As an eventful 2017 comes to a close, we know that everyone is searching for the trends that will define the world of international design in 2018. Following Cersaie, the world's largest exhibition of ceramic tile and sanitaryware furnishings, Ceramics of Italy has gathered the top 10 tile trends that were dominating the booths of hundreds of exhibitors and are sure to influence interiors over the next year.
Certain trends like terrazzo and nostalgia-inspired tiles are becoming a staple for companies, while traditional stone and wood looks are being reimagined to create an entirely new category of design. With a greater emphasis on healthcare and wellness, tiles are also becoming a reflection of this theme with an increased push for sustainable factories, botanical prints, and earth tones in the tiles themselves. These ten trends are sure to inspire the residential and commercial interiors that will be the highlights of the coming year.
While floral designs have been around since decorative tile was invented, botanical is a new trend that reflects two movements in the design industry. The first is a focus on health and wellness and the incorporation of the natural world into interiors, which research has shown contributes to human health and productivity. Meanwhile, the influence of tropical modernism has seeped into interiors and product design, which can be seen in this year’s abundance of palm, cacti and, other flora-inspired patterns. Collections include Wide and Style by ABK, Verde Verticale by Ceramica Francesco de Maio, Abitare la Terra by Cerasarda, Dream by Fondovalle, Pulse by Keope, Botanical Tale by Mosaico+, Overlay by Refin, Natural by Roberto Cavalli Home Luxury Tiles, Incipit by Valentino by Ceramiche Piemme, and Decorandum by Vallelunga.
Tile companies are constantly seeking new ways to add movement and volume to the flat surface, whether by texture, pattern, or tromp l’oiel effect. Deconstructed is the most recent example, featuring a breakdown and reconstruction of shapes that transcend the traditional rectilinear format of a tile. Many of these collections are created by designers known for their eclectic approach, like Studiopepe and Paola Navone, and range from kaleidoscopic patterns and floating geometric shapes to fragments of seemingly broken tile. Collections include Studios of Casamood by Casa Dolce Casa, Shades by Casalgrande Padana, Corrispondenza and Palladiana by Ceramica Bardelli, Fragments by Ceramiche Piemme, Bonbon by Decoratori Bassanesi, I Cocci by Fioranese, Metafisico by Ornamenta and Vanguard by Pastorelli.
Drawing their main inspiration from natural elements, a wide range of Italian tiles fall into this theme. Color palettes range from dirt, clay, and sand browns; forest, moss and grass-like greens; red and golden tones reminiscent of the sun; and shades of blue to evoke an oceanic feel. This trend has become popular partially due to a revival of 1970s style along with a greater focus on nature and its ability to create a sense of natural serenity. Collections include Wide and Style by ABK, Corrispondenza by Ceramica Bardelli, Frammenti by Ceramica Rondine, Terre Vietrese by Ceramica Vietri Antico, Graph by Ceramica Vogue, Omni-Touch by Edilcuoghi, Cozy by Flaviker, Res Art by Fondovalle, Bleecker by Marca Corona, Lamelle by Ornamenta, and Geomat by Tonalite.
Designers and brands frequently look to other cultures for inspiration, which are exemplified in this year’s tile introductions. For Marazzi’s Grand Carpet collection, Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel turned to the East to create large ceramic slabs enhanced with the tactility of oriental carpets, Indian temporary ritual tattoos, and the Kolam tradition of ephemeral rice floor decorations. Meanwhile, LaFaenza was inspired by a specific cave in Slovenia to create the Radika collection and Imola’s Koala is a doppelganger for eucalyptus wood, typically native to Australia. Thanks to advancements in digital printing, these rare materials and handcrafted techniques are available in hard surfacing to all. Additional collections include Frenchmood by Ceramiche Supergres, Brooklyn by Fap, Greek by Gardenia Orchidea, Sicily by Imola, 65 parallelo and W.Zone by Leonardo, Vienna by Unica, and Seamless by Unicom Starker.
