Product Trends: A Boom in Tile Choices
Over three sweltering summer days, the tile world converged upon Central Florida and into the air-conditioned bliss of the mammoth Orange County Convention Center. After skipping a year due to the pandemic, the COVERINGS trade show was back to an in-person event, where exhibitors affiliated with trade councils from Spain, Italy and the United States spread out a hugely impressive array of new tile SKUs, which coincided perfectly with what is shaping up to be the biggest boom in big-project remodeling activity since 2007.
For design-build remodelers and for general contractors working with clients and designers, tile selections have always been critical junctures in the remodeling process. They can also be a source of hang-ups. Surfaces and coverings are a make-or-break proposition for many designers and their clients because tile does much of the heavy lifting when it comes to imparting design style, color, contrast and feeling.
The headline from Orlando is good and bad. Today, perhaps more than ever before, there are more sizes, patterns and color combinations that fit into wider range of legitimate design trends. The downside of that is the incredible focus that remodelers and designers must bring to the process of helping clients make tile selections. Thankfully, the show was staffed by an army of highly-qualified communications professionals who brought in top designers to distill them. Alena Capra, CMKBD (Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer), owner of Alena Capra Designs in Fort Lauderdale took the distillation lead for the team managing the overall show. In addition to providing a list of 10 tile trends, Capra emphasized the durability, sustainability, hygenic traits and versatility of ceramic (and increasingly porcelain) tile
Capra’s Top 10 Trends
Flecked Effect: This trend features a kaleidoscope of colors or floating fragments of shapes, where the patterns lend a burst of energy to floors and walls. From chunky to fine flecks, and large slabs to smaller tiles, the flecked effect offers endless, unique style options.
Gorgeous Greens: Using shades of green with tile textures reminiscent of nature offer a good way to bring the outdoors inside.
Soft Textures: With a growing client preference for toned-down designs, tile options now offer softer and more natural looks as people yearn for a connection to nature.
High Gloss: Glossy tiles offer eye-catching shine and durability for areas that need to be cleaned often, which is why the high gloss trend is expected to grow.
In Vein: The trend toward large-scale veining continues. Marble-look designs are evolving; some have fewer but wider, riverlike veins with flowing movement and clean edges, while others have more angular, frenetic looks.
XXL: Extra-large ceramic tiles are increasing in popularity. This trend enables countless applications and design possibilities, with large-format tiles that come in sizes up to 5.25 feet by 10.5 feet, and thicknesses ranging from 3.5 millimeters to 2 centimeters.
Biophilia: Thanks to advancements in high-definition printing, ceramic tile can be used to achieve biophilic design, which has been found to support cognitive function, physical health and psychological well-being. Ceramic tile designs are moving to more natural and untreated wood looks, as the timber elements evoke calm environments and a sense of nature.
Large Hexes: Non-rectangular tile styles, specifically hexagons, are growing to monumental sizes. Hexagons as large as two feet in diameter can add a lot of additional drama to a space.
Patterned Tile Concrete Lookalikes: Concrete-look tiles will continue to serve as a muse for designers with playful patterns and a broad range of laying schemes that add a dramatic impact on any indoor or outdoor space.
Muted Tones: There is a strong rise in muted tile tones, such as soft blues and greens, that create soothing and relaxing spaces.
Ryan Fasan and the Spanish Exhibitors
Trends from the perspective of a group of exhibitors under the Tile of Spain banner were highlighted by designer Ryan Fasan of Vancouver, B.C.
Warm Tones: Earth-tones continue to rise as we turn to hues that we use to render exterior spaces. Influences of raw nature are subtle with pure organic undertones that speak to comfort and home.
Layers and Texture: Surface finish and texture combine to create a nuanced field that brings hyper-reality to the forefront of design. Technical inks supply the ingenuity and infrastructure to conjure physical textures that relate perfectly to the graphic imagery of a space.
Geometric Sequence: Tessellating geometrics with a rise in hexagons, triangles and chevrons abound. Solid colors finished in both glossy and matte coatings play incredibly well together creating a dynamic yet subtle layer of interest.
Marble Madness: As the efficacy of replicating realistic stones becomes more simplified, we start ranging further afield to create fantastical examples of natural rock. Spanish companies are perfecting the flecked nature of marbled materials by melding hypnotic gemstone hues with deep crystalized veining.
Digital Augmentation: Mid-piece effects and transitions in structure and finish add tiers of detail to build an organic composition. Layered glazes and inks bring depth of tone and finish. Digitally deposited adhesives fix particles of frit to recreate the worn classic glaze.
Small Scale in the Great Outdoors: To celebrate the macro scale capabilities of modern production, we see a return to classic sizes like the 8 in. by 8 in., that call upon iconic motifs and glazing styles of Modernist times and retro design. The rise of smaller formats, especially for exteriors helps satisfy safety as well as aesthetics.
Italian Trend Collages
Ceramics of Italy released its Spring-Summer trends report on tile in advance of the group’s annual trade show in Bologna this month. The group’s report was set forth in six themes “that reflect larger societal trends while solving unique challenges for the trade, from highly technical porcelain stoneware to ceramic tiles in a multitude of formats.” The group sees a “duality” in its themes, from “organic to expressive and minimalist to a new type of traditionalism.”
Organic: Organic shapes and harmonious colors combined with pared-back aesthetics can be seen throughout architecture and interior projects as clients wish to make their homes and businesses feel like a sanctuary. The warm tones, subtle textural finishes, natural material effects, and irregular shapes of these collections can help achieve a beautiful wabi sabi effect for any type of project.
Expressive: In the fashion industry, people are starting to invest in fun pieces —from bold colors to loud prints. The tile industry is responding similarly. There’s a trend toward the bold—multi-colored terrazzo and marble with strong character to saturated hues and ‘trippy’ patterns.
Skinny: While Italian manufacturers continue to expand the dimensions of porcelain into extra-large sizes, skinny tiles are emerging as a new star in tile. Unlike traditional subway tiles, which have a 1:2 dimensional ratio, these ceramic and porcelain tiles are long and slim, ranging from 2 in. by 8 in. to 3 in. by 16 in. They come in many finishes and colors—from matte to glass-like and neutral to bold, offering endless installation possibilities for floors and walls.
New Traditional: Traditional design is experiencing a resurgence as people seek the reassurance in nostalgic nods to the past. This is shown in the growing popularity of antiques, particularly with younger generations who wish to mix new with vintage. The new traditional style utilizes a range of tiles from timeless carrara marble and basketweave to majolica and smaller format tiles.
Minimalist: When projects call for restraint, large-format tiles are a good solution to create uniformity and highlight architectural geometries. Although minimal in appearance, these tiles are the result of intense chromatic studies and special production processes to achieve a perfectly solid color or to emulate the subtle nuances of concrete for interior and exterior applications.