Welcome to tile town

 The population of Bologna swelled in late September as the 30th edition of Cersaie served up the latest designs and technical innovations in ceramic tile to thousands of visitors. Not surprisingly, it was a smorgasbord of trends and influences being integrated into this medium. Bold geometric graphics,intentionally random patterns and encaustic-inspired tiles were popular design motifs; size obviously matters with new dimensions of long planks and super slim (3-4mm) and thick (20mm) options becoming more prevalent; and of course sustainable initiatives such as self- or environment-cleaning ceramics were a hot topic. 


Philippe Starck plays with the idea of joints for his first-ever ceramic tile collection Ceramica Sant’Agostino. The joint, which is typically minimalized or hidden entirely, becomes a central feature and decorative modular element for Flexible Architecture. It can be specified on each tile side, a combination of sides or none at all to create an endless array of architectural compositions. A variety of thicknesses (7mm and 12mm), surfaces (matte and glossy) and colours (white, yellow, grey and greige) also add to the product’s flexibility.   ceramicasantsgostino.it


One of the undisputed kings of glass mosaics, Bisazza continued its collaboration with major international designers with the launch of three new mosaic patterns at Cersaie 2012: Kumo-Cloud and Hana-Flower designed by Nendo; and a design by Marcel Wanders called Bloem, mounted using an andamento technique (shown).  bisazza.com 


ABK’s Soleras is a collection of porcelain tiles inspired by the wooden staves from barrels used for Criaderas y Soleras, a technique for aging wines and spirits like sherry, Madeira and brandy. With a beautiful patina, the tiles are available in two plank sizes with a hand-planed appearance.  abk.it


Bardelli launched two new lines by Davide Pizzigoni designed to be mixed and matched. Orchestra is a set of 15 wall tiles, each with a different musical instrument, while Ventagli (shown) is intended to evoke the lightness of air by featuring a colourful array of fans with close-packed folds and embellished with designs featuring small animals, flowers, leaves or fruits, on 16-by-16-inch glossy white wall tiles.  bardelli.it


Azulej, the latest porcelain tiles designed by Patricia Urquiola for Mutina, are inspired by ancient handcrafted majolica and made of hydraulic cement. The 8-by-8-inch glazed porcelain tiles are available in three neutral base colors (white, light grey and dark grey) in a choice of nine patterns, which means 27 different design options. The result is a deliberately random patchwork of tiles for floors and walls, both indoors and out.  mutina.it


To create a mixed wood effect, Emilceramica uses HD technology to transform photographs of 50 fossilized wood blocks into the Petrified Tree collection. Bark reproduces the bark of fossilized wood with a rough-hewn, anti-slip finish, while Core reinterprets the petrified core of wood. This line is available in three colours: Beige Tiger, which is made of exotic minerals, iron and manganese (shown); White Lion, which contains smoky quartz, silicates and ferric oxides; and Grey Panther, which contains coal and cobalt.  emilceramica.it


The influence of fashion on tiles could be seen in this year’s influx of fabric-based collections. The I Tessuti collection created by Elena Strafella for Cottoveneto features an interesting fabric-inspired composition of exceptionally small natural stones called micromosaics in a range of patterns, including Scottish (shown), Tweed, Shantung, Tartan and Twill. All use thin lines that cross in remote corners, creating refined orthogonal geometries or elegant linear effects.  cottovenetogroup.it 


Ceramiche Refin’s Frame collection, designed by Milan-based graphic-design agency Studio FM Milano, comprises 30-by-30-inch square tiles that take traditional patterns from majolica tiles of the 19th and 20th centuries and run them through the re-interpretation mill for a more graphic, avant-garde design.  refin.it 


Fincibec SpA used Cersaie 2012 to launch Antibact: a proprietary antibacterial technology that significantly enhances the sanitizing effects during cleaning and does not require sunlight to be activated. Technica by Century is the first tile collection from the Fincibec Group that features this technology. The LEED-compliant porcelain tiles are available in six colours, three modular rectified formats and four different finishes. 


Casalgrande Padana unveiled Bios Self Cleaning Ceramics, which uses Hydrotect technology from the Japanese brand Toto to create self-cleaning, anti-bacterial and pollution-reducing tiles. The Hydrotect coating contains two active agents: titanium dioxide, which is photo-catalytic; and a formulation of metals that offer antibacterial and antivirus properties. The technology is especially useful for exterior cladding and can be applied to all Casalgrande Padana products.