While some companies recreate the look of wood or stone to an impressive degree of realism, others mix different materials or handpick certain characteristics to form a whole new typology. This fusion of material-looks and themes results in a surreal, imaginative interpretation of tile and a potential new language for interior design. For Nextone, Lea Ceramiche combined stones from four different quarries while Sicis’ new iteration of Vetrite infuses marble designs with metallic veins to create unique materials that can't be found in nature. Additional collections include Marmo Mix by 14oraitaliana, Essential by Astor, Horizon by Ceramica Panaria, Gems by Isla, Conkreta by LaFaenza, and Square by Settecento.
People often look to design for an escape and, in this current political climate, it's unsurprising that companies are turning to the past to bring people a euphoric boost. For their third comic-inspired collection, Del Conca recreates the feminist world of Guido Crepax on ceramic tile with his 1960s comic-strip heroine, Valentina. Meanwhile, other companies were inspired by simpler times, using square formats, candy colors and retro patterns reminiscent of the 1950s like Happy Days by Cevi and Confetti designed by Marcante-Testa for Ceramica Vogue. Additional collections include Wide and Style by ABK, Metrica by Appiani, Blu Ponti by Ceramica Francesco da Maio, Cementine Boho by Fioranese, Swing by Petracer, Aquarel by Tonalite, and Vienna by Unica.
Everywhere you look there is an overarching softness and romanticism in the design world with gentle curves, washes of color, and the unmistakable touch of an artist’s hand. Tile is no exception with this year’s collections featuring hand painted patterns, sketches, and illustrations, marbled effects, and watercolor designs. Standout collections include Pad by Patrick Norguet for Lea Ceramiche whose irregular lines and delicate shades create a soft, sensual effect and Corrispondenza by Dimore Studio for Ceramica Bardelli whose hand-painted decors create a polychromatic kaleidoscope of soft tones. Other collections include Wide and Style by ABK, Verde Verticale by Ceramica Francesco de Maio, To Be by Cercom, Paintwash by Elios, SpazioChiaroScuro by Litokol, Manifesto by Ornamenta, Sketches by Settecento, and Kora by Unica.
Moving beyond the celebrity of millennial pink, shades of blush, lavender, sea green, and pale yellow can be found in dozens of floor and wall tiles. Less saturated than primary colors, pastels create a light, soft, and calming effect, which dovetails with other current trends. Collections include Mek by Atlas Concorde, Palladiana by Ceramica Bardelli, Confetti by Ceramica Vogue, I Filati by Ceramiche Brennero, Colorline by Fap, Slash by Imola, Chalk by Marca Corona, FineArt by Sant’Agostino, and Nurburgring by Tonino Lamborghini.
Already a popular trend in interior design and fashion, terrazzo started popping up in the tile industry last year and has grown to become a potential new mainstay, on par with marble, wood and concrete-look designs. Dozens of designs are now available ranging from cement to epoxy terrazzo, traditional to modern colors, and glossy to matte finishes. As opposed to traditional terrazzo, which can become very slippery or fade when used outdoors, porcelain offers a durable, versatile, and cost-effective alternative. Collections include Le Veneziane by Cerim, Venezia by Cir, Terrazzo by Coem, E Street by Edilgres, River by Flaviker, Pinch by Marazzi, Imperial Venice by Novabell, and Pure Marble by Sant’Agostino.
A departure from the soft, romantic effects of the other trends, weathered is a style with staying power. From stones with scratch marks and colored rustic planks to rusted tin tiles and oxidized metals, these tiles mirror an ongoing fascination with unfinished spaces, worn surfaces, and vintage effects. A good example is Treverklife from Marazzi that reproduces the look of Venice’s iconic “briccole” with signs of erosion from seawater and tiny circular holes left by wood-boring molluscs. Additional collections include: Ghent by ABK, 20Twenty by Emilceramica, Montpellier by Fioranese, Tube by Imola, Metaline by Italgraniti, Velvet by LaFabbrica, Type by Marca Corona, Glocal by Mirage, Voyager by Refin, ColorArt by Sant’Agostino, Pierre de France by Serenissima, and Il Cotto by Tagina.