Tile Files: Trends from this year’s Cersaie tile show – Dec 2023

By Kristin Coleman

The 2023 edition of Cersaie proved to be a pivotal one. On top of the show celebrating its 40th anniversary and the milestones the industry has achieved along the way, exhibitors also signaled the dawn of an exciting new era. Tile products were imbued with a holistic sense of inventiveness-color and pattern were bolstered by impressive surface technologies, from extra-soft finishes with high slip resistance to what some producers are calling ‘glossy matte’ effects. Meanwhile, a host of new prefabricated furnishing options and collaborations with design firms signaled the strength of the industry. In addition, carbon neutral collections and the workings of a new industry ISO standard for embodied carbon demonstrated meaningful contributions to the future of the built environment. Here are several visual trends that emerged.

In the words of designer Ferruccio Laviani, “Color is itself a material thing, a pigment which penetrates the slab to become part of it, in tones and in touch.” At this year’s show, color was a powerful protagonist for porcelain as well as ceramic. Laviani, an ongoing collaborator with Lea Ceramiche, designed a new series of decorative effects overlaid onto 12 contemporary solid colors. Meanwhile, architect and designer Piero Lissoni developed a line for Atlas Concorde focused on a vast neutral color palette. Many companies developed collections specifically around color stories, from the chromatic effects of iridescence to the wide-ranging nuances of terracotta, with dusty rose and mineral blue playing starring roles.

After decades of innovating in two dimensions and producing thousands of tiles in unique formats, thicknesses and patterns, Italian brands are looking to the third dimension as the next frontier in design. This year’s collections featured a plethora of three-dimensional tiles, from fluted surfaces and protruding geometrics to reliefs with explosive patterns that, when combined with light, create a constantly changing surface. And as manufacturers work toward producing tiles that look and feel like natural stone, high-definition marble prints are now paired with low-relief veining for incredibly realistic marble looks.

From misty forests to overlapping sheets of corrugated metal, Italian manufacturers are producing a range of mind-blowing optical illusions on porcelain. One of the oldest tricks in the book, used in everything from painting and sculpture to architecture and set design since antiquity, trompe l’oeil offers an exciting opportunity for tile companies to create the look of three-dimensional spaces using two-dimensional surfaces. Designers can use these digitally printed tiles to their advantage, given the technical benefits of porcelain. One can imagine a shower enclosed by billowy drapes or the floors of a spa covered in grooved wood planks.

With tile being an historically integral part of buildings, it’s no surprise that architecture is a muse for tile manufacturers, which was heavily evident this year. On one hand, Italian brands partnered with industry heavyweights including Zaha Hadid Architects, Nendo and Paola Navone to add a disruptive element to a classic shape or a poetic layer to the surface. On the other hand, many companies were inspired by historic buildings and architectural details, from stained glass and milled panels to Byzantine cut mosaics and the floor of the Eden Theater in Treviso.

The allure of natural stone is hard to resist, propelling tile manufacturers to render the rich veining of marble and the preciousness of onyx and gemstones onto ceramic. This year, brands turned up the volume, finding the rarest of stones, from a little-known quartzite in South America to exclusive cuts of Calacatta, or creating evocative amalgamations of stone with bright colors and luminous veins conjuring scenes of the cosmos.

The addition of innovations like soft finishes with high slip resistance, relief-matching graphics and through-body veining made the porcelain stone looks even more appealing for architecture and design.

Copyright 2023 Floor Focus 

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