Earlier this fall, the halls of the Bologna Exhibition Centre in Bologna, Italy, were packed with exhibition booths showcasing the latest ceramic products. Thousands of visitors from all over the world came to see Cersaie’s very eye-catching attractions. In fact, exhibitors from 34 countries featured their latest products to over 100,000 attendees, keeping Cersaie as the world’s largest tile and bath event.

Celebrating its 31st anniversary, this year’s show did not disappoint as it once again showcased an array of tile collections to appeal to all tastes and to the latest trends in interior design.

Fueled by technological advances, tile manufacturers continue to expand upon the popular stone- and wood-look tiles—with refined textures and patterning. Moreover, contemporary-patterned graphic-designed tile surfaces created visually stimulating displays, while the expansion of tile sizes was apparent and quick installation products also showed a growing market.

An Evolving Fashion

Upon stepping onto the exhibition floor, it was easy to recognize the popularity of stone- and wood-look tile has reached an all-time high, with many exhibitors featuring their company’s unique version of these looks.

“In the U.S., there are two main trends—wood look and stone look,” said Maurizio Turrini, export area manager for Cerdisa. “We followed that trend at Cersaie by introducing a wood look, Formwork, and a stone look, Stardust.”

The Stardust collection is a color body porcelain that is available in 12 x 24- and 20 x 20-inches as well as special trim pieces. The digitalization of stone varieties on the surface of the tiles gives this product line a very natural feel, he explained.

Also exuding tones of nature, Cerdisa’s Formwork collection comes in five sizes—24 x 48-, 12 x 48-, 6 x 48-, 16 x 32- and 8 x 32-inches. The aged look of the tile offers a “shabby chic” aesthetic that pairs well with many materials—complementing various design styles. Turrini noted.

Another Italian manufacturer, Lea Ceramiche, presented its spin on the wood trend with its Type-32 collection. “Lea Ceramiche supplies to almost all 50 states, with the exception of three or four,” said Enrico Guazzi, area manager of Lea Ceramiche North America. “We are featuring Type-32 at Cersaie but it is a tile line we are introducing to the U.S.”

Tile collections replicating a hardwood surface are popular not only for their aesthetic, but also for their strength and durability, he explained. And with product lines available in a range of sizes, including a plank format, they are becoming an ideal choice for many design applications in both residential and commercial settings.


High-Gloss Surfaces

Another trend that was obvious at Cersaie 2013 was glossy finishes. Product lines reflecting the appearance of polished marble were prominent throughout the exhibition space.

Mill executives said advances in technology allow for intricately detailed veining that resembles the natural material. With the elegant look of marble, but the toughness of porcelain, this style can be marketed to residential or public sectors such as hotels, spas or office buildings.

Mirage used Cersaie to display its polished marble-look tile collection named Jewels. It consists of six varieties—Bianco Statuario, Calacatta Reale, Royale, Travertino Classico, Emperador Selected and Fumo di Londra. Catching the attention of visitors, the company displayed two Calacatta Reale slabs book-matched together to demonstrate Mirage’s attention to detail as well as its advances in technology.

Italgraniti Group debuted its own version of the trend with its Marmi Imperiali collection. “Marmi Imperiali is brand new—just introduced at the show,” said Gianni Ruberti, Northeast-Midwest sales for the company’s U.S operations. “Italgraniti’s research and skills have created six amazing varieties of marble for walls and floors. The collection was instantly recognized as one of the highlights of the whole Cersaie show.”

The eye-catching Marmi Imperiali collection comes in glazed porcelain stoneware for the floor as well as white-body wall tile. Ruberti said a notable feature of the collection is its wealth of accessories and trim features.


Customized graphics

Exhibitors were also eager to present their company’s ceramic tiles with custom-made graphic designs, as technological advances allow for intricate details and unique patterns.

Tagina’s Deco Perlage collection, for example, was inspired by the beauty of precious fabrics, explained company officials. It features repetition and sequences coming from contemporary decors. A range of blues, reds and yellows color the grid and floral motif designs, and many delicate and elegant nuances are present in the collection’s patterns. The visual effect moves from ancient floorings of Oriental inspiration to geometric patterns.

From a working group of international style and interior design leaders comes Refin Ceramiche’s Frame Up collection. Developed with Studio FM Milano as an evolution to the previous Frame collection, Frame Up includes four varieties: Two geometric patterns inspired by the artistic avant-garde circles of the period between the two world wars and the early 1960s—Vanguard Circle and Square—and two reminiscent of the sinuous graphic patterns of majolica tiles of the late 18th century—Emilia Flower and Tradition.

According to officials, the fragmentation and decomposition of the design transform historical research into a new contemporary-graphic language, creating a highly original elegant product.


Rapid installation

Installing tile without the use of glue or mortar is possible with Del Conca’s Fast collection. Also featured at Cersaie last year, this quick, dry-laying ceramic tile can be installed over any floor surface without the use of mortar or grout. The tiles from this line are just snapped in and laid over any flooring. Del Conca’s Fast collection has a tongue-and-groove system, and the main export target of this product is the U.S.

The 31st edition of Cersaie was full of creatively designed tiles, visitors noted, saying it will be interesting to see which products will be used on different projects around the world. Many at the market pointed out the improvements in the demand for tile products is a sign of the global financial market getting better, and a reason to celebrate the coming of more beautifully tile-designed projects to be installed around the globe.