This year’s Cersaie, the international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings, was its 40th anniversary. The show, which takes place every September in Bologna, Italy, is the place to learn about innovations and trends in the vast (over a million and a half square feet) space, with exhibitors from 28 countries.
Terrazzo was—as it often is—extremely popular. It was displayed in (mostly) huge slabs (as many tiles now are) meant to cover most of a wall in a single sheet. (Bigger and thinner are innovations that frequently outdo what has come before.) New surfaces look smooth like polished stone or marble but are slip-resistant, so they’re suitable for bathroom and other wet area flooring. There was an alluring finish that looked like wax or perhaps waxed plaster, which had incredible depth and subtly.
Pattern showed up in exuberant colors, bold geometrics, and hand-painted in playful designs—often in 3D configurations. There was a Mediterranean blue palette, a Southwest earth tones palette, and myriad stone tones that were shown off in exaggerated scale. New technologies allow tiles to have their vein patterns and colors go through the full tile, so they can be cut and still look like real stone.
Here are some of the major themes seen this year . . .
Palm Azzurro Minimale, from the The Verde Verticale collection by Francesco De Maio, located along Italy’s Amalfi coast.
There was no shortage of bold pattern, in both geometrics—regular, over-scaled, scattered, or irregular—and florals / botanicals. Many of these echoed fabrics seen in Paris during Maison et Objet last year.
Night, from the Twiga collection by Settecento, headquartered near Modena.
Textures: Smooth and 3D
Sometimes it’s simply about an intriguing flat surface that’s been given a character never before seen. At others it’s a more architectural, a three-dimensional approach with raised elements, incised patterns, and shifts in glossiness and reflectivity.
This hand-painted tile floor from the Historic 60s collection at Cerasarda blends motifs from several patterns: Pintadera Verde; Dama 1, 2, and 3; and Cavaliere 1, 2 and 3.
With so much innovation and technology involved in the offerings, it’s nice to see that there is a high demand for hand-decoration. Several booths showed off artisans creating the tiles that were displayed nearby.
Del Conca offers a range of fantastic textures and marble-inspired patterns.
Minerals on steroids had a strong presence, with cross-sections of exaggerated scale creating wild patterns, sometimes reminiscent of a Rorschach test—mirror images meeting at a central axis.
Ceramiche Refin offers a refined terra cotta look in high performance tile.
I’ve Been to the Desert . . .
One particularly surprising trend was a sort of “Santa Fe, Italian Style”, which was shown in displays bathed in warm colors and Southwest tones. If you’re a little intrigued with the warmth of Peach Fuzz, Pantone’s 2024 Color of the Year, perhaps this sophisticated option is for you.
Diamond Decor tiles by Zaha Hadid Architects for Ceramiche Atlas Concord disrupt rigorous geographic repetition for added dynamism.
Black and White
The bold contrast never seems to go out of style. These opposites were definitely attractive, showing up in more—and less—expected versions.
Romantic from Fondovalle’s Dream collection are rectified porcelain made to look like handcrafted linen.
The Softer Side of Cersaie
Despite a lot of trends that skewed bold, there were plenty of new, romantic, and more ethereal finishes. Some of these patterns include delicate florals and other subtle surfaces.
Story by Stephen Treffinger
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