Musicians are always complaining that, sure, they get to travel the world, but they don’t actually get to see much of it. Living the glamorous rock ‘n’ roll life, they see the inside of clubs and hotel rooms around the world. Trying to check out the sights and get to the show on time can be pretty tough… and design journalism is much the same.
Three days was not nearly enough time to properly explore Cerasie, the annual tile exhibition – particularly in a city like Bologna, where there is much to see outside the show grounds. The city’s art and architecture is interesting enough that at the end of walking miles of tiles each day, I was still willing to drag my aching feet along the cobbles to take in the sights.
Bigger than ever this year – celebrating its 25th anniversary – the show was comprised of a whopping 17 halls of tiles, not to mention additional halls of bathroom fixtures. It boggles the mind that in a relatively small country like Italy, there could possibly be so many manufacturers of ceramic tiles.
Getting back to glamour, Cersaie showed that tiles have been dazzled up a little recently. “Decor” elements are everywhere: sparkles, metallics and elaborate glitz of all sorts. Though these elements were limited to small, subtle accents, there were a few booths, like Scicis’s, that really went over top with the glitter. As a background, black and white is hot.
Other tile trends haven’t changed much – the biggest thing being tiles that look like other things. Digitally printed images of everything from candy to grass can be seen, but tiles that look like wood are still everywhere. However, there is some innovation there, as they really are beginning to feel like wood too.
Oh, and if you didn’t get the memo: size matters. While standard 30 by 30 centimetres is still most popular, companies like Cotto D’este were going big, with the new Kerlite line and its 300 by 100 cm tiles. Though this company did offer a slightly more resistant version incorporating fibreglass mesh, most of the big stuff is fairly delicate and for walls only. But it was teeny tiny tiles that could be found at nearly every booth, with nearly everyone’s line being called “frammenti” (“fragments” in Italian). Long, skinny, pencil sizes are it for accents, on both floors and walls.
If you couldn’t get enough tiles into your day at the show, there were plenty of related offsite events hosted by manufacturers. Casa Mood held a very cool event, right in the middle of a market – you could sip cocktails, nibble on chic hors d’ouevre, take in the new collection, then turn around and order some prosciutto from the butcher’s stall.
Lea Ceramiche hosted another party, showing off its 36h collection at its rural manufacturing facility. Based on a 36-hour “minivacation,” the patterns and textures in the line are inspired by things encountered along the way – i.e., luggage, hotel robes, city maps, etc. The presentation featured an amusing (even once translated) narrative the company hired screenwriter Carla Pacelli to put together.
All in all there was plenty to see in Bologna, but nothing at the show quite matched the city’s Piazza Maggiore and the slightly lewd 16th-century Neptune fountain. Although I’m sure, somewhere in Italy, it’s printed on a tile.
The trend-setting company is well known for creating whimsical scenarios with its mosaic tiles. This year, Bisazza showed off a number of new decoration tiles, including exotic animal-inspired prints like Crocodile Black and Brown, shown in this scheme designed by Carlo Dal Bianco. Part of the Opwus Romano collection, Crocodile is available in a 12-by-12-cm size.
The distinctive Tresor series, from Supergres, features chromatic effects and floral patterns in smooth and relief textures. The wall tiles are available in 2-by-45 and 12.5-by-45-cm versions and six colours, including white, lime and lilac. The porcelain stoneware pieces for the floor are in a 30-by-30-cm size.
Lea Ceramiche’s 36h collection features a number of vacation-inspired patterns and textures, such as City (shown) and Streets, both inspired by an urban street plan. City, the more abstract of the two, is characterized by a metallic effect, on top of a bronze, anthracite and silver base. Both City and Streets are sold in 60-by-60 and 60-by-120-cm versions. www.ceramichelea.com
Part of the Florim group of companies, Casamood chose to unveil its new introductions at its offsite event in a downtown market. Rather than employing elaborate installations, the company proposed a new way of planning a room, with Moodboard palettes. The boards demonstrate the possibilities of the new collections, like the ber-trendy (and appropriately named) Thin, and flashy Maiolica. www.casamood.com
Cersaie marked the relaunch of Brix’s I Frammenti line, designed by Claudio Silvestrin and originally introduced in 2005. The collection’s 10 original colours are now accompanied by five Mix variants (which each incorporate three shades) and seven shiny Gloss colours (shown, in red and green). Each of the 30-by-30-cm I Frammenti modules is made up of over 2,000 5-mm micro-cubes. The modules join together invisibly, creating a continuous surface. www.brix.it
The Blackflower collection from VIVA cashes in on all the biggest trends. Reminiscent of a negative photograph, the glamorous floral print is sold in a durable 100-by-100-cm size. Designed for the company by Patrizia Moroso, the tile is intended for wall applications only.
The Florim Group showed off three lines in an exhibit space that had an entire floor to itself. Floor Gres, Cerim and Rex each were based around an individual theme. The latter is all about neo-hedonism, and boasts a variety of luxurious looks for walls and floors, and for use as decorative accents. Rex’s Glam Wood was one of the shows most intriguing wood patterns, with its liquidy brushed oak wood grain. Available in five shades, Glam Wood is in 20-by-120, 15-by-120, 10-by-20 and 10-by-60-cm sizes, as well as a 6-by-6-cm mosaic size. www.florim.it
Mutina’s Bark, designed by Monica Armani, features coordinating nature-inspired textures suitable for floors and walls. Composed of a homogenous porcelain stoneware, the refined graphics are screen-printed on the sturdier versions, while wallcovering tiles are handcrafted with an extrusion process that makes each one of a kind. www.mutina.it
This tile, from the Materie collection by Ceramica Fioranese, places a metallic, slightly floral, abstract pattern on a variety of large-sized tiles. The Materie series contains several other highly textural surfaces. Available in silver, gold and bronze shades. www.coem.it
Sicis definitely took top prize for most glammed-up booth, shining like a disco ball beacon on the show floor. The company used floors, walls, fixtures, furniture and even mannequins to show off a variety of metallic-and mirror-finish mosaic tiles in elaborate and elegant configurations. www.sicis.it
New introductions from Marazzi included Soho, a series characterized by geometric patterns and uneven wall surfaces. With graphic motifs that evoke a metropolitan landscape, Soho is ideal for larger spaces. Variations for floors and walls can be created with four regular sizes (30-by-120, 30-by-60, 60-by-60 and 30-by-60-cm) in beige, brown, grey and arthracite. Several insert tiles are also included in the line, such as the 1.2-by-30-cm pencil tiles, and floral patterns in 60-by-60 and 30-by-60-cm sizes. www.marazzi.it