Discussions and presentations included such subjects as climate-controlled tile, moving tiles that create flexible structures, shadow tiles that modify light dynamics, and even tiles that store light in photovoltaic cells during the day and disperse it at night. Although these applications are still mostly on the drawing board, the meeting showcased several technological leaps now in production. Included are large-format porcelain sheets as thin as 3 mm, which offer considerable weight reduction over thicker designs. Also now production: anti-slip finishes that are invisible to the touch but become chemically activated by contact with water.
Other important trends seen at Carsaie this year included: an expansion of modular formats, which now include sizes ranging from micro mosaics to large-format rectified tile; an ever-expanding color palette, including more warm tones such as orange and red; and an increase in glass and mosaic designs.
Overall, manufacturers said they were pleased with traffic at the show and said they were bullish about the coming year. Juan Antonio Pesudo, export manager for Tau Ceramica, for example noted that his company was successful marketing its products to architects, who then specify the lines in commercial applications.
Despite rising manufacturing costs and an unfavorable exchange rate, many Italian manufacturers have seen their U.S. sales expand in the last year.
"Our business in the United States has been growing this year," said Gain Luca Visani, marketing manager for La Fabbrica, which launched its new Cathay series at the show.
Several manufacturers debuted ceramic tile lines developed specifically for the U.S. market. Marca Corona presented Origins, a rectified porcelain series specifically designed for American tastes. Saloni's new Dallas series of porcelain tile is also aimed at the U.S. market.
"We feel that this series (Dallas) should do well in the United States," said Jesus Damia, marketing manager for Saloni.
-John Moore, Tile & Stone Editor