Tau's booth at Cersaie included this pop mural created by using some of the company’s new porcelain lines.

The 21st annual Cersaie trade show -- which was held Sept. 30 to Oct. 5 in Bologna, Italy -- drew in excess of 97,000 attendees and more than 1,000 exhibitors. These totals represent a slight decrease from attendance at last year's show, a development show organizers attributed to international economic turbulence. Despite the decrease in attendance, business was brisk throughout the show and a wide variety of new ceramic designs highlighted cutting-edge trends in the product segment.

Sicis introduced Glass 3, a mixed mosaic from three collections that allows for creation of stunning patterns.

A shift toward subtlety

One noticeable trend at Cersaie was an increased subtlety in texture and color, leading to a more refined and urban look. Rustic designs that have been predominant in recent years have been softened. They now feature more delicate textures and patterns, as well as deeper colors.

There also was a noticeable use of pastel colors. Yellows and oranges -- in addition to the ubiquitous blues, greens and browns -- were also popular shades. Noteworthy pastel lines were introduced by Vogue Ceramica, Art Color and Marca Corona. White, in myriad shades and finishes, is also regaining popularity, and rich earth tones remain popular, particularly among slate looks. An unusual approach to white was taken by Azuvi's White Fashion, a Zen-inspired collection of different shades of white with colorful glass accent pieces.

Even stone-look finishes, which remain very popular, have softened their visuals by means of lighter veining and smoother edges. Some outstanding stone-look tiles on display at Cersaie included Atlas Concorde's Gallery, an extremely realistic marble look available in polished and satin finishes; Coem's Pietre Jurassica, a natural stone look with rectified edges; Azuvi's Geotech line, which added the new Lena series in six different finishes; and Roca's Rock and Rock, which also featured new colors.

Travertini is the new series of full-body porcelain stoneware by Caesar. Inspired by the travertine of central Italy and Persia, the 45-by-45-cm format series is available in four colors.

A proliferation of patterns

Another trend evident at Cersaie was the increased use of geometric patterns, which were combined with bold, vivid colors to create a variety of unusual designs. Outstanding examples of this trend include Musa's intricate black-on-black patterns, Ceramica Pinto's southern Italian interpretation of a tribal rug, and Fap's Vision, which featured floral patterns.

Bardelli's Ultime Notizie (Latest News) combined colorful butterflies with newspaper clips, while Kronos' Imagine featured blue textural stripes. Marca Corona launched Game, an extensive collection of colorful, three-dimensional tiles. Lea introduced new textural patterns for the popular Progetto 14 series. Art Color displayed Dripping, which featured a tone-on-tone design, and Cotto Veneto exhibited Water Lilies, a floral image available in a variety of colors.

Formats diversifying, mosaics gaining popularity

One burgeoning trend in ceramic is the diversification of sizes. While floor tiles increasingly are becoming larger, smaller designs -- such as mosaics -- have also gained in popularity. Rectangular shapes continue to dominate, and are getting longer and thinner.

This increased variety of shapes and sizes allows for more possibilities in pattern design, and many manufacturers combined different shapes and sizes of tile in the same displays. Examples included Ceramica Di Treviso's modular Totem series, Colorker's Luxor glazed porcelain line and Apavisa's Lifestone series, in which decorative systems are created by cutting the tile into elongated pieces, strips or mosaics that are then mesh-mounted for easy installation.

Game by Marca Corona is an extensive collection of colorful, three-dimensional tiles.

New materials add bold accents

Glass, metals, wood and other non-ceramic materials were integrated with a variety of ceramic lines on display at Cersaie to create a wide variety of new looks and unusual designs. These materials were either incorporated directly into the tiles or used as inserts or trims to create iridescent and shimmering effects.

There were a variety of new glass tiles, including some featuring opaque finishes created via new techniques. Notable glass tile lines included Vitrum by Ceramgres, an opaque glass tile with rectified edges (a new feature for glass tile), and 24% by Brix, a crystal glass series that uses LED lights to conjure various special effects.

In addition, Sicis introduced Glass 3, a mixed mosaic utilizing pieces from three collections to create stunning patterns. Cogir Glass debuted its intricately patterned Formelle Astro, while Bardelli displayed large numbered art pieces rendered in glass. Other notable glass lines included Venturina by Studio Effe, featuring a jewel-like look. Bisazza, whose ubiquitous mosaics featured new colors, also introduced its Canyon large-format tiles made from crushed glass in resin that exude a terrazzo look.

Ceramic collections grow in scope

Another trend evident at Cersaie was the expansion of ceramic tile collections to include all components -- ranging from unified wall and floor tiles to a complete line of trims and specialty pieces -- necessary for a complete and thematically consistent installation.

Notable examples of this trend were introduced by Tau with its new Haus and Teak collections, each of which includes solutions for the whole house as well as exterior spaces. Haus features soft textures typically seen in wallpapers and satin-finish paints. Among popular colors from this collection is a warm coffee shade that coordinates well with the wenge species of wood so frequently used in trendy furniture. Another comprehensive collection showcased at Cersaie was Ceracasa's Betton, which features different colors, patterns and decorative pieces that can be combined in many ways to create very specific and different design themes.