Cevisama 2012 - April 2012

By Darius Helm

 

Cevisama celebrated its 30th annual international ceramic trade show this year. The show, which takes place in Valencia, Spain, is a massive five-day event, with exhibitors of ceramic tile, bathroom and kitchen furnishings, natural stone, frits, glazes, raw materials and machinery spread out across the pavilions of Feria Valencia. 

This year drew over 71,000 attendees, and that included 12,800 foreign buyers from 140 countries, up more than 3% from last year’s show. And there were 780 companies on the show floor, up a hair from last year, including 235 foreign exhibitors from 36 countries.

With a few notable exceptions, Roca being one, all of the major Spanish tile producers were on hand to showcase new and innovative products. With so much product developed for specific regional and international markets, it was the sheer range of colors, designs, textures and finishes that was most notable, from the gleaming marble and ornate gilded tiles targeting the Russian and Middle Eastern markets to the demure earth tones for U.S. customers to the fashion-forward European designs.

The most compelling trend at this year’s show was the concerted effort among many manufacturers to look beyond traditional tile applications to find new functions for tile and increase its end-use markets, leveraging the aesthetics of tile to foster new approaches to creating the built environment. The biggest new tile category, thin tile, has done just that, enabling the use of tile to resurface not just flooring and walls but also cabinets and countertops. Thin tiles are a major global trend, led by the European ceramic tile manufacturers. Europeans are using it on floors and walls, including exterior cladding, but in the U.S. it’s largely limited to walls for now.

As has been the case with most trade shows over the last few years, traffic on the show floor could have been brisker. However, Cevisama has fared better than many trade shows, especially considering the troubled Spanish economy. While attendance four years ago was close to 100,000, volume has fallen about 25% since then. But even though attendance was down 7% from last year, it looks like the market is starting to turn around, and gains are expected this year.

In 2011, Spanish tile exports grew by more than 7%, with sales up in almost every geographical region. The markets with the biggest growth were Russia, Saudi Arabia and Israel—Spain’s third, fourth and sixth largest export markets, respectively—averaging over 20% growth. Spain’s biggest market, France, grew by 11.7%, while U.K. business was down 2.5%, and U.S. business, which had been shrinking, was up nearly 1%. The U.S. is Spain’s ninth largest export market.

Over the last few years, the international tile market has been flooded with commodity products, most notably from China, but European producers have maintained their edge with products focusing on design, performance and innovation. That’s why, while Spain ranks seventh in overall tile production (by volume), when it comes to revenues it ranks third.

While the U.S. market is very important to Spanish tile producers, and while it’s seen as a market that is destined to regain strength in the next few years, the attention of this year’s manufacturers was mostly on the Russian market. There was not a high gloss marble tile at the show that did not come with the explanation, both eager and apologetic, “It’s for the Russians.”

TRENDS AT THE SHOW
One of the most refreshing trends at the show relates to faux looks. Stone looks dominate ceramic tile designs, and other faux looks like hardwood have gained prominence in recent years, and the challenge has always been to make the looks more realistic. Digital inkjet printing has taken faux designs to a new level, and while it’s opened the door to incredibly realistic stone and wood designs, far more interesting are the blended designs that were showcased at this year’s Cevisama. 

The most striking designs were blends of wood and stone, with visuals that resemble both rock strata and wood graining for crisp, linear looks. Overall, wood and stone looks were more stylized than in year’s past. Digital printing technology has also opened the door to a range of custom designs, since literally anything can now be printed on tile. 

Matte finishes were big at this year’s show, along with a range of lappato finishes, also leaning toward the low gloss end—a lappato finish only glazes the high points of the tile, so depending on the texture itself, the finish can look more or less glossy. There were some high gloss finishes too, but they were almost exclusively targeting the Russian market.

Concrete looks are still strong, but now they come in a wider variety, some with soft painted looks, some heavy with the look of industrial wear, and still others with more surface action, verging on stone and even wood looks. A lot of the distressing in concrete looks was less about overall rugged textures and more about scrapes and score marks to add visual interest. There are still corten looks out there, though the best of them are low key in subdued, cool tones.

Both leather and textile looks were less prevalent than in recent years, but there were suggestions of textile in some looks, while the leather effect seems to have shifted into the soft concretes.

Another major ongoing trend is thin tiles. There were plenty on display at the show, often performing circus feats of strength and flexibility in their ongoing mission to prove their performance. This year the visuals are better than ever, and it won’t be long before we start seeing these tiles in the U.S. market.

Large formats continue to be big, up to 48”x48”, and rectangular tiles, up to 24”x48” seem to be particularly hot right now. 

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS
Saloni, whose product goes to the U.S. residential and multi-family markets, came out with a number of new looks, including several 18”x18” tiles. Most impressive was Wooden, a porcelain line with the look of fossilized wood conveyed by inkjet printing. Also on display was Fusion, a color-body porcelain with a wood look, including a pale, almost white-washed design. 

Ceramica Elias, which uses traditional extruded production techniques, showcased terra cotta designs with rich glazes, as well as a black klinker tile with a dry, matte finish.

Ceracasa, which serves the commercial and high end residential markets, unveiled new products and some innovative programs, including its customizable Emotile line, which was displayed on the wall to illustrate the possibilities in custom design. The firm also showcased BionicTile, which uses titanium dioxide to clean the air; Ecom4Tile, which uses phase changing materials to capture and release energy; and FlashTile, which is luminescent.

The firm also featured products with its Soft finish, like Cuarcita, a quartzite design in nine colors with a textured look but a smooth finish.

