When it comes to tile design, nobody turns out masterworks like the Italians. To honor that claim to fame, Bologna has become the home to , the International Exhibition of Ceramic Tile and Bathroom Furnishings. This fall 1,036 exhibitors from around the world presented their latest tiles in bustling booths filled with chic bath and room vignettes and accompanied by delicious nibbles like Parmigiano-Reggiano and glasses of bubbly Prosecco. Innovative designs, techniques and surfaces pushed the limits of the medium to create striking and inspiring works.
While faux wood surfaces, black-and-white graphics and purple shades were ongoing themes, a majority of this year's exhibitors had launched serious efforts to produce green and sustainable alternatives to traditional tiles and surfaces. Pre- and post-consumer waste, tiles, glass and even cathode-ray tubes from TVs were among the recycled content that had been repurposed. Many manufacturers also reduced the thickness of their tiles, making their products easier to apply over existing surfaces and lighter and more economical to ship.
2010 Tile Trends
Digitally printed tile has been around for a few years, but lately the trend has shifted to celebrating the pixel itself instead of the picture. Using a variety of porcelain techniques, including water jet and hand-cutting, tile makers mixed in jagged edges and abstract forms alongside traditional motifs.
The large floral patterns that have been popping up in an abundance of spring fashion and decor collections have now taken root in tiles and wall surfaces. These blossoms' fresh scale and rainbow of colors are poised to bring whimsy to the bath.
Subtle honeycomb patterns created tactile surfaces for both wall and floor tiles. The trend was apparent in the more architectural- and design-driven brands like Mutina and Brix, who showcased international design stars like Spaniard Patricia Urquiola and Belgian Vincent Van Duysen, respectively.
Forget your old notions of tile shapes and styles. These days anything goes: faux leather, wood, wallpaper, chesterfield upholstery. Tile chalkboards, wainscoting panels and mosaic lights were some of the options presented at this year's fair.
While the show was filled with news and innovations, at the end of the day we sat back and picked our favorites—tiles offering pure beauty, glamour and joy.