Revestir 2014: A review of Brazil's tile show - April 2014

By Ruth Simon McRae

Expo Revestir 2014 was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil from March 11 to 14, 2014. It was an opportunity for the world to see all of Brazil’s ceramic manufacturing—tile and sanitary ware—as well as other types of floorcovering all in one place. Of the 250 worldwide manufacturers, 80% were Brazilian. There were other companies from the global community; Italy had a small yet impressive presence. There were also a few other companies from areas as far flung as Croatia, for example. 

Brazil is one of the world’s major players in the ceramic tile market, ranking second in both production and consumption. In 2013, 913.5 million square meters of ceramic tile were produced in Brazil, with 93%, or 851.4 million square meters, consumed domestically and about 62 million square meters exported. The biggest export market is the rest of South America, with smaller volumes to the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

A number of years ago, some Brazilian manufacturers were getting a foothold in the U.S., most notably Portobello with three offices and five warehouses. All of these ventures were shut down in the wake of the recession. The only Brazilian company with operations in the U.S. is Eliane.

Brazil has awesome size and potential. Its economy is seventh in the world. It has the world’s fifth largest territory with an area of nearly three-and-a-half million square miles and is home to 190 million people—not to mention its tremendous stores of natural resources.

From a styling perspective, Expo Revestir was a feast for the eyes. Finally, ceramic flooring has moved beyond pale imitations of wood, stone and other material looks. The range of wood looks included beautifully tinted barnwood styles and plenty of wood planks that were indistinguishable from the real thing. One such product is Ecovilla from Decortile, a wide plank barnwood design colored softly with pastel accents. Portinari showcased embellished wood planks that appeared hand-carved, such as Carvalho Décor and the “cross cut” planks, Carvalho Cross.

At Expo Revestir, manufacturers tended to show many different types of products within one space, either isolating them into vignettes, or layering them almost in a jumble within one space. The best booths were those that were more edited. One real standout in this respect was Portobello. Portobello produces around 36 million square meters per year, outsourcing additional material from small companies in Brazil to complement its portfolio. The firm’s design director, Stephan Gale, does a great job with his diverse product line, providing a highly refined yet fresh and inspiring color palette. New product introductions included Les Roche, a high definition interpretation of classic marble that included the blue Azulejo Baqueira, inspired by its namesake stone from Bahia. Portobello’s BIS (Best Industrial Stone) also included some very nice textures. 

Portobello is one of the three largest producers in Brazil. The other two are Portinari and Eliane. Portobello and Portinari are higher end brands, while Portinari’s sister and parent company, Cecrisa, operates in the mid to lower price points. Eliane offers product at all price points.

Portugal was the inspiration for another of the dominant trends at the show. The majority of manufacturers introduced at least one style with a patchwork of Portuguese tiles, similar to those seen on traditional home exteriors in Portugal. Portinari had a nice version of this look, in neutral tones, as did Eliane in its Essence style. It was surprising to see so much pattern in flooring, and the look may be more appropriate for the Latin American market. While it would work in small feature areas residentially in the U.S., it is out of sync with the needs of the contract market. 

Portinari also showed a subtle pattern, the tone-on-tone Tapeccaria, a pale and distressed deconstructed imagery inspired by carpet. Another notable style in flooring was Mescla, meaning ‘mixture’ in Portuguese. This one product combines three visuals—cement, concrete and stone designs—within one SKU. It is very subtle and attractive. 

The trend for pattern tiles combined with that for aged and distressed looks at Ceramica Elizabeth. Hydraulic Textile combined Portuguese tile motifs with the overlay of a textile-like texture, producing the retro look of a 1970s era casement fabric. Elizabeth also showed many new wood introductions such as the distressed Hill Valley and a lovely variegated cement look, the smaller format Classico Cemento.

The prevalence of ornamental yet distressed designs seemed to be 180 degrees away from the clean, spa looks often associated with ceramic tile in the U.S. This may have to do with the culture and traditions of Brazil itself and its Portuguese roots.

Gail is known as a market leader in flooring for professional kitchens and factories. Its extruded technology is ideal for making unique profiles. For example, it can create concave areas on the back of the tile for better adhesion to the floor. This process also allows the firm to create shapes that can be attached to floating wall and flooring systems. Gail currently exports primarily to South and Central America, the Middle East and Africa, and it is in the process of making changes to its manufacturing lines in order to increase capacity and make tiles in sizes that are appropriate for the U.S. market.

In contrast to the larger format tiles and rustic looks, Atlas offered a range of smaller scale tiles and mosaic-type materials with high gloss glazes and luscious colors. 

The Spanish company Dune also showed some unique, fun materials for both walls and floors. The small boutique-like space showed eclectic design, including some traditional geometric and medallion type styles that could be combined to create a very modern look on the floor.

At the other end of the spectrum, Cosentino featured Dekton, a large format material manufactured in Almeira, Spain. With a technology that is a hybrid between glass, quartz and ceramic, Dekton is offered in four thicknesses. Its size is 126”x57”, and it can be used to form a monolithic floor with only 2mm joints. Dekton can be used for cladding and interior walls as well as flooring. 

Ceramics of Italy showed a group of manufacturers in a cluster of smaller stands. As usual, each of the booths, although compact, had a high impact. Each company featured a few carefully selected, stunning looks.

Expo Revestir was an excellent opportunity to view the wide range of styles and options available from Brazilian and other international manufacturers. There was much to see and learn, which could be even improved with more linguistic diversity. It can be daunting for an English-speaker to navigate the show. Expo Revestir offered a series of presentations on interior design, economics, technology and architecture in its International Forum of Architecture and Construction with five themed events, as well as hands-on workshops. Unfortunately a translation to English, or in many cases even Spanish, was not provided to any of the educational events. This made it a challenge for non-local attendees to get the most out of attending the show. Hopefully, this will be remedied next year.

Fifty-one thousand professionals attended Expo Revestir from a total of 54 countries, a 6% increase over last year’s show. Plans for the exhibition in 2015 are underway, with 80% of the exhibitors already on board. The next edition of Expo Revestir will be held in Sao Paulo on March 3 to 6, 2015.

Copyright 2014 Floor Focus