If you’re a tile enthusiast, you know that keeping up with the ceramic tile industry is no easy task,” said Ceramics of Italy in a statement.
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This year, it wasn’t just the patterns and sizes that impressed with their seemingly endless variety and sense of inventiveness. Tile producers have completely upped the ante in terms of surface design, which can be seen in dozens of awe-inspiring, new finishes and textures designed for aesthetics as well as functionality.
Two collections that artfully demonstrate this trend as well as ceramic tiles’ chameleon capabilities include Ceramica Sant’Agostino Lakewood that conjures oiled wood planks with a hand planed surface and Vallelunga Cava whose marble design and satin finish looks like an ancient European church floor.
For years, Italian tile manufacturers have been expanding the definition of a product, offering specifiers a whole suite of surfacing tools around a single idea or design. At first, it was a range of colours, finishes, and sizes as well as complementing decors and trims.
Now, with continued investment in production equipment, many companies are expanding their range of thicknesses – and thus applications – with tiles ranging from 3-30 millimetres including a new 12-millimetre-thick porcelain tile specifically designed for kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, tables and outdoor kitchens.
From three-dimensional tiles that look like giant Lego bricks (Marca Corona Bold) to popular cartoons illustrated on ceramic (Del Conca Felix the Cat), when projects call for playfulness, Italian tile answers in full.
Companies are continuously experimenting with colour, size and patterns to create one-of-a-kind surfacing for architects and designers. They also offer tailor made solutions like Ornamenta’s ability to print large porcelain slabs in any Pantone colour.
Moving beyond common varieties of stone like carrara, statuario, and travertine, Italian tile producers are scouting quarries throughout the world to find obscure marble full of colour and character or digitally manipulating the look of natural stone to create something that is literally out-of-this-world.
For Sicis’ ever-evolving Vetrite collection, the enchanting magic of 13 gemstones are captured and amplified in between giant sheets of glass to create lunar-like landscapes for the Gem Glass line. Meanwhile, Refin Stardust combines the nebulous veining of alabaster with elegant metallic surface effects to create a line of porcelain tiles inspired by the nighttime sky.
From ancient forms and 18th century patterns to tiles inspired by charming places seemingly stuck in time, Italian tile manufacturers are finding creative ways to make the old feel new again. Mixed and matched patterns, like those of 14oraitaliana’s Folk and Ceramica Sant’Agostino’s Vita collections, evoke the imagery and vibrant colours of Italy’s most famous and beloved territories.
Fioranese’s Liquida slabs resemble 1950s-style wallpaper, while the earthy tones and textured surfaces of Provenza’s Terraquea collection recall traditional terracotta ware. Designed with nostalgic sentiments, each of these collections combine the aesthetic and cultural qualities of the past with the technological innovations of today.