At the Bologna fair, designer ceramics abounded, hexagons were on trend, and manufacturers proved that bigger is better.
Despite Italy’s continuing construction market woes, international visitors to , which took place last September, increased over last – a sign that the design world still adores ceramic surfacing. Nine hundred exhibitors filled the halls, and a walk around the show floor demonstrated that manufacturers are continuing to invest in at least two key areas: collaborating with big- name designers to tap the luxury market, and pushing the technology that has made the one-metre-long, three-millimetre-thick tile a standard.
For the most part, super-thin surfacing suits commercial applications, with the emphasis on durability, sustainability, lower cost, and making installation swift and easy. Some tiles, like Saime’s Click ’N Walk, simply snap into place over existing flooring; and Cerdisa gave its recyclable tile, EC1 Levitas, an update by stretching it to three metres in length.
As for decorative options, hexagons appeared at several booths, including Gamma Due, showing off its elegant Ornamenta, inspired by Chinese porcelain; and Versa25’s more playful Uno series. At Sicis, python print in glass mosaic was a crowd pleaser. As for star designers, Bisazza turned to Marcel Wanders to launch its first enameled collection, and Tord Boontje’s metallic florals were seen at Ceramica Bardelli. Mutina, well known for collaborating with famous names, chose to launch its Mews collection, by BarberOsgerby of London, with a splashy dinner affair held in central Bologna.
1 U-Color by
U-color, a series of 7.5-by-30-centimetre planks from emerging Italian firm 41zero42, mix kaleidoscopic colours with a wood-grain effect.
2 Deco D’Antan by
The geometrics of Tagina’s Deco D’Antan ceramic squares inject a graphic punch into contract and residential settings.
3 Type-32 by
Lea Ceramiche invited Diego Grandi to create a design for its hard-wearing Slimtech. Type‑32 consists of four graphics, in warm and cool tones, that resemble herringbone when mixed and matched.
4 Moonlight by
Moonlight creates dynamic optics. The wall tiles, at 20 by 50 centimetres, come in three patterns of two colours each, and 12 solids (including red and blue), six with a wood effect.
5 Frozen Garden by
For Frozen Garden, Dutch designer and Moooi creative director Marcel Wanders was inspired by the crystallization that occurs when frost hits nature. These black and white hexagonal tiles form Bisazza’s first enamel-coated collection.
6 Dream Forest by
Dutch designer Tord Boontje applied his signature whimsical flora and fauna graphics to Dream Forest. Suited to bathrooms or kitchens, the glossy or matte 40-by-40-centimetre metallic tiles come in a neutral palette of black and white.
7 Inside by
Fioranese presented Inside, a square within the square pattern. Inside 60 is composed of two solids, while Inside 50 features a small decorative square (for a total of eight designs), in light and dark variations of brown and beige.
8 Melograno by
Gamma Due presented its Ornamenta series of six highly decorative tiles, including the hexagonal Melograno, which takes its cues from ancient Chinese porcelain in shades of cobalt blue and white.
9 Flexible Architecture by
Philippe Starck introduced tiny mosaic tiles to his Flexible Architecture, a line launched by Sant’Agostino last year. The collection is designed to enable limitless patterns using the existing 30-by-30-centimetre chrome, glossy or matte squares.
10 Uno by
Verso25 applied sophisticated designs such as leaves, pixels, lines and dots to its hexagonal Uno collection. The tiles, measuring 13.8 centimetres per side, come in coordinating neutrals of black, taupe and cream.
11 Neocolibrì by
Iridescent bird wings, dazzling waterfalls and this slick python print are some of the mosaics that can be assembled from the over 70 colour varieties Sicis launched for its nature-inspired NeoColibrì collection.
12 Mews by
London’s BarberOsgerby referenced bricks, wooden floors and irregular geometrical patterns of its beloved town for Mews. This collection for Mutina consists of 120 neutral shades and suits contemporary or traditional settings.
13 Cento per Cento by
To celebrate its centennial, ImolaCeramica created Cento per Cento, a collection in such retro hues as aqua, yellow, brown and purple, defined by a mix of smooth and textured 12-by-18-centimetre tiles with a glossy finish.
14 Pietra Splendente by
Coem’s polished and veined Pietra Splendente is ideal for public areas that require hard-wearing surfaces, such as retail spaces and hotels. At Cersaie, two new colours were introduced in three sizes, up to 60 by 60 centimetres.
15 Noor collection by
Mirage, the company responsible for the flooring and cladding at such conglomerates as Louis Vuitton, Campari and Bacardi, added large-format 90-by-90-centimetre tiles to its pebbly Norr outdoor collection.
16 Icon Outdoor by
Florim’s Casa Dolce Casa introduced Icon Outdoor, a 70 per cent recycled tile for outdoor use. Features include resistance to thermal shocks, frost, salt and slipping, as well as a no-fuss jointless installation that facilitates rainwater drainage.
17 Bios Ceramics by
When sunlight hits Casalgrande Padana’s antibacterial Bios Ceramics cladding, dirt deposited on the surface decomposes and is eventually washed away by rainwater. The tiles also purify the air and eliminate the amount of nitrogen oxide emitted by 11 cars, every 24 hours.
18 EC1 Levitas by
Cerdisa increased the size of its recycled EC1, making it one of the largest and lightest tiles on the market. EC1 Levitas comes in one-by-three-metre modules, and two smaller sizes, in 18 neutral shades.