The latest tile trends take the spotlight at Cersaie | by Andrea Serri

Once again this year Cersaie is showcasing tile collections produced by companies from all over the world, and once again “made in Italy” is enjoying the lion’s share, offering a parade of creativity and technology that never ceases to amaze – even in a market that has become accustomed to the extraordinary quality of Italian products. The latest offerings are a combination of two different but complementary areas of research: on the one hand technology, on the other an exploration of the oldest and most traditional artisanal techniques.

The endless range of offerings clearly demonstrates the ability of ceramics to reflect not just the evolution of styles and fashions but the transformations that are under way in society itself, the intertwining cultural elements that underpin traditions and future prospects.

From this heterogeneous melting pot, several different threads emerge to draw the map of trends in 2016.

Under the headings “vintage” and “nostalgia” we find some interesting trends in terms of both decorations and sizes. The Art Nouveau trend that has inspired numerous collections is enhanced by the use of black and gold, set against backgrounds informed by the world of textiles and sophisticated fabric textures. Damasks and brocades are back in vogue, in many cases enveloped in a timeworn patina that conveys the idea of antique upholstery and timeworn wallpaper. The more typical geometries of Art Deco serve not just as decorations but also as interesting design reliefs, their three-dimensional surfaces revealing vibrant sculptural effects, chiaroscuro patterns defined by surface relief. These destructured geometries create a sense of fragmentation, in reality guided by strict rules of modularity. We are also seeing the emergence of abstractionist designs, thin lines that appear to be traced out by pencil to create visually appealing webs of seemingly random lines.

Traditional forms such as hexagons and brick mosaic are gaining in popularity, while the artistic heritage of cement tiles is enjoying a comeback in collections that emulate the colours and decorations of past times, marking a return to the value of handmade products and an appreciation of sophisticated craftsmanship.

“Light” is another important aspect of the collections, although the task of illumination is not assigned purely to gold. Iridescent body materials are also much in evidence, creating surfaces with special light effects, many of which shift in colour according to the point of observation. Metals such as copper, iron, silver and bronze are also playing an important role, both in classically inspired collections and in those that are more typical of the urban style, a trend that continues to turn up interesting ideas. The workshop, garage flavour – a combination of rust and wet effects, of intensely coloured brick and concrete, of wood mixed with sheet metal – is showing no sign of a decline in popularity. The same applies to the wood effect, which has become well-established while continuing with experimentation. It is now going through a second phase dominated by timeworn woods juxtaposed seemingly at random. The magic of ceramic bodies and digital technologies combine to recreate the unique look and appeal of wood from times past.

Decorations that can be categorised under the heading “man” are also becoming increasingly popular, including menswear fabrics such as houndstooth and Prince of Wales, tweed, and even the geometries of regimental and tartan. As for colours, we are seeing a profusion of tones explored with style, from grey to various shades of blue, coffee and tobacco. This category also includes a focus on the world of cars and motoring, with lines inspired by sumptuous briar and leather interiors.