If your impressions of tile begin and end with white backsplashes and marble floors, an entire world of surfaces is dying to make your acquaintance. The fashionable ones hail mostly from Italy. Geometry rocked all sorts of angles and curves at the 38th installment of Cersaie (the International Exhibition of Ceramic Tile and Bathroom Furnishings), the industry’s go-to tile design fair in Bologna, where designs included matte, shiny, and textured finishes—even 3D looks.
Sexy, slim porcelain tiles continue to make a strong showing in large formats that stretch to 5×10 feet—so much that Italian makers now use the word “wallpaper” to describe painterly murals, eye-catching toiles, or fool-the-eye shagreen. The wood-plank look is still warming up, with tactile grains, amazing parquets, and weathered colors now available thanks to digital technology. Even shou sugi ban, the ancient Japanese technique of charring cedar wood, is spot-on. Stones took on a bolder scale and unorthodox hues, like Electric Marble from Sicis, which is actually fabricated on a polymer film sandwiched between Vetrite glass slabs.
The Italians tackled fabric textures—from wool to damask to silk—with incredible fidelity to warp, weft, and display appropriate sheen. Other decorative patterns ranged from the organic—including hand-painted depictions of cacti, palm prints, feathers, or gourd-like shapes—to dazzling Op-Art effects. Retro vibes hit past decades for inspiration: One collection was modeled after the TV show Happy Days, and another gave a fun nod to the mid-’60s and ’70s comic-book heroine Valentina from the late artist Guido Crepax.
Porcelain replicas of terrazzo were sometimes ramped up in chunky bold scale, or they