Cersaie: Staying On Top

The opening press conference for Cersaie 2019 in Bologna , the world’s leading ceramic and porcelain trade show, was marked by prideful confidence. Politicians and sector spokespersons alike hammered home the strength of the Sassuolo District’s world leadership in tiles including its largely self-sufficient production of the high technology equipment used by the region’s state-of-the-art producers.

But the primary reason for attending Cersaie is to suss out latest trends. This said, unlike paint, fabrics, rugs, wallpaper or even furniture, ceramics/porcelain is a full life-cycle building material officially designated for 50-60 years. Annual ins-and-outs, therefore, make less sense. This probably explains the broad eclectic range of designs both across Cersaie and within individual company booths. More insightful perhaps are technology trends changing, expanding and honing tile design. As one company rep put it, advanced digital technology is making quality porcelain less expensive, but by making it easy for anyone to turn out respectable renderings of quality marbles, etc., top firm designers have had to up their game in order to stand above the rabble.

One result is niche products. Stylgraph, historically a “surfaces design company” servicing other companies premiered its own Styl’editions, in part a crisp, minimalist, glass-like tile collection, but primarily geared to harnessing digital technology to offer bespoke panels and client-tendered designs at reasonable costs.

Most engaging is Target Group’s 120cmX120cm, partially hand worked Icon “portraits” of 98-year-old New York fashion maven Iris Apfel.

Against the grain, Leonardo eschews ink jet printing relying only on layering varied natural tones and colours derived from the ingredient materials thus permitting sanding to repair scuffs.

Using only the tones and colours of its natural materials, Leonardo’s Overcome collection eschews ink jet printing.

While some clay-based producers also make glass tiles, Sicis focuses exclusively on glass, using polymer glazes to create often over-the-top gem stone and magma renditions Vetrite Gem Glass.

Using glass instead of porcelain, Sicis offers opulent, show-stopping renderings of onyx and other precious stones.

Advances in digital ink jet printing now achieve high-resolution photographic clarity. This allows cost effective production of an ever expanding range and complexity of patterns with almost a 3D visual qualities, such as 41zero42 ‘s Paper Lux.

41zero42’s Lux demonstrates printing and glazing technologies’ ability to create a sense of 3D transparency, here using a trending botanical image.

This covers everything from monochromatic colours and tones to elaborate, hyper-realist imagery rendering marble, gem stones, other rock, Morris-like botanicals, etc. It also includes graphic patterns – deco, Memphis, large scale graphics, traditional folk and some resurrected icons from famous hotels and villas – often on large scale panels. 41zero42’s Spectre ink jet process creates a “holographic finish” that produces a shimmering iridescence as the view angle changes.

State-of-the art ink jet printing technology allows 41zero42 to create a hologram effect responsive to light.

Off this main trend, advanced silk screening technology allows Decoratori’s Bassanesi to use etched-in mirrored elements that also respond to changes in light angles.

Against the grain, Decoratori’s Vedononvedo collection uses state-of-the-art silk screening technology to etch-in mirror elements that also respond to light angles.

Technology aside, a Cersaie-provided trend sheet, a presentation by Christina Faedi at the press conference and input from over 30 booth visits suggest some “popular” trends.  Stone is hardly a trend, but added to the show’s vast, world-mining range of sometimes translucent and dreamy marbles are equally opulent onyx, quartzite, magma and even replicated painted marble from historic churches. Marble “inspired” lines reach beyond actual stone patterns allowing designers to test their imaginations. These last include Imola’s cheeky Turtle, part of  The Room collection, with real gold veins woven in as well as Emilecramica’s Tele Di Marmo Revolution “marble-inspired” pixelated foliage and 14oraitaliana’s watercolour-like Liquid offering even more creative interpretations. Slabs incorporating large broken fragments provide Rococo discord while finer, colour rich stone conglomerates, such as Fioranese’s  Ghiaia, are both colourful and playful.

Oxidized metal effect tiles, according to the Fap Ceramiche rep, exist in almost every collection including its own Maku metal, Cercom’s Temper steel and Refin’s Foil collection. The last includes Aluminum, Titanium, Burnish, Corten and Verdigris, all scoured by craft metal work-like markings or oxidization effects.

Digital printing dexterity also permits combinations of rich and neutral materials into complex geometric patterns on a single panel such as LaFaenza’s Oro.  One identified trend involves inlaying wood into either refined concrete panels as delicate minimalist inserts or as more robust, stressed industrial-like combinations such as Fioranese’s SFRIDO. Growing in popularity are both subtle “ceramic rugs” or bold inlay-patterned floors as in ABK Stone’s Blend.

Soapstone, limestone and slate, including some with imbedded fossils, as well as ubiquitous if “humble” concrete provide a vast array of subdued, monochromatic alternatives. So do large solid colour panels, particularly in trending muted tones like pale pink or sage green. A reported trend towards a subdued, minimalist aesthetic seemed less important than eye-catching fully rendered rooms that counterpointed minimalist panels against trending florals and “opulent” stone as well as often elaborate graphics and cloth-like “wallpaper” panels.