor could have expected to see if Coverings had not been cancelled this year.

Despite the cancellation of Coverings due to the world-wide Coronavirus pandemic, the analysts at Confindustria Ceramica and Ascer - the Italian and Spanish tile manufacturers trade associations - have continued to monitor trends in the industry.

 Based on the new products at Cersaie 2019 and Cevisama 2020, plus information on what was scheduled to have been displayed in New Orleans, they have produced the following design and colour directions for 2020-21.

Of course, although Coverings never took place, most of the product development, prototype manufacturing, photography and literature production had been undertaken well before the show was cancelled.  This information has been factored into this analysis, highlighting beautiful patterns, rich glazes, and alluring textures.

The first trend identified by Confindustria Ceramica is Biophilia.  Biophilic design is proven to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, alter mood, and boost creativity.  Tiles mimicking nature can help enhance a person’s perception of space.  Today, Italian tile manufacturers offer a wide variety of plant-like tile designs: from barely-there leaf prints, grassy motifs, and palm designs right through to pixelated florals, pop-art versions, and abstract gardens.  

When Pantone named blue as the colour of the year, tile manufacturers were paying attention, and Confindustria Ceramica has identified Blue at the heading for its second major design trend.  There have been many classic blue options on show in both 2019 and 2020, as advanced technology now allows manufacturers to recreate nearly every shade of blue under the sun.  Home owners can make a bold statement using solid bright blue tiles, energize a room using blue marble with contrasting veining, and create a head-turning floor with the look of rare blue minerals like Blue Sodalite.  Turquoise and teal can also be used to conjure images of the Mediterranean, especially when paired with hexagonal formats and whitewashed walls.  On the other end of the chroma spectrum, greyish blues have a more subdued look and tie back to a sense of calm and serenity.

The third design direction identified by Confindustria Ceramica is Geometric Stone: a ceramic tile design classic that has recently found fresh energy.  

Geometric stone has been used since ancient times and is ubiquitous in Italy, from terrazzo sidewalks to the floors of historic churches like Florence Cathedral.  Thanks to modern technology, Italian tile producers can replicate the look of Palladiana Terrazzo or inlaid stone without the headache of cutting, sorting, and installing an assortment of small pieces. Geometric shapes can also be found in a variety of mosaic options, from linear bricks to rhomboids that look like micro-mosaics, and metallic inserts on marble designs.

With so many well-designed products on the market, it is now no longer sufficient to have a beautiful, high-quality tile.  To truly succeed, a new tile design also needs to tell a persuasive story.  Confindustria Ceramica has brought this market reality to the forefront with a trend it is calling Material Stories.

Today, many manufacturers offer striking photography and imaginative narratives that conjure a specific place or mood – from rustic tiles reminiscent of an historic estate in Tuscany, to collections that evoke the colours of the desert and the charm of Middle Eastern kasbahs.  

Tile producers also scour the world to find fresh material inspiration for their collections, whether it is a rare and precious marble, or a limestone only found in northern Italy.  
Today’s consumers really value provenance and authenticity, and tile manufacturers are attempting to embrace this trend by rediscovering age-old techniques and finding contemporary inspirations from the near and distant past.

A quick tour of the stands at Cersaie or Cevisama will have shown new metallic effects, notably Oxides, have once again emerged as one of the most interesting and varied decorative directions.  Oxidized metal has been a part of architecture and design for over a century, which you can see in the roof patinas of municipal buildings all over the world.  These new metallic-inspired tile collections reveal beautiful material and colour stories, minus the actual chemical reactions - from large format tiles with a beautiful green patina and ceramic mosaics with an imaginative oxidized blue, to tiles that look like Corten steel or oxidized pewter for a more modern industrial look.

The final design trend identified by Confindustria Ceramica is Texture.  This, of course, is an enduring trend: one that evolves in new ways every year as manufacturers continue to push the boundaries of tile beyond the second dimension. There are many different ways to create tactile interest on the surface, from linear reliefs that create a sense of movement to ceramic tile reminiscent of wood panelling from the Victorian era.  

Some manufacturers take an artisanal approach, using glazes or plastic casts to create an imperfect surface and hand-crafted effect. Even tiles with a flat surface can give the appearance of depth and texture by using a tromp l’oeil.

Castellon on colour
Ascer, the Spanish tile manufacturers' trade association, is one of the main sources of information about all things tile-related.  Working in conjunction with The Home Trends Observatory, and The Institute for Ceramic Technology, Ascer has recently published the 2020/2021 Trends in Tiled Surfaces report.  This  outlines four colour spectrums associated with the latest ceramic tile trends. It is available as a PDF at: ashx?documentoId=14343&tipo=pdf.

As Ascer fully understands, ceramic tiles afford endless different design solutions, regardless of the setting’s dimensions, or the location, whether inside or outside the home.  In addition to the huge variety in tile formats, finishes, and designs, their choice of colour is fundamental to certain decorative styles.

Spanish tile brands offer collections in a huge variety of colours and shades, and are thus able to bring almost any colour scheme to life, while at the same time delivering the practical benefits of ceramic tiles, such as hygiene and stain-resistance.

The first colour strand identified in the report is Natural.  Based on organic colours; this trend pays tribute to man’s natural origins, with tiled walls and floors that go back to basics.  Organic colours evocative of nature prevail, from greens that conjure up vegetation, like moss or mint, to terracotta's multiple hues, with its oranges, natural wood-like shades and greyish browns.  Terracotta plays a key role in this colour spectrum, thanks to its natural, earthy, tactile appeal.  

The second palette, Simplicity, offers shades synonymous with wellbeing.  With this trend, tiled walls and floors foster a genuine sense of wellbeing, and colour also plays a fundamental role in helping to create the right atmosphere.  In this case, the emphasis is on soft colours.  They include cloudy shades of white and neutral warm colours, like beige or pink, able to generate a warm, cosy feel.  

The third of Ascer’s colour palettes is Roots.  Here the focus is on hues associated with natural dyes.  This trend encompasses a wide variety of different colours, with surfaces that contribute to the creation of settings with a strong evocative appeal.  

The colours range from muted natural shades, inspired by natural dyes or plant fibres, to more cheerful brighter yellows, blues, and reds.  When they are matched with their opposite colours, eye-catching bold combinations can be achieved or attention can be drawn to certain focal points.  This is an area where tile retailers and distributors can encourage UK home owners to get a little bold and experiment with tiled colour contrasts.
The final colour family identified by Ascer is Ethical Luxury.  This group explores the fading shades of colour: an evolution of shabby chic and a nod towards the French farmhouse aesthetic so beloved of House and Garden and other up-market interior design magazines over the years.  

With this trend, fading shades of colour play a key role in helping to achieve a chic, sophisticated look.  Dark blue and matt black, combined with certain glossy touches, are fundamental in the creation of dark settings with a sense of depth.  They can be contrasted with mirror-like, brushed, or galvanized metal finishes.  

By using oxidised designs or fading colours, surfaces with a multiplicity of effects can be achieved.
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