The moods that inspire Italian ceramics: poetry | by Cristina Faedi

To illustrate the latest ceramic trends unveiled at Cersaie 2017, this year I drew inspiration from an article I read recently by Li Edelkoort, an international trend guru in the fields of fashion, fabrics, interiors and food.
In her article, Li Edelkoort analyses the current sociocultural trends and predicts what she believes will be the trends of the near future.
Her analysis reveals mounting concern and uncertainty about the future, an ever-greater desire to live fully in the present and at the same time a strong urge to revisit the past. Amidst today’s cutting-edge technology and strong focus on materials research, we are seeing a growing tendency to value craftsmanship as a quality that is gradually disappearing.
Edelkoort identifies four moods that paint a “portrait of time” and which I believe are highly relevant to the development of ceramic trends: poetry, memory, comfort and design.

Let’s begin with Poetry.

The “poetic” aspect of ceramics reflects a return to a form of decoration that is strongly rooted in the past and which enables the material to assert its original nature, namely that of a repetitive decorative “pixel”.

This nostalgic movement was much in evidence at Cersaie 2017 as part of a long-term trend towards a vintage genre that has now established itself as contemporary. It is fuelled by a heritage spirit that combines a reassuring sense of familiarity and well-being with an aesthetic appeal that has stood the test of time.

With an eye on the past coupled with a contemporary spirit, today’s ceramic products create ambiences with a distinctive and slightly retro aesthetic while at the same time delivering exceptional levels of performance.

We are seeing a return to the materials and patterns of classical architecture but revisited according to a fresh, relaxing and romantic style.

One example is the look of “cementine” or “cement tiles”, artisanal artistic floor tiles made from cement mixed with marble powder and colouring oxides first developed in the late nineteenth century and subsequently adopted throughout Europe, Latin America and the United States. They remained popular until the 1930s, after which they gradually fell into disuse and were replaced by terrazzo and industrially-made ceramic tiles.

With its focus on the values of craftsmanship and hand-made products, this revival allows for a high degree of customization of floors and walls throughout the home, including the sitting room, kitchen and bathroom. The virtually unlimited installation patterns range from strict classical geometries through to random patterns or combinations with other plain coloured elements.

The small accent pieces coordinate with ever smaller sizes, including 20x20 cm and even 10x10 cm, without neglecting larger formats with a revisited contemporary style, new colours and ever bolder geometries. Surface finishes tend to be either glossy or soft, almost dusty, while decorations are increasingly innovative.

In the most elegant and least rustic form, we are seeing ever greater reference to the styles of the early twentieth century, particularly Art Deco with its passion for essential and elegant geometric forms and Art Nouveau, which was dominated by a nature-inspired aesthetic and decorative research. Tiles are likewise seeing a proliferation of both floral decorations and geometric patterns, becoming lighter and more irregular, sophisticated and elegant in their style and details.

Remaining in the field of decoration, the textile aesthetic continues to exert a strong influence on ceramic tile production, taking the form of patchwork compositions and intermingling with other materials. The textures are either rigorous or delicate. In particular, we are seeing a return to brocades and damasks, wallpaper and worn paint, elegant botanical designs applied to sophisticated mosaics where the decorations extend beyond the edges of individual tiles, and ultimately large size tiles with floral reproductions clearly inspired by nature or old herbariums.

Ever elegant, fashionable and meticulously designed, Italian ceramic tiles are ideal for use in both residential and commercial applications, combining an age-old tradition with a modern, elegant compositional style that focuses attention on every detail.

January 2018