Tiles Great and Small
Aric Chen -- Interior Design, 1/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
With more than 500 exhibitors converging on the Italian city of Bologna for Cersaie, the world's largest tile fair, there's always plenty of product to choose from—tiles fired up in every material, texture, pattern, color, and shape imaginable. "The sheer volume and diversity are astounding," reports the namesake founder of New York interiors firm Roderick N. Shade. So what was new in the fairground's 11 sprawling pavilions? "Previously hard-to-get finishes like metallics," Shade adds, "are now in the pipeline."
The chameleon-like possibilities of the medium were in full evidence in products that could easily pass for metal (patina optional) as well as for stone (rough, finished, pebbled) and wood (light, dark, fine-grained, knotty). Exhibitors displayed elegant grooved surfaces, mod circles and waves, trompe l'oeil images of newspaper clippings, and a high-low 'mix of faux leather and cardboard.
Viva unveiled tactile tiles in such irresistible textures as grass cloth and tatami. The manufacturer's colorful new Prêt à Porter collection provided a lively contrast, offering graphic floral and geometric patterns in ceramic marquetry.
In glass mosaics, the dazzling Sicis installation spotlighted Iridium and Glimmer tesserae, used to compose both mannequins and runways. Bisazza brought out bold, ready-to-install patterns ranging from Marcel Wanders's abstracted snowflakes to Carlo dal Bianco's overscale cabbage roses—available in repeats of 10 to 40 square feet.
Elsewhere, it was all about glass-ceramic hybrids. For the new SottoVetro collection, Cotto Veneto applied painterly strokes of colored glass to a ceramic base. Ceramgres's Vitrum Opus line featured ceramic glazed with glass in an array of mix-and-match sizes.
The trend toward seamless expanses showed up at Cotto D'Este and Provenza. Both presented durable 3-by-10-foot porcelain tiles with razor-thin profiles of 1/8 inch.
For eco-friendliness, Ceramiche Caesar's sustainably produced Feel ceramic tiles even exhibited a woody appearance and texture—in seven natural shades. Gambarelli introduced its mind-boggling Oxygena, a technology that infuses ceramics with titanium dioxide, an element that eliminates pollutants with oxygen produced by harnessing the sun's ultraviolet rays. And you thought tile was just for walls and floors.