As a tile journalist, I spent a lot of my time evaluating a multitude of new tile designs and then separating them into a set of neat ‘trend’ boxes to give readers what will – hopefully – prove to be a useful handle on this constantly evolving and complex market.
The problem is that the tiles keep escaping from my boxes. No matter how hard I try, leaps in production technology, and the constant search for competitive advantage, means that manufacturers both anticipate, and react to, the market with new products that defy neat labels.
At Cersaie this year, there were many composite ranges that brought together different design trends in one collection allowing them to tick more than one of the roaming tile buyer’s boxes.
Chalk, from Marca Corona is a good example. It reflects the fact that small formats are enjoying a renaissance, largely due to the ongoing popularity of the subway tile. Interestingly, many manufacturers were also reporting significant interest in small format floor tiles. For wall tiles, the key format appears to be 75 by 300mm, an elongated subway shape. However, 200 by 200mm, 150 by 300mm and slim rectangles are also in vogue. Incidentally, there were probably more 100 by 100mm tiles on display in 2017 than in any other year in this century.
Encaustic cement, and other takes on the geometric style, remains a strong look, with multiple patterns mashed together to create a layered cohesive aesthetic. Many such designs come in the traditional 200 by 200mm format but can also by printed as decoration on larger format tiles.
Geometrics are back in many minimalist collections this year, either as overlays or in tone-on-tone versions. Decors are stronger this year than they have been in a while, but are quite understated and can easily be used in place of field tiles. Accents, it seems, are now made for entire walls or floors instead of as accent strips.
With all tiles that are trying, and succeeding, in looking like other materials, the honest ceramic that looks like nothing other than a ceramic tile is having a resurgence. With centuries of experience to draw upon, this industry has some ancient glaze techniques that pair wonderfully with emerging technology to create some new takes on the timeless design space. Employment of sinking inks in pooling glazes create wonderful depth and shades of colour; while digitally applied metallics add cost-effective options with some upscale elegance; while soft digital accents can deepen colours or enhance the natural structure of the tile.
Confirming the commitment of the Marca Corona Line 1741 for experimentation, Chalk is a concrete-effect collection that combines delicate tones with bold shapes. On one hand it explores cold and chalky nuances. On the other it makes great use of the rhombus shape (187 by 324mm), and suggests a large variety of installation schemes, thus allowing installers to create virtually endless decorative compositions. Chalk is completed by 75 by 30mm bricks – that format again – that recall the look and feel of unplastered and re-painted stone walls, and the classical 200 by 200mm tile.
There are four grey backgrounds available – White, Silver, Grey, and Dark – that recall the irregularities of concrete. The 200 by 200mm and rhombus tiles are complemented by an original colour mix, made of diverse coloured backgrounds, from light dusty pink to sage green, from sky blue to yellow, create elegant chromatic geometries. Sophisticated cold and desaturated tones also characterise the 38 geometric patterns, offered in 200 by 200mm version, which can be combined with each other or used against coloured and grey backgrounds to striking effect.
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, November 2017.