What’s it like at Cersaie?

I’m still going through the hundreds of pictures I took last week at Cersaie, searching for trends and curiosities, and selecting the best tiles and companies to share with you over the coming weeks. So while we wait for that I thought I’d lean into the Diary part of our name and talk a little about what it’s like as a Tile Addict walking around one of the world’s largest tile shows.

For those of you who have never been to a tile exhibition, or any trade show for that matter, they are essentially enormous halls full of mini rooms or stands where companies show off their wares. For tile shows such as Cevisama in Spain, Coverings in the USA, Expo Revestir in Brazil, or Cersaie in Italy, we are talking an exhibition space in the tens of thousands of metres squared. At Cersaie there is 140,000m.sq to explore. That’s a lot of walking and a lot of tiles to see.

When you arrive at the BolognaFiere where Cersaie takes place, you’re greeted by large grey buildings, each of which is numbered. You find a door (there are many), get your ticket scanned, and you’re off. To make the most of your visit you’ll need to find a map to carry around. If you’re press (like me) you’ll have to locate the Press Room, get yourself checked in, and obtain your press badge.

This year Cersaie was made up of 14 halls filled with tiles and bathroom fittings and my game plan was to check off each hall and each exhibitor in order, to try and see as much of the show as possible. As I’m only interested in the tiles I was able to exclude the halls that only contained bathroom furnishings, leaving me with eight main halls to explore, planning on visiting the rest if time and my feet would allow.

On day one I made it round 2 halls – 36 and 30 -, both pretty large and full of companies I knew would have interesting things to look at. It took around 3 hours to get around hall 36, taking no breaks and hundreds of photos, scanning each stand to skip past collections I’ve already seen, enjoying the displays, and dipping and diving between the thousands of visitors making deals, talking on the phone, and discussing the latest styles. I made lots of scrawling, messy notes, had a quick lunch, and headed to Hall 30.

For each hall my routine is more or less the same – find a corner to start in, then make my way up and down rows doing my best not to miss any stands. This is easier said than done as most stands have multiple entrances and are designed to make the most of the space they’re given. Winding rooms, massive displays, and even mini cafes can turn you around a bit when you finally exit the stand.

Each stand is entirely unique with different themes, vibes, and even entrance requirements (most you can come to and go from as you please, other times they may ask to scan your ticket. Or if they’re Versace, they’ll quiz you on your credentials). Some are colourfully tiled from the entrance and all the way through, some create art installations, some are built entirely on water. If you aren’t desperate to see every tile that every company is displaying, its much like going to an extremely busy museum full of ham sandwiches and people in suits.

Day 2 saw me ticking off halls 25, 26, and 37, leaving the remainder for Wednesday. Over the three days I spent at Cersaie I took 1,800+ photos that I’ve just spent two days organising and transferring to my laptop. From those photos, a few pieces of literature from some of the stands, my barely legible notes, and my hazy memory, I will establish any trends I noticed and share the most interesting, stunning, or unusual designs I saw. Head to our Instagram for some footage of the show and images that’ll be shared in the coming weeks. Or listen to the podcast for a quick rundown.

A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, October 2023.

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