A Trip Through Spain’s Tile: Past and Future
Tile of Spain brings designers and manufacturers together for an immersive and educational tour.
With new developments in finishing materials hitting the market faster than ever, interior designers are in almost constant research mode. Showrooms, samples, and documents offer design professionals insights into how a material might be used. But rarely does this research provide an opportunity to learn directly from manufacturers, in their own cultural and historic context. Tile of Spain, an international brand representing 125 Spanish tile manufacturers, thought it was high time to bring such an experience to the interior design community.
For the seventh consecutive year, the trade organization will illuminate the country’s rich history of craft and forward-thinking innovation. In January, 2019, a select group of design professionals will embark on the annual “Passport to Creativity” tour. Those invited will tour the Cevisama International Tile and Bath Furnishing Show in Valencia, earn CEU credits, and visit many of the family-owned facilities where Spanish tile has been produced for generations.
To get an insider’s view on the Passport to Creativity program, check out the videos from the Tile Story Series, below:
The southeastern province of Castellon has been manufacturing Spanish tile for thousands of years, exporting to nearly every country in the world.
“Seeing the little factories in the hills, understanding the raw materials from the area, understanding the history of the family-owned companies and how they’ve brought them into the 21st century through technology… that, to me, was very special,” said Toni Sabatino, a New York-based interior designer and president of the Manhattan Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Sabatino was personally introduced to Spain’s tile industry as a guest on the 2018 trip, where she learned much about the craft.
Sabatino was inspired by the innovation she witnessed when meeting manufacturers during factory tours and visiting Cevisama. Trends in Spanish tile include everything from scratch-proof high-polished ceramic, to gloss-ink metallic effects, and “sinking” ink.
Variance in surface application was a particularly notable trend for Sabatino as she observed that tile is increasingly being used in wall-covering, for reasons both artistic and utilitarian. In one application, large scale slabs of porcelain replaced kitchen surface areas to serve as both counter space and burner tops, creating a totally seamless appearance due to the highly conductive and durable material.
No-resin ceramic-based tile allows surfaces to conduct heat and serve as cooktops, while 3D digital printing creates micro-textures.
Digital printing and texture mixing has also revolutionized ceramics, making their application attractive and practical for multi-purpose areas; a real-life circumstance Sabatino often finds herself in. For a current residential project in the Hamptons, Sabatino is considering the use of porcelain wood-look tile in place of hardwood in the large open kitchen. Tile’s practicality as an indoor/outdoor transitional material and its durability for that locale and climate is hard to beat, she says.
New engineering advances mean anti-slip tile can remain smooth while dry and turn textured when wet.
“For Tile of Spain, this trip is a unique opportunity to showcase how deep ceramic tile is in our culture,” said Rocamador Rubio, Director of the Trade Commission of Spain in Miami. “Ceramic tile has always been part of the growth of our cities and the foundations of our landmarks. Every year we choose different regions and cities in Spain where Passport to Creativity participants can experience, first hand, the cultural impact ceramic tile has throughout the country.”
Rubio continues, “In addition to being a staple in our history, ceramic tile is at the helm of our future. Nowadays and thanks to the innovation and technological advancements in the industry, many examples of new applications can be seen in modern architecture throughout Spain. All of this, coupled with a visit to Cevisama, Passport to Creativity is our way of inspiring those around us by sharing our cultural heritage through the richness of tile.”
For Sabatino, Passport to Creativity proved to be not only educational and inspirational, but also productive. The product knowledge she gained during the trip was invaluable to her business. Building direct relationships with manufacturers enabled her to further fill her toolkit with comprehensive solutions for the day-to-day design challenges. Eager to share her experience, in June, 2018, Sabatino organized a Tile of Spain event in New York, inviting her new Spanish friends and colleagues to partake in a slice of the tour with the local design community.
“Tile is in Spain’s DNA, it’s everywhere you look,” she said. “You see it on park benches, hospitals, light posts. The use of tile as wall covering, as well as floor covering, has created artful, permanent pieces. Everything you look at feels as if someone asked, ‘How can we use tile to make this?’”
To LEARN MORE about how tile is made and used in Spain, apply to Passport to Creativity!
To see more from the Tile Story Series, CLICK HERE.