Tile Heaven

When it comes to tile, nothing trumps Cersaie, the world’s largest exhibition of ceramic-tile designs and bathroom furnishings, which takes place in Bologna, Italy, each fall. Last year at the show’s 25th anniversary, more than 1,000 exhibitors from 32 countries showed their wares to 91,000 attendees. Some trends from previous years were still going strong: floral motifs, for example, remained popular, and the mixing and matching of decorative patterns was widespread. But one of the biggest new influences was haute couture. Major fashion houses such as Versace and Missoni created their own tile lines, and several manufacturers favored textures that imitate the look and feel of denim and silk. Kronos’s Luxury line even had studlike reliefs inspired by Vivienne Westwood’s punk fashion.

Some of this is thanks to new pressing and glazing technologies that enable manufacturers to imitate a wide spectrum of delicate surfaces, from exotic animal skins and horn to fine Italian leather. New technologies are having other effects on the industry as well: tiles are getting bigger and thinner, and they can have high-tech metallic finishes in aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and carbon fiber. Think of Cersaie then as the meeting point for ancient craft, contemporary style, and cutting-edge technology. The following is but a fraction of the thousands of inventive designs that debuted last fall.

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