Tile manufacturer identifies and explores some of the prominent trends that emerged at a recent international exhibition.

Local tile manufacturer Johnson Tiles recently attended the International Exhibition of Ceramic Tile and Bathroom Furnishings (Cersaie), which took place in Bologna, Italy, from 22 to 26 September.

According to Richard Nuss, Marketing Manager at Johnson Tiles, it was evident that wood, cement and stone designs as well as the ‘ethnic eclectic’ decór trends remain fashionable.

“New themes from this year include geometric designs, monochromatic colour combinations, interlocking tiles and tiles featuring inserts and detail,” Richard explains. He is of the opinion that the following major trends were identified at this year’s event:

War of the Woods
“This year wood was one of the dominating themes,” Richard explains. “There has been a big shift in wood designs and the latest technology in Europe allows for matt and gloss glazes to be applied digitally and simultaneously on the same tile. In Europe, natural wood-looking tiles now come in strong tones, but for the South African market warmer and lighter colours are still dominant.”

He goes on to say that wood-look tiles are also taking the shape of large-format planks and moving away from traditional designs. Richard includes that Johnson Tiles is on par with this trend and is launching its first plank-format, wood-look tiles in a 250mm x 500m size.

Concrete Jungle
According to Richard, metallic colours are a leading trend and high-gloss, reflective and polished concrete finishes in different sizes and formats were prevalent at the show. In terms of colour, tiles varied from light to darker greys.

“Johnson Tiles will be launching its second inkjet printer in December, allowing for metallic and white inks to be printed on tiles thanks to the addition of a sixth cartridge chamber to the printer,” he enthuses. “Our new inkjet printer will offer commercial customers and large commercial projects bespoke and exclusive designs that feature finishes created by reactive ink with gentle reliefs.”

Splendid stone
“Marble inkjet designs didn’t fail to impress at the exhibition,” Richard firmly states. “The European market is defined by transparent marble tiles, opulent marble inkjet designs and large formats; in South Africa, sandstone and slate designs with their subtle, earthy and homogeneous tones remain firm favourites.”

Ethnic Eclectic
This trend includes handcrafted and historical designs and although a variety of greys are still leading, bold and bright colours such as yellow and blue are also making a comeback.

To address this trend, Johnson Tiles manufactures its own range of inkjet tiles imitating encaustic designs of yesteryear. The company also offers a range of field tiles to complement the patterned tiles.

Lessons in Geometry
Richard continues that tiles have been freed from their traditional frame and now include geometric options. “Hexagons were big at Cersaie 2014 and came in designs such as slate, marble, wood-look, patterned, plain, plus large and small formats,” he says. “A trend to look out for is the ‘flattened’ hexagon-shaped tile that consists of three tiles that interlock to form a cube. Interlocking tiles and herringbone layouts were also popular at the show.”

Monochromatics
This trend entails mixing and matching designs, for example, mixing cement and wood. While black and white appeared to be most popular, colour is also making a comeback. “We saw the contrast of red and white as well as brown and white making a statement,” Richard notes. “For South Africans, this trend will likely see more subtle colours such as blue and white, with colour being added through accessories rather than permanent tiles and fixtures.”

Plug and Play
“The industry is moving away from plain tiles and we are seeing more bespoke designs with pops of colour inserted as highlights,” says Richard. “This trend is already making inroads locally where plain field tiles are mixed with décor options.”

Defining detail
“Tiles are becoming more sophisticated and examples showcased this year included a tile that looks like bubble wrap with a bit of gloss; tiles with metallic inserts achieved through water-jet cutting technology; metallic-looking tiles with an opal stone design and metallic trims,” Richard concludes.

Overall, the industry is seeing tiles continuing to increase in size, while mixed formats where different sizes and layouts are being combined with great success, with warmer greys and natural, aged wood taking the lead.