Lucky 13

During a long, leisurely breakfast on my free day in Bologna – after three whirlwind days at Cersaie, the world’s largest exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings – I caught myself studying the tile used in the hotel dining room. Clearly my tile indoctrination had been successful, and where better to study tile than in the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, the heart of Italy’s ceramics industry? After those three days of walking what seemed like miles of aisles through various halls full of tiles, encompassing 156,000 square metres, it was a hard not to feel overwhelmed. It wasn’t until I got home and had time to comb through all I had collected that I knew how to make sense of it all. Here, then, is the crème de la crème.


My personal pick for Best of Show goes to Ornamenta’s OPLUS collection of slim laminated porcelain with screen-printed colour, which celebrates the “plus sign”in the most fresh and delightful way. Single signs are turned at different angles in comparison with their centre, giving the whole composition a sort of visual “flicker”; here and there, a few signs are in contrasting colour, adding a subtle touch of whimsy. The aptly named colour families – moving from light to dark – are Chalk, Peanut, Cloud, Simply Taupe, Smoke and Carob.

Hey, goodlooking


Ceramic Sant’Agostino best advanced a trend apparent through all Cersaie halls: the look of men’s suiting materials. Its Tailorart collection of porcelain stoneware presented tile that has the look of fine linen (the colours light, taupe, sand, grey and brown) or – a knockout punch – tartan (in light and dark versions).


Marcel Wanders continues his collaboration with Altaeco, showing two new collections, Eve and Sofia. Both are beauties, with Eve the fairest of the two: a graphic collection of matt tile – loosely inspired by the foliage, flowers and springs of the garden of Eden –hand-painted by two craftspeople.It changes magically as you view it from different vantage points.


Modena-based 41Zero42 is one of the hippest companies on the scene. Its Paper41 range of“contemporary frescoes” (in two sizes: 50x100cm and 50x50cm) are made of slim porcelain with high-res digital glazes, reinforced with a sheet of fibreglass for wall application. There are 10 “stories”in total, each bearing a person’s name (shown: Karl), encompassing seven punchy graphics and three wild botanicals.


What’s black and white and grey all over? The halls of Cersaie. When colour does creep in, it’s mostly shades of beige, brown and terra cotta – but now and then a shade of blue shines through, more often than not the soft, luminous, cooling blue of Fap Ceramiche’s Color Now collection of white-body wall coverings (eight in all), here called Avio.

Great pretenders


Tagina Ceramiche d’Arte keeps alive the ceramic tradition and artisan culture of the Umbria area. New this year is Rivamancina, inspired by wooden roofs covering workshops along the banks of the Navigli canals around Milan. Available in several shades, Rivamancina comes in large 20x120cm sizes, allowing for maximum visual impact.


Cardoso – a dark grey verging on blue –is a low metamorphic-grade sandstone rock formed by the fragmentation sandstone rock. In Ceramiche Coem’s porcelain stoneware version, also produced in warmer shades, pale, striped veins move lightly across the surface, which is soft to the touch yet highly resistant. Available in both indoor and outdoor versions.


The Cor-ten collection from Faetano, a brand of the Del Conca Group, captures the post-industrial air of late-20th-century factories; replicas of studs, hinges and nails add a witty graphic element. Available with an undertone of beige (shown) or grey.


When I say Other, I mean concrete, plaster and such. Lea Ceramiche’s Trame collection of ceramic tiles comprises three textures, one of which is Plaster (soft and spatula textured) and another Matter (rough and opaque, like concrete). But my favourite – and runner-up for my personal Best of Show –is Canvas (shown), characterized by a linen texture with a delicate graphic relief enhancing its three-dimensionality.

State of the art


Wide is ABK’s collection of tough yet lightweight porcelain panels, with a thickness of just 7mm and a record size of 160x320cm. Thanks to their metrics, these panels are ideal for use in large residential and commercial spaces, including architectural volumes designed for custom applications. Shown here is the new collection Alpes, in Wide format, in Sand.


You can’t help but reach out and touch Atlas Concorde’s 3D Wall Design collection of white-body ceramic tiles. Abstract and sinuous motifs with a silky soft, satiny finish are enlivened and enhanced by the play of light. InMesh (shown), rippled lines meet rhythmic, harmonious waves. Others feature geometric patterns (such as Diamond and Grid), strong reliefs (Blade and Kite) or sinuous textures inspired by the natural world (Wave and Ribbon).


Good news for architects: Zurich’s Les Couleurs Suisse, which holds the exclusive rights toLe Corbusier’s “Polychrome architecturale,” has granted Gigacer Spa the license to use the influential Swiss-French master’s palette: that is, 63 colours he approved for use in his design and architecture. Giggler Spa’s Les Couleur Le Corbusier collection of porcelain stoneware so far consists of 12 colours that combine well.


The architectural contingent in our North American group was all abuzz about roof tiles from Ardogres Tegole di Ardesia Cermica: specifically the Ardosolar range. Modules of the Ardolar System – which convert sunlight into electric power through photovoltaics –are designed to integrate fully into Ardogres’s ceramic slate roof coverings.