Drop by Viva

Turning Back The Years

Bloom by Novabell
Bloom by Novabell

As all Tile Addicts thoughts turn to Cersaie 2017, I thought it would be interesting to turn back the clock 10 years and see what was happening in tile design a decade ago.  So the following two posts will include a review of Cersaie 2007, including my take on the 14 top wall tile and 10 top floor tile trends.   As so often in the world of ceramics, readers will find that everything has changed … and nothing has changed.

Columns by Bisazza
Columns by Bisazza

Cersaie 2007

“As the French would express it: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!”  Cersaie 2007 was like déjà vu, all over again … only more so, if you get my drift.  The powerful influence of the Russian market was clearly in evidence again, while the decorative themes of 2006 were refined and repackaged: notably baroque, feminine florals and mosaics.  However, pundits who had predicted a general colour revival were sadly disappointed.  Today, it seem, Henry Ford is back in control of the painting pool.  You can now get your tiles in any colour you want, provided it is anthracite … OK, dark grey, mid grey or light grey, complemented by white and black.

Reptile by Kale
Reptile by Kale

That is not to say there weren’t splashes of colour at Cersaie, but I somehow doubt that scarlet is going to prove flavour of the month in either Stornoway, Skegness or Southend.  However, if the majority of tile exporters are to be believed, scarlet tiles, dramatically presented alongside black and gold, are flying off the shelves in Moscow and beyond. Perhaps it’s time for TSJ to set off on a mystery shopping trip to the former soviet republics, armed, of course, with some suitably hi-spec Ray-Bans to shield our delicate UK eyes from the showroom glare.

As well as the rich red palette, Russian buyers seem drawn to deeply embossed and metallic decors: the result … yet more Bologna bling.

Drop by Viva
Drop by Viva

This trend aside, it appeared that in 2006. after years of monotonal, monolithic minimalism, colour and pattern, particularly in wall tiles, had returned to the market. However, on this year’s evidence, two years later and conservatism has returned. While the baroque and rococo theme has grown in strength, and abstract floral forms remain much in evidence, the colour palette is still very muted. In fact, texture, rather than colour, is now uppermost. However, rather than the animal skins, natural textures and fabric effects that have dominated in recent years, the pioneering new textures are embossed or abstract; engineered and masculine; urban and scientific. Picking up on such pioneering innovations as Tau’s carbon fibre simulation, these new textures are rigidly geometric.

Velvet by Bisazza
Velvet by Bisazza

They are also subtly wrought and dazzling. Many factories are now utilising the almost limitless capabilities of the new generation of direct printing technology to produce these new designs. This has taken the minimalist aesthetic to new levels of surface sophistication.

In wall tiles, there is no doubt that the dominant theme remains Baroque. Everywhere you looked there were rococo twirls, brocade touches and filigree lacy embellishments. However, rather than wallpaper effects that were realised by applying patterned satin or gloss glaze to plain matt field tiles, this year’s theme were monochrome, etched surfaces and restrained elegance. Baroque forms were realised as thin lines on large format white rectangular tiles, gilded figuring on rich plum and prune backgrounds and platinum of anthracite and black.

The other dominant decorative theme for wall tiles is florals. Some photo-realist designs remain and bold impressionistic florals are still popular, particularly when realised as multi-tile floral panels.

Another trend, a development of the recent surge in lustres, is the use of pearlescent and iridescent glazes. This gives tiles an old-fashioned tactile appeal. At Cersaie this year, a new development were the use of high-build glazes reminiscent of vetrosa. These appear on the tile like erupting, gloss. lava – very rich and opulent. Realised in deep purples and rich sea greens, this could prove a fruitful decorative path for wall tiles for some years to come.

For the second year running, Cersaie saw the presentation of complete walls of tiles, where the colours and pattern was gradated across the whole face. This could be a plain neural tile at each edge, changing to a richer hue with a heavy relief pattern in the centre. Running in parallel with this trend was a new presentation of mosaic. Rather than tired melanges and novelty pixellated paintings of Che or John Lennon, the mosaic houses have now embraced geometrics on one hand, and baroque swirls on the other – plus everything in between. In fact, the leading mosaic manufacturers, like Bisazza, Appiani and Sicis, are now the best place to experience the ultimate design possibilities of ceramic tiles. Many of the decorative themes and patterns worked out on these tiny tesserae, it seems, will soon find their way onto the faces of larger ceramic wall and floor tiles in the months and years ahead.

Pop Art designs still abound. However, it is not just the 60s that is now influencing tile design. Influences like the American milk bar aesthetic of the 50s, through plastic fantastic 70s and even the new romantic 80s, are all in evidence.

In addition, surface-sculpted plain wall tiles, which have been with us for some years now, remain popular, but just get bigger and bigger.” 

Part Two of this article will appear on http://www.DiaryofaTileAddict.com tomorrow.
Elipse from Glam range by Viva
Elipse from Glam range by Viva

Key Wall Tile Trends 2007

  1. Baroque: Brocade, damask, rococo: decorated wallpaper effects, often in tones of a single subtle hue or transparent glaze on neutral or muted pastel background.
  2. Florals: Simple figurative designs or airbrushed decors, large patterns, often multi-tile panels, bursting off edge of tile.
  3. Horticultural: Florals complemented both other natural motifs such as seed heads, willow and bamboo stems, bracken and ferns.
  4. Gilding: Gold highlights, especially on listels. Also other precious metals, especially platinum, adding a touch of glamour.
  5. Rich colour palette: The key hues are bold pillar-box red, aubergine, jade and rich orange.
  6. Monochrome minimalism: Anthracite is the key tone for 2008, used alongside black and white and other lighter grey tones, with red and precious metals for emphasis.
  7. Precious stones: Use of ‘jewels’, such as faceted glass, on both listels and inset onto the face of field tiles, to catch the light and add ‘sparkle’ to any interior.
  8. Texture as decor: Leather, tessato, ardesia, quartz, burnished and pitted metal, distressed timber, kevlar, carbon-fibre, engrave metals: any 3D surface can now inspire.
  9. Iridescence: Tone-on-tone effects adding depth, even to monotone tiles.
  10. Surface contrast: Gloss, satin and matt combinations, or polished and semi-polished finishes, add character to monochrome tiles.
  11. Rebirth of the mural: Hand-painted or ink jet applied murals as one-off, high end, decors.
  12. Deep glazes: Ultra-thick glazes, mimicking vetrosa effects, to produce a ‘molten lava’ look, particularly with the rich purple/black colour combinations.
  13. Metallic effects: Burnished steel, rusty iron, polished bronze, beaten copper, glitzy gold, subtle silver: every form of metallic finish is now available to add a touch of luxury.
  14. Retro inspiration: Not just 60s pop art, but 50s, 70s and 80s influences.

A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, August 2017.

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