Tile Files - Aug/Sep 2012

In an era defined by accelerating change both in the world at large and in the microcosm of the flooring industry, it is those elements that remain constant and consistent that truly stand out. Since the Middle Ages, Italy has been the ceramic center of the world, and there’s nothing to suggest this will change any time soon.

Yet Italy has not maintained its position by fighting the forces of change. It has evolved as the world has evolved; what has remained consistent is the creative flair and the passion of the artisan that generated those early designs in the chapels of Bologna of rabbits and birds in hexagonal geometries and now finds expression in microtextures and plays of light and the subtle movements between realism and stylistic interpretation.

When it comes to quality, design, innovation and technology, Italy remains the world leader in the ceramic industry, and is still the leading foreign source of supply for tile consumed in the U.S. 

SASSUOLO, THE “TILE VALLEY”
At the heart of the Italian tile industry is Sassuolo, the industrial district located between the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia, where 80% of all Italian tile is manufactured—nearly three quarters of which is exported to markets around the globe. In this district there are nearly 150 companies employing over 21,000 people. The strong territorial density of companies and the high mobility of technicians, specialized workers and salespeople have played a huge role in generating a ceramics culture that has focused and spurred the constant development of innovative designs and technologies. 

The close proximity of companies is also an advantage from an environmental point of view. Each Italian tile manufacturer shares in the responsibility to safeguard the resources of the region in which it operates, and deems the management of environmental issues to be one of the company’s top priorities. By participating in the European Union’s Environmental Management Program (EMAS) and ISO 14001/14002 environmental guidelines, manufacturers evaluate all areas of pollution and energy consumption and set targets for improvement. These programs are enforced in collaboration with public authorities that perform on-site inspections and interventions.

In the 1980s the Italians invented monocottura (“single-fired” tiles) that revolutionized the building industry, as well as roller ovens, used in the first firing, that led to energy savings and an increase in productivity and flexibility. The same decade saw a breakthrough in porcelain technology, with the first through-body tiles. More recently, with their strong ties to the design and fashion industries, the Italians have elevated the tile industry by partnering with icons such as Marcel Wanders, Patricia Urquiola, Roberto Cavalli and Lenny Kravitz. They pioneered super large (3m x 1m) and super slim (3mm) tiles that are both fashion forward and environmentally friendly, with reductions in energy consumption, raw materials and transport costs, and they introduced antimicrobial tiles that eliminate up to 99% of bacteria and offer long-lasting protection. Italian innovators have also created architectural solutions for ventilated wall facades and elevated flooring.

Despite all of the new competition in recent years, the Italian tile industry is still a world leader in terms of value. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission, in 2011 Italian imports ranked third in terms of quantity (behind China and Mexico) but were valued at $373 million while Mexico and China were valued at $222 million and $213 million, respectively.

This year marks the 30th edition of Cersaie, taking place September 25 to 29 in Bologna, the same city where Pietro Andrea da Faenza decorated chapel floors in the 15th century with those enduring hexagonal motifs. Organized by Edi.Cer and promoted by Confindustria Ceramica, Cersaie is the world’s largest exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings. With roughly 1,000 exhibitors from 31 countries and a sprawling 176,000 square meters of exhibition space, the show annually attracts over 80,000 attendees from all over the globe. Highlights of this year’s “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” conference program include: a keynote speech by 2011 Pritzker Prize winner Eduardo Souto de Moura, a talk on “Design Goes Sci-Fi” with American science fiction writer Bruce Sterling and Italian designer Cini Boeri, and a presentation by Heike Hanada on her design for the new Bauhaus Museum in Weimar, Germany.


Copyright 2012 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Consumer Sentiment Falls from January Peak   Full Article
Ann Arbor, MI, Feb. 13, 2015 -- Consumer sentiment declined in February after reaching an 11-year high in January, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index.

Mohawk Group Sponsors HPD Collaborative   Full Article
Calhoun, GA, Feb. 13, 2015 -- Mohawk Group said it has become part of a growing list of “Visionary” sponsors of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative.

Earthwerks Signs Distributor Longust   Full Article
Houston, TX, Feb. 13, 2015 -- EarthWerks said it has signed a distribution agreement with Longust Distributing, Inc. to cover the southwestern U.S.

NAHB Analyzes Data on Boomerang Millennials   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 13, 2015 -- A recent study of “Boomerang Millennials” may have important implications for this key demographic and what it means for the housing market, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Metroflor Names Langstaff Design Director   Full Article
Norwalk, CT, Feb. 13, 2015 – Metroflor Corp. said that Robert Langstaff has been named the company's first director of design.

More Designers, Architects Attend Surfaces   Full Article
Dallas, TX, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Informa Exhibitions U.S. said that attendance at this year's International Surface Event was comparable to the 2014 show.

Retail Sales Decline in January   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Retail sales fell 0.8% last month, according to the Commerce Department.

Jobless Claims Edge Up Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Initial applications for unemployment benefits last week rose 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000, the Labor Department said.

Milton Warman, Coloramic Tile Founder, Dies   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Milton Warman, 92, founder of Coloramic Tile and Carpet Fair, died Feb. 7.

House Price Growth Steady in Most Markets   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2015 -- The majority of metropolitan areas experienced steady but slightly stronger price growth in the fourth quarter, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors.

Stonewood Floors Names Martin Senior Vice President   Full Article
Everett, WA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Daniel Martin been named senior vice president for Stonewood Floors.

Mortgage Application Volume Declines Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Mortgage applications last week decreased 9% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

December Foreclosures Lowest Since 2007   Full Article
Irvine, CA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- There were 39,000 completed foreclosures nationwide in December, according to real estate information firm CoreLogic.

Nydree Expands Distribution Agreement With Spartan   Full Article
Forest, VA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Engineered wood flooring maker Nydree Flooring has chosen Spartan Surfaces to distribute its products in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

Mohawk, Shaw, Tandus/Centiva Again on Training 125 List   Full Article
New York, NY, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Training magazine has ranked Mohawk Industries 14th, Shaw Industries 54th, and Tandus/Centiva 66th on its annual list of top training organizations.

NeoCon East Moving to Philadelphia   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Feb. 11, 2015 -- The 13th edition of NeoCon East will be held Oct. 28-29 in Philadelphia.

Small Business Optimism Down Slightly in January   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Optimism among small business owners fell in January, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Job Openings at Highest Level Since 2001   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Job openings increased to more than 5 million in December, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wholesale Inventories Edge Up in December   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2015 -- U.S. wholesale inventories ticked up in December but below expectations, according to the Commerce Department.

Congoleum Names O'Connor CFO   Full Article
Mercerville, NJ, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Congoleum Corporation said that Chris O’Connor has been named chief financial officer.