We are well into another autumn season as Halloween quickly approaches and that means another Cersaie- International Tile & Bath Expo has passed.
The fair, held in Bologna Italy is a who’s who of the tile industry and offers a sneak preview of what’s to come for 2013. As buyers are primed to fill their warehouses with the December shipments and designers & press hunt the newest trends. No self-respecting tile aficionado and trend-hunter can afford to miss this event, especially with the added benefit of the coinciding truffle festival filling the local restaurants with delectable al tartufo creations.
If you do choose to make the trek to Italy to experience Cersaie for yourself, take a couple tips from a veteran.
- Bring comfy shoes & extra socks- the fairground’s multiple buildings sprawl across 375,000m2 (or over 4,000,000 square feet) Forget your heels ladies, even the fashionista Milanese spurn these in favor of flats for this fair. Changing into a fresh pair of socks at lunchtime will make an unbelievable difference.
- Forget taking a taxi home from the show. Queues can be over an hour long. The city bus is not much better, you are best to take the hotel shuttles or walk if possible.
- Look for rental by owner apartments for your accommodations. There are plenty in the city near transit and amenities. Hotels can increase their rates by over 300% during the week of the show.
Enough of my digressions, on to the meat of the show…
Tile of Spain manufacturers had a strong showing at this fair and some of the most exciting product in my humble opinion. The Cersaie 2012 app, available for most smartphones made planning my days and finding my favorite manufacturers easy.
This year’s collections were subtle improvements and updates on the prevailing trends for 2012 more than a complete revamp. The focus was on providing consumers with a means of personal expression through advanced production techniques and complimentary but varied design language that made it a very good year for tile. Everything was just a little more refined this time around with better finishes, more sizes and higher technical characteristics. This year felt like a 2005 Rioja that got better with another year of aging- hint, if you come across a 2005 snap it up! It was a very good year.
The color palette remained largely the same with an emphasis on an expanded range of neutrals providing the backdrop for most installations. I love how the new neutral palette has shifted to encompass greyed-out examples of many colors rather than the boring vanilla beiges of the past. You can see a hint of purple, orange, blue or green to many of the neutrals this year lending depth and giving a means of coordination with multiple patterns and accents.
The accent colors this year are connotation heavy, reminding us of our favorite things much like Oprah’s holiday specials did. The colors in this year’s collections do more than simply providing punch to a neutral composition, they remind us what we love or loved in the past. Evoking memories of comic books, fresh summer produce, fragrant exotic spices, Good Humor ice creams & popsicles or pivotal historical periods.
This feeling of reminiscence moves beyond the color wheel and into the design inspiration for many new collections. Vintage looks found their way into woods, stones and classic tiles. Often with a new take or modern twist to increase their relevance without taking away the charm that made them special.
One theme seen repeated by many manufacturers was a look hearkening back to classic tiles from around the world like British encaustics, Moroccan concretes, Andalucian geometrics or Dutch Delftware. Again, usually with a modern twist these reboots breath new life into a classic look. I warmed me to see this as a tile lover & historian myself because it transmits the industry’s joy in its ability to finally realize a goal from the industrial revolution; to recreate the beauty of classic hand-made looks through advanced technology.
Weathered looks and pristine high-polish glamour were found in equal measure, often in the same setting creating a pleasing tension and foil for each other. There are many wood looks with a worn-off paint look and stones with wear-patterns and natural patinas. Just as most people have their dress clothes, casual wear and their favorite cozy weekend sweaters, so too can the spaces we create. The industry is really playing to us as individuals this year- celebrating humanity in all its facets in the medium of ceramics for us to use our spaces as a means of personal expression.
Metallics are still around and continuing from last year there is a preference for burnished, antique feeling for the metals rather than blingy, in-your-face opulence. These metalics bring a sense of age and culture rather than status to a space and again define an aspect of the user’s life and personality.
Many of these looks were achieved with higher technical characteristics like metallics useable on floors, high polished porcelains without pinholes or the need for surface sealers, and anti-slip finishes without the use of corundum. Most if not all of these advancements would escape notice from most people not interested in the chemistry behind the industry but what wouldn’t escape notice is the pricing. Many of the novelties presented were available at little or no increased cost to the consumer! Thanks to advancements in the capabilities of ink jet printing with reactive inks (creating relief on flat surfaces) metallic inks, and the ability to glaze and ink in the same machine, there has been a focus on a decrease in production costs- welcome news for everyone.
One technical achievement that stood out, both for its importance and presentation to attendees was Inalco’s revolutionary new format for SlimmKer of 1x3m (or 30×90”). This format in itself is nothing new for the industry; however, Inalco has pioneered the production of this format with traditional dry-press techniques. Until now, this format was only possible with the lamina-style production methods, which due to the production process necessitated a flat profile. By using a dry-press punch, textured surfaces are now possible in these large formats. Manufacturers will be able to press one size of tile and using current cutting methods offer multiple sizes without changing their production lines for each size, cutting downtime & costs. Exciting!
Once again, the European fairs have infused me with inspiration and passion for this ever-evolving industry. I can’t wait to see the refinements and novelties presented this February in Valencia at Spain’s International Fair, Cevisama. Do yourself a favor and take yourself there if at all possible. The experience is one of a kind.