Alpina is part of the Porcelanosa Ston-Ker collection of porcelain tile. Ston-Ker is an extensive program that has developed a highly slip-resistant surface which features a smooth, non-gritty texture designed to combine safety with easy cleaning. Alpina is offered in 17 1/2-by-26-inch format and comes in three natural colors including gray and beige.

Pompei is part of Roca's Mosaicos Collection. It is available in 11-by-11-inch tile, scored into 128 rectangular mosaics, or mesh mounted to clad the most demanding architectural shapes such as curves and columns. Pompei is available in beige and ochre, and features a weathered finish.
More than 84,000 attendees filled the recently renovated Feria Valencia exposition center March 4-8 for Cevisama 2003, the 22nd International Trade Fair for Ceramics, where new ceramic products from almost 1,200 exhibitors were on display. Despite concerns over travel safety, attendance for the show was down only slightly, less than 1 percent from the previous year, which represented a very strong showing in today’s uncertain market.

Of course, the main reason crowds throng to Valencia each year is to witness the latest trends in style. As usual, there were numerous innovations and refinements relative to color, texture, formats, and applications for ceramic and porcelain tile.

Boston, a basket-weave pattern of woven leather, is the latest addition to the Diago Gallery Collection. Boston is a 13-by-13-inch glazed porcelain tile available in ivory, ochre, tobacco, and mocha.

Refined, sophisticated textures

Textures continue to be a focal point of ceramic design. This year, there were countless variations on the ever-popular natural stone imitations, which are rapidly becoming hard to distinguish from the real thing. Products such as Bari by Italgres, Porcellanatto’s Sandstone, Tau’s Chateaux, Halcon’s Jasper, Azuvi’s GeoTech, and Roca’s Rock and Rock all had innovative new designs that imitate natural stone looks.

In addition to stone textures, many new textures -- emulating a variety of materials, such as sisal, straw mats, textiles, and even unfinished concrete -- were also represented at Cevisama. Standout designs for texture included Saloni’s Uchi, a subtle and refined texture designed to imitate Japanese paper panels, and Grespania’s Tunez, which replicates the look of natural leather with uncanny accuracy. Another innovative texture was Diago’s Novecento, a large-format wall tile that convincingly mimics the color and texture of wallpaper. One new texture this year was unfinished concrete, as seen in Rocersa’s Futura and Ceracasa’s Cemento.

Dulcinea Esmerelda by Gres de La Mancha is an extruded, red-bodied glazed ceramic tile with a traditional terra cotta look. The series is available in 12-by-12-inch, 6-by-12-inch and 6-by-6-inch sizes, with numerous hand-painted listellos and accent pieces.

Bolder colors bound for U.S. market

Although neutral shades of beige, gray and white continue to dominate the palette of product lines tailored to the U.S. market, many manufacturers indicated that this trend is slowly changing and that U.S. consumers are warming to bolder colors, particularly in the Southeast and Southwest regions of the country. Shades of brown are gaining popularity as a new neutral of choice, and blues continue to be popular. Some lines that emphasized bright colors were Keraben’s Pop, which featured bright oranges and blues reminiscent of 1970s designs, Roca’s Antares, and Decorativa’s Billancourt. In contrast with the sleek, modern styles and textures prevalent this year, renewed interest in traditional looks such as mosaic tiles and terra cotta emerged at this year’s show. Products such as Decorativa’s San Remy and Rocinate by Gres de la Mancha showcase modern applications of traditional terra cotta design. Mosaics ranged in style from ultra-modern glass and metallic styles to traditional designs such as Roca’s Pompei, which imitates ancient Roman mosaic tiles.

Tunez by Grespania is a rectified wall tile that emulates the look of leather. The series features a smooth surfaces with a satin finish. The 11-by-23-inch tile is available in brown, ochre, beige, and charcoal. The line's complementary decorative listels and inserts feature minimalist geometric designs.

Greater diversity in formats

Large formats -- such as 12-by-24 inches, 16-by-16 inches and 18-by-18 inches -- continued their increase in popularity, particularly in series that combine wall and floor tiles. There was also an increase in smaller formats such as 6-by-6 inches, 3-by-6 inches and 4-by-4 inches, as well as unusual sizes such as 4-by-24 inches and 6-by-24 inches. Another popular trend was the combination of multiple formats within the same design to create a variety of geometric patterns. These patterns were often seen in horizontal rather than vertical arrangements in wall-and-floor combinations.

The use of metallic inserts and accents showed no sign of slowing, with many manufacturers offering bold, modern designs incorporating all types of metals, such as stainless steel, copper, mirrored finishes, and even gold, as well as glass, metal, and natural materials such as gemstones and amber. Standout uses of metallic inserts and accents included Azteca’s Coimbra, Jupiter by Colorker, Grespania’s Gotha border accents, and Porcelanatto’s Durango series.

Saloni's Uchi is a 12-by-24-inch wall tile that replicates the texture of rice paper in three light airy tones. It is complemented with a 12-inch woven rattan relief tile named Tatami.

More growth anticipated for ceramic market

Despite recent economic difficulties, the U.S. market for ceramic tile continues to grow -- a development that offers suppliers numerous opportunities for expansion. Cevisama 2003 showed that ceramic manufacturers are ready to capitalize on this opportunity by offering a wide variety of ceramic and porcelain tile designed expressly for U.S. tastes. Judging by the increased variety of colors, textures and formats on display, manufacturers are betting that this taste is becoming more diverse and sophisticated.