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Home> Ceramique Internationale <Not 50 shades of beige, just two

Not 50 shades of beige, just two

As usual, Peter Vann and Cameron Fraser, directors of Ceramique Internationale, also attended the show. The pair generously provided some of their own thoughts and experiences below.

It wouldn’t be Cersaie without some travel issues, but when we learned, before departing for Bologna, that the planned strike by our chosen airline had been averted at the last minute, our hopes were naively raised. And, so it came to pass, after two full days of traipsing the 140,000sqm of tile-filled halls, the same airline cancelled our return flight for Friday.

Cue a mad scramble on Wednesday evening to discover a new route home – which resulted in leaving the show a day earlier than planned, with the carrier we all love to hate and at a ridiculous price!

We can only imagine the level of carnage at Bologna Airport on the Friday – perhaps organisers need to move the dates so that Wednesday becomes the new Thursday in order to avoid the last-to-leave-on-Friday problem that seems to happen almost every year!

But on to the show itself. Having learned our lesson last year, when the evening post-show trip to Sassuolo to see the big players who no longer take part in the main exhibition had left us more than a little exhausted, this year we did the hour-long journey in the morning, pre-show, which made it far more bearable. And it didn’t disappoint, with Marazzi and Ragno’s showrooms and development labs just as busy as the exhibition, and full to the brim with trends.

Following last year’s Terracotta re-emergence, Marazzi Group widened the trend showing warm earthy tones, available in the evergreen 60x240mm metro shape and also 200x200mm, plus a wide selection of 3D and patterned options. The same colour palette was offered in 1000x1000mm floor tiles too.

The castellated wood panels that are peppering the UK interior design sector at the moment were also expertly recreated and displayed without using a grout joint. They were the best we’ve seen yet, but you need a grout joint – don’t you?

We were also introduced to the latest glaze technology that all the main players in Italy and Spain adopted for the show. It uses reactive and 3D glaze printing to highlight details on the surface of tiles.

Marazzi has grouped their offering as “Touch-Technology”, including leaf pattern feature tiles, brought to life with realistic stems and fronds that protrude slightly. And the protrusions were iridescent, to highlight visibility.

Casalgrande Padana’s “Vein-Touch” uses the same technology to stunning effect on a new honed-surface marble series, highlighting coloured veining as indented striations.

The specialist Spanish producers of small format wall tiles have also grabbed this new glaze tech, with the likes of Fabresa, Equipe, Wow, Estudio and Mainzu all bringing surface textures to life, adding both visual impact and value.

These producers have also all latched onto what will become even more popular in 2024. So have a break…have a kit-kat. These pre-grooved three-dimensional “kit-kat” style wall tiles were seen in a myriad of colours, textures and effects, including a realistic Bamboo by Mainzu and a Long-Stick option by Amadis.

Last year Casalgrande, amongst others, featured items of fabricated furniture, to demonstrate how third-party fabricators could use 6mm slabs of porcelain to create kitchen worktops or dining table surfaces. It was window dressing then, but this year Casalgrande took the bull by the horns and exhibited pre-made counter-top wash basins and shower bases for the luxury bathroom sector, which they are marketing themselves. All available in a veritable cornucopia of colours and effects and with hefty price tags.

An excellent new range of soft-stone effect, warm neutral tones called Era, drawn from the highly successful Metropolis series from Casalgrande, also looks set to be a winner for the UK domestic market.

Marca Corona featured large format mild metallic colours coupled with very heavily embossed steel décor features.

And Wow showcased the unusual use of gently coloured wall tiles that vertically colour-degrade from the floor upwards to a very pale middle and then regenerate back to colour at ceiling height – a style hitherto unseen. The jury is out on the colour-fade effect but the innovation is an interesting idea!

We find it hard to believe there are still types of marble being discovered, however the worldwide search appears never-ending with still more variants presented in tile form this year. Interestingly, very little was displayed in 300x600mm – the UK’s most loved but widely overproduced size.

And then we get to the star of the show. Are you ready? Yes, it’s back and it’s official – beige is the new grey…
Every man and his dog seemed to have prepared an abundance of beige, a barrage of brown – and all manifesting itself as a torrent of Travertine. We must have seen ten offerings on the first ten exhibition stands.

Classic dark beige, quiet light beige, vein-cut Travertine, cross-cut Travertine, chipped-edge Travertine, polished Travertine, honed Travertine, anti-slip Travertine, mixed-size Travertine opuses, three-dimensional Travertine feature wall tiles… We were Travertined-out. They say every cloud has a lining, and so, many producers included Silver Travertine – in all the shapes, sizes and finishes.

They all looked impressive in larger sizes but, in all honesty, the popular 300x600mm format look a bit cheap-and-cheerful alongside.

Fashion in tiles has never been more production-led, and a Cersaie trend has never been more pronounced than this one. And, well, when you’ve seen one Travertine, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Have you had a queue of clients asking where your travertine tiles are? We certainly haven’t yet, but by 2024 it seems set to be on the consumer hit-list.

As we all know, producers are reporting a sales downturn of up to 25% across all their markets (outside of the oil producing nations) – so any new ideas for 2024 needed to be a safe bet, and we are pretty sure that explains the Travertine revival.

While the massive passion for this stone passed away 15 years ago in the UK, it is warm in colour, well understood and therefore an easy sell, so perhaps with all the advances in porcelain production, coupled with today’s glaze upgrades, it is time for a Travertine re-boot. Whether you want one or not!

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