Grespania’s new products include Namibia, a color-body glazed porcelain with a stone look. The rectified tile comes in sizes up to 24”x24” and colors including a near black. On display on the floor was Basilea, a textured plank format tile in four colors that uses subtle shifts in color and an irregular linear texture to somehow look like both wood and concrete.

The firm’s Coverlam line of 3.5mm thin tiles, featuring inkjet technology, includes a dramatic design that blends wood and stone.

Apavisa, a division of Aparici that focuses on the commercial market, created lots of buzz with its shaped wall tiles, but it also showcased some dramatic floor tile looks, including corten visuals in hexagonal rectified tiles, along with some rectangular cortens with low gloss finishes with irregular higher gloss shimmers for a convincing distressed industrial look.

The Aparici brand, which focuses on the residential market, offers products in formats up to 36”x36”. The firm showcased an enticing wood look on the floor, stylized more in color than pattern, with linear graining capturing a range of colors within each plank (earthy reds, greens and browns, for instance).

Inalco, a leader in ceramic tile innovation, showcased its Slimmker thin tiles, which come in sizes up to 40”x52” for floor applications. One interesting product was Handcraft, which has the look of hand-finished and painted concrete in colors ranging from black and deep brown to khaki, pearl and cream. Even more compelling was Vestige 2.0, which has the look of raw machined wood with hints of textile. The line features subtle graining along the length and a crisp scraped texture along the width, and it comes in a range of browns and lighter earth tones.

Vives showcased tiles with end cut hardwood designs in 7”x7” squares with a light gloss, along with Salonga, a wood look with a matte finish, and Paramo, a textured wood look. Also new is Devon, with the look of a patterned terrazzo.

The Size, which specializes in extruded thin tiles, offered some truly enormous formats, up to 47”x141”—though that’s a size for cladding, not flooring. The tiles come at thin as 3mm, but flooring options are 5mm. The firm can produce tile in just about any size.

Peronda came out with a concrete look called Horm, a rustic visual manufactured using five rotocolor applications followed by inkjet printing. The color-body porcelain, which comes in four colors from a creamy white to medium and dark grey, features low-key color banding and pattern irregularities that suggest natural stone. It comes in sizes up to 24”x24”.

Peronda also had on display a bold floor and wall line called Timber that features field tiles (6”x36” and 8”x48”) with the look of reclaimed barnwood and accent tiles with distressed lettering and graphics that enhance the reclaimed story of the line.

Natucer, another firm that specializes in traditional extruded tile, has figured out how to use inkjet technology in its wet production process, and it came out with the Cotto line, which uses the technology to add subtle colorations to the tiles for a more weathered look. The firm also showcased the Cementi line of traditional patterned tiles, Piemonte featuring hand-painted decos, and a line called Casella that offers mosaics arranged in larger tiles as opposed to mesh mounted.

Plaza’s Eco-logik line features products with 85% post-industrial content from waste recaptured both from Plaza’s facility and other manufacturers. The line includes EcoWood, a range of weathered barnwood designs with a dusty zero gloss finish. There’s also Tequa, a tile design composed of a grid of squares with alternating linear markings and subtle shifts of color between the squares.

Tau’s new Essentia line is made up of six collections inspired by different regions: Vesubio, inspired by Roman lava stone, features a weathered look in warm earth tones; Onice takes its inspiration from St. Petersburg with a collection of high gloss and lappato looks for the Russian market, including some dynamic marbles; Mayfair features weathered concrete looks with hints of natural stone, in ivory, grey and anthracite with lappato and matte finishes; Leño, inspired by Germany’s Black Forest, features rustic wood looks with a lot of color range; Bouquet, based on France’s Provence region, features saturated colors in soft linear designs; and Albaicin, inspired by a region in Spain, offers low gloss, rustic stone in warm earth tones.

Also new from Tau’s S3 division, and not relating to flooring but innovative enough that it deserves a mention, is the Technical Ceramic Wall, behind which all wiring for domestic appliances and electrical equipment is concealed. The wall features designs that function as reactive switches, so for instance to turn on the air conditioning you might run your hand over a butterfly, and to turn on the TV or turn off the lights, you would touch another part of the wall. It’s all customizable, of course. At the showroom, the wall also activated an air purifier that pulled the air behind the wall where a titanium dioxide system, catalyzed by UV light, managed to completely remove the smell of acetone in just a few seconds.

This is stealth technology at its finest, and it doesn’t come cheap, but it works well, it’s aesthetically pleasing, and it increases the efficiency of the home (or work) environment.

Keraben goes to market with three brands: Metropol and Keraben target the medium to high end of the market, while Atenea hits the lower price points. New designs in the Keraben line include concrete looks with hints of natural stone in low gloss finishes. A big hit for the firm was Brancato, with a stone look and sizes up to 24”x24” and three finishes. Petit Granit, which is doing well in Canada, comes in a near black, a cool medium dark grey and a warm lighter grey. 

The firm also showcased Lava, a through-body unglazed porcelain for high traffic areas. It comes in matte, lappato and antislip finishes in five colors (three greys, a beige and a deep ivory). Under Atenea, which makes red body ceramic, there were low gloss wood looks in a range of colors.

Pamesa had on display a range of products suited to the U.S. market, including Giotto, a stone look in four colors and two sizes: 12”x24” and 18”x18”. Also on display was Castilla, a 24”x24” format with a design of tiles boxed in by wood strips. The best looking one used a Crema Marfil design for the interior. 

Copyright 2012 Floor Focus 



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