Cersaie, the five-day exhibition of all things tile (and bathroom), wrapped up in Bologna last week. We spent hours exploring the 156,000 square metres of exhibition space, in search of what’s new, innovative and beautiful in the world of ceramic and porcelain surfacing.
What did we find? Retro patterns, vibrant colours, huge slabs, plenty of terrazzo, graphics and grids, and new designer collaborations. Here are the top eight highlights from Cersaie 2017.
1 Emilgroup’s next-level booth
Some 450 tile manufacturers exhibit at Cersaie, which means drawing the eye of the architects, designers and journalists in attendance gets competitive. Some companies offer impressive lounges with gourmet food offerings that their booths, some have beautiful women standing out front, while others, like Emilgroup, devise elaborate, immersive displays.
Emilgroup’s series of installations included Twisting Roads, a Calatrava-inspired, twirling timber tunnel that provided a canopy for its wood-look flooring. Personal Reflections, a round room surfaced in Emilgroup’s B Squared tiles, which feature Italian patterns that date back 70 years, was finished with a mirrored ceiling that created a sense of endless depth and optical illusions.
2 All things retro
So many of the collections launched at Cersaie 2017 were steeped in nostalgia; retro and antique patterns were found at nearly every booth. Take Vietri Ceramic’s new Happy Days collection, for example. The hand-painted, 20-by-20 centimetre tiles are inspired by the 1970s American sitcom of the same name, and are available in 12 unique motifs and eight colours that create a decidedly vintage vibe.
3 Advanced inkjet decoration
Digital printing technology continues to evolve, expanding the creative possibilities for ceramic manufacturers. Delconca’s Valentina tiles feature sharp reproductions of a beloved 1960s Italian comic series by Guido Crepax, proving that almost anything, even highly detailed drawings, can be slapped onto tile.
Save for a comic book store or a thematic hospitality space, it’s hard to imagine many suitable environments for the Valentina collection. Delconca says that while it’s available in North America, it’s targeted to a European and specifically Italian market, and will have niche applications. Still, it’s an impressive example of what can be achieved with advanced printing techniques.
4 ABK’s wallpaper-like surfacing
ABK also focused on the creative possibilities of digital printing. During Cersaie, it launched its Wide&Style series of large-format tile. Some 50 different graphic iterations are available, in 160-by-320 centimetre and 120-by-240 centimetre panels, with a 7-millimetre thickness. When installed, the huge slabs appear nearly seamless, offering a convincing wallpaper effect that’s more durable and easier to maintain than the real thing.
Wide&Style tiles can be produced with regular cold-pressed “Digit” process, or with the “Digit+” process, which includes a second firing that gives the tiles chemical and UV resistance, making them suitable for exterior facades and bathrooms.
5 Designer collaborations
Wood look, marble imitations, material textures, huge planks, thin planks … How many more tricks can one expect ceramics manufacturers to pull from their collective hat? When in doubt, tap a designer or architect to envision something different. Harmony, Decoratori Bassanesi, Bardelli, and Lea are just a handful of ceramiches that unveiled new tiles conceived by a variety of creative partners.
We like the collaboration between Bisazza and architect David Rockwell. For the company’s Cementile collection, which the likes of Jaime Hayon, Paola Navone and Tom Dixon have previously contributed to, Rockwell developed a namesake sub-line of 10 different patterns in shades of grey, rust, blue and beige. The effect is that of gradient texture, with a blurred effect.
“I explored the idea of how light transforms surfaces and environment,” Rockwell says. “We created a series of multi tone tiles that generate ombré patterns suggesting a sense of depth, undulation and vibrancy.”
6 Wood-look takes a turn
In the last few editions of Cersaie, wood-look ceramic has dominated, with nearly every manufacturer offering its own spin. This year, it retreated and when it did crop up, it attempted a slightly different angle: believable knots, swaths of colour, or, in the case of Tagina, a Shou Sugi Ban effect.
The company’s new tile, aptly called Sugi Ban, attempts to imitate the Japanese charred cedar effect. The likeness may not be exact but after years of the same honey- and oak-coloured hardwood impersonations, a new approach stood out.
7 Life in colour
Speaking of colour, it’s made a welcome return to the world of ceramics. In 2016, muted hues dominated, but this year, there’s vibrancy and boldness to be had. 41zero42’s Technicolor collection offers some 20 hues, including marigold, coral and a deep turquoise.
8 Florim’s Memphis Group-inspired terrazzo
Another discernible trend at Cersaie 2017: terrazzo. The traditional composite material has been given a modern upgrade in tile interpretations, thanks to technologies that imprint the effect of chips of different materials and in different colours. On the show floor, the array of terrazzo tiles included versions with brightly hued seams, abstract renderings where the chips were supersized rather than miniature, and, in the case of Florim, a hyper realistic surfacing that can be customized with different colours, varying chip sizes and a glossy or matte finish.
The collection, called Artwork, is part of the company’s Casamood line. Florim says it was inspired by the graphic, post-modern patterns created by Memphis Group founder Ettore Sottsass in the 1980s.