Year after year, marble-inspired tiles lend a sense of purity and timelessness to interior design. And classic white marbles - carrara and statuario - still dominate in the marble wall and floor tile sector at the major international tile trade shows.
However, the widespread adoption of digital inkjet technology, and other cutting-edge manufacturing options – notable modern metallics, dissociative glazes, and sinking inks – have allowed the leading factories in Italy and Spain to nuance their marble-effect ranges to give them even more appeal. It is no longer sufficient to produce photorealistic reproductions of natural marble slabs. Today these porcelain facsimiles have to be enhanced with metallic shimmers, hints of colour, soft glazes with incredible slip-resistance, and etched decors that emphasise the material’s natural heritage; while being available in versatile modular wall and floor formats that maximise the creative options for professional interior designers and home owners alike.
Recently, manufacturers have set aside their reluctance to use dark tones and have released collections in black, green, and anthracite that have a more dramatic and sophisticated feel. So, as well as the classic black-white contrasts delivered in carrara and nero marquina, recent editions of Cersaie, Cevisama and Coverings have seen black marbles paired with deep green, and rich blue stone tones to create truly dramatic design statements.
An added option comes in the form of the current crop of fusion surfaces. Over the past 24 months new ‘materials’ have emerged from the fusion of concrete-effect surfaces with marble patterns, or both marble-metallic mixes. This design direction should prove very fruitful. The results generate unusual neutral or bold colourways, unexpected surface patterns, and lend themselves to gloss, satin, and more tactile textures.
During 2017, classic white marbles dominated this tile category, although there was a detectable shift from dark veined Statuario towards softer, more diffuse, Calacatta or Macael options. At the same time, stark and strong black marbles really came to the fore.
And, 18 months ago, the dominant earth-toned marble was pulpis. This classic Spanish stone comes in a deep, saturated, taupe and can be paired with other colour options with the same surface figuring in greys, beiges, and off-whites.
Today the marble-effect category has taken a rather different turn. Today’s on-trend marble-effects are rather more dramatic. While white carrara-style marbles, and intense blacks such as nero marquina, still lead the way, both Cersaie 2018 and Cevisama 2019 featured new marble-effects where the natural veining was emphasised in metallic silver or golden hues, or embellished using metallic decors or other contrasting materials.
Polished onyx was prominent at the top end of the market, alongside impressive book-matched XXL slabs. There is no getting away from the power and authenticity of today’s faux marble porcelain tiles, something that it driving the penetration of porcelain slabs in the worktop sector.
While gloss finishes remain popular, satin effects are more in evidence this year; with just enough sheen to make the patterns pop, but with a smooth and tactile surface. And then there are options like Keraben’s wonderfully tactile smooth finish that delivers staggering non-slip performance. This is surely the commercial future for marble-effect floor tiles, particularly when paired with white bodied wall tiles that offer the same finish sophistication, but at a more competitive price point and with lower installation costs.
TSJ’s Cersaie review (November 2018) drew attention to the latest marble-effects from leading Italian producers, such as Ariostea, Iris, Casalgrande Padana, Cercom, Cotto d’Este, Del Conca, Emilceramica, Fiandre Architectural Surfaces, and the Florim Group, including Cerim and Florim Stone.
So this article, hot on the heels of Cevisama, shines the spotlight on some of the Spanish marble-effect pioneers: Keraben, Pamesa, Gayafores, and Museum.
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