The first significant date of the tiling calendar is nearly upon us. Cevisama kicks off in Valencia, Spain, on Monday 5th February and runs until Friday 9th February. While it is a shame for the UK tile industry that the middle three days clash with the Surface Design Show, London, Diary of a Tile Addict will fly out to Valencia on the red eye on Monday morning a report back on all that’s new and exciting in the world of tile design.
Of course, it’s not too late to arrange to visit this premier Spanish tiling exhibition yourself. For those of you who have never been to Cevisama, here is my opinion in brief. It is smaller, less busy and easier on the shoe leather than Cersaie. Since its heyday, Cevisama’s exhibitors have become less international but the event is still supported by most of the major Spanish brands.
For my money, it is worth attending Cevisama just to see what Peronda, Grespania, Vives, Pamesa, Inalco, Ceracasa, and Saloni have on show. And this year I am particularly interested to see what Keraben – now owned by a giant UK-based carpet and floorcovering retailer – will be offering. Plus, of course, there are those great Spanish factories with a more artisanal and decorative ethos, like Natucer and Dune, who always have a surprise or two up their sleeves.
And Cevisama is also a really good excuse to visit the delightful and visually-exciting city of Valencia. Low-cost airlines make visiting very affordable and many new hotel beds were created following the staging of the America’s Cup: so it is easy to find a place to stay, either in the compact city centre or around beach and harbour. The city also has a metro now that links the airport with the city centre and then, via tram, to the exhibition centre. It’s not the fastest way to get around, but it does offer a cheap and scenic alternative to taxis.
Valencia really shines in two areas: food and architecture. It is hard to get a bad meal in Valencia; providing you stick to Spanish and Valencian menus. This a comparatively wealthy, cosmopolitan city, so you get everything from modern minimalism with foams and sea urchin infusions, through to theatres of ham that are a tried and tested homage to the pig. My suggestion: go to a small local restaurant and ask to be fed. Leave your gastronomic preconceptions at the door and eat whatever the patron brings. Unless you are a vegan/vegetarian, bliss will shortly ensue.
If you prefer visual stimulation, Valencia is a wonderful city for architecture. The old city, which has seen significant cleaning and restoration in recent years, offers a taste of historical splendour. Valencia was founded in 138 B.C by the Romans, and the Forum in the Plaza de la Almoina is now a Roman museum. Some time after the Romans, the Muslims took control of the city, and left a profound artistic legacy. Today, a few of the architectural highlights are the Quart and Serrano Towers; and the Plaza de la Virgen and the Cathedral quarter. The Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) is one of the city’s most iconic buildings, with a superb stone façade.
The Marques de Dos Aguas Palace harks back to Spain’s Baroque period, and houses the National Ceramics Museum. But my favourite haunt is the Central Market: one of the biggest markets in Europe and located inside a jewel of pre-modernist architecture. I would also suggest The Colon Market; one of the city’s most emblematic buildings, that has been fully restored and repurposed as a cultural and leisure area, with shops, restaurants and cafes. My final suggestion is the Norte Railway Station both for its striking façade and its fabulously decorated interior.
But no trip to Valencia would be complete without a tour of the City of Arts and Sciences; an absolute must. It is primarily a showcase for the work of renowned Valencian architect, Santiago Calatrava; and several of its buildings rapidly became icons for the city. The City of Arts and Sciences is a scientific and cultural leisure complex, covering around two kilometres of the former riverbed of the River Turia. This landscaped riverbed is one of Valencia’s great achievements; linking many of the city’s day-to-day social interactions. And, while you will need tickets to enter such landmark buildings as the Hemisfèric, the Science Museum and the Oceanogràfic, it is worth it. There is a lot to see.
The Oceanogràfic is Europe’s biggest aquarium, with seven different marine environments, and almost 45,000 specimens covering 500 different species, including dolphins, walruses, sea lions, seals, penguins and sharks. The Hemisfèric is a digital 3D cinema, with a huge 900 metre concave screen, that almost envelops spectators; while The Príncipe Felipe Science Museum offers highly interactive exhibitions about science and technology. The Palau de les Arts is also well worth a visit.
Even if you don’t go into any of these iconic structures, do find time for a walk along is the City of Arts and Sciences. It is one of the most concentrated yet approachable concentrations of high class modern architecture anywhere in the world.
Of course, if you don’t make it to Cevisama this year, you will be able to ready all about the tiles and trends in Diary of a Tile Addict in February. But, if you can find the time, Joe and Hanna really hope you will join them in Valencia in a couple of weeks!
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, January 2018.