In September 2011, the Bologna Fairgrounds in Northern Italy bustled with over 81,000 visitors, all there for the 29th edition of the Cersaie tradeshow. With nearly 1,000 companies from 34 different
countries exhibiting, the annual ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings
show is undoubtedly one of the industry’s most important events, showcasing the latest achievements in technology, sustainability and design. Major advancements in digital printing and sustainable manufacturing, as well as new offerings in sizes, colors and textures conveyed ceramic tile’s role as a major player in the commercial industry. Here are just a few of the trends attendees saw in Bologna.
the evolution of color
Utilizing color as a source of design innovation, Refin launched a groundbreaking collection of porcelain tiles at the show based on the scientific criteria of brightness, saturation and shade. Using the NCS-Natural Color System—an equation based on a color’s resemblance to the six elementary colors—Cromie features four lines developed in nine chromatic shades and three formats (24-inch by 24-inch, 12-inch by 24-inch and 4-inch by 24-inch).
Marazzi also impressed attendees with its variety of colorful porcelains. SistemA is a line of crystallized porcelain stoneware that features remarkable three-dimensional properties and depth of color. The tiles come in a range of six warm, six cold and six vibrant shades, with the option to create custom colors.
From ¾-inch thick porcelain tiles to 4-foot by 4-foot porcelain slabs, tile is becoming the go-to material for outdoor flooring. Unlike stone, tiles are perfectly squared and rectified as well as frost-resistant, skid-resistant, easy to clean and more hard-wearing than any natural material. These new sizes also allow the tiles to be dry laid over dirt, pebbles, grass, sand or gravel, or installed onto terraces using a raised structure without the need for specialized workers.
EVO 2/E from Mirage is a versatile system of ¾-inch thick porcelain tiles. Available in nine colors and two sizes (24-inch by 24-inch and 24-inch by 48-inch), it is a simple solution for a variety of spaces ranging from gardens and gazebos to terraces and balconies. Similarly, Caesar recently launched AExtra 20, a system of ¾-inch thick modular porcelain slabs that can be laid onto support structures or directly onto gravel. Tagina also introduced a monolithic tile as part of its Wire system. Designed by Simone Micheli, the system focuses on special pieces and modular structures for indoor and outdoor environments. Compact is a ¾-inch thick glazed porcelain slab that comes in six colors, is simple to install and facilitates the drainage of water.
Though slightly slimmer at a ½-inch thickness, Garfloor’s 4-foot by 4-foot Infinity Stone porcelain tiles also demonstrate this monolithic trend. The naturally structured finish of the tile is reminiscent of the surface of a block of hewn stone, while the partially semi-polished finish is similar to the feeling of stone polished by water.
Another example is Century’s elegant and contemporary Challenge series. Its availability in a range of sizes—as small as 12-inch by 12-inch, and as large as 4-foot by 4-foot—makes it the perfect flooring solution for very complex projects and large-scale surfaces.
concrete and resin
The chromatic shades and irregular patterns of raw cement and resin were seen in nearly every corner
of the show, reflecting our current fascination with industrial spaces. Italian manufacturers are responding to that interest with tiles that feature both industrial looks and the functionality, flexibility and durability of ceramic.
Concept is a porcelain stoneware collection by Sant’Agostino inspired by hand-applied resin floors. It has an especially shiny and soft structured surface and comes in four sizes and five basic hues.
RE-evolution is the newest addition to Lea’s super-slim (3 mm) and large-format (3 meters by
1 meter) Slimtech line. Each porcelain tile faithfully
reproduces the spatula designs characteristic of resin pavements with a semi-matte texture and soft, velvety feel. Like the other tiles in the Slimtech line, RE-evolution can be used for ventilated facades and innovative cladding systems.
Panaria’s Experience line, also available as a super-thin 3 mm tile, is characterized by a concrete resin look, while Evolve by Atlas Concorde and Architecture by Casalgrande Padana both feature textured surfaces reminiscent of brushed cement.
Other standouts include Nr. 21 by Viva and Reverse by Floorgres, whose subtle wood grain motifs give a near-perfect impression of formwork cement. In addition, Mutina’s new collaboration with Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec resulted in a line of porcelain tiles that maintain the raw aspect of handmade cement. Pico comes in dusty shades of red and blue as well as three neutral tones (white, gray and sand) with a matte finish, and a slightly irregular dotted texture with two relief surfaces: “Down” with sunken dots and “Up” with elevated dots.
multiple shades of green
From reintegrating manufacturing residues
into the production process to using recycled glass from discarded TV screens and computer monitors, Italian tile manufacturers continue to push the envelope with new environmentally friendly collections.
Mosaic specialist Mosaico+ uses a low-energy manufacturing process to create its Area 25 collection. Made of 95 percent recycled glass, the extremely strong and versatile mosaics come in 22 glossy colors with an optional R12 grip finish. Putting electronic waste to good use, Refin used the fair to show off Wood2, the third collection by the company that uses post-consumer recycled glass from obsolete cathode-ray tube TV sets. With a perfect worn wood look and unconventional square format (24-inch by 24-inch or 18-inch by 18-inch), the line also creates a unique opportunity for designers and architects.
EcoDream by Novabell, Linfa by Laminam and Ecostone by Gardenia Orchidea are just a few of the many new porcelain stoneware introductions that contain a high percentage of recycled content, which can help contribute to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) points. Finicibec Group, which includes the Italian companies Monocibec, Naxos and Century, offers more than 22 ceramic tile collections that contain over 40 percent recycled material, while EmilCeramica produces 21 collections that contain this portion or higher. In terms of grout and adhesives, Mapei is a proud innovator of environmentally responsible solutions and manufactures more than 110 LEED-compliant products.
From super-slim tiles to self-fixing floors, Italian companies are introducing tiles and systems that make life easier for designers and installers. Laminam’s Emoziona is comprised of 20-inch by 60-inch ceramic tiles with interlocking back panels made of 40 percent recycled material. It uses 50 percent less adhesive on walls and requires none for flooring.
Perfect for restorations or temporary installations, Aexacta by Caesar is a floating floor system consisting of 24-inch by 24-inch stoneware slabs, onto which a lower layer of cork and ABS (anti-shock) border are applied. Similarly, Imola’s Cliptile features an innovative plastic support with a precision automatic clip that allows state-of-the-art tile laying in only a few, simple steps. These are just a few of the new products from Italy that provide quick, easy and cost-saving solutions for flooring.
As the 2011 edition confirmed, Cersaie continues to be a showcase for the latest innovations in tile and bathroom fixtures. To access these products, or download more new products, visit
www.italiantiles.com. For more
information on Cersaie, visit www.cersaie.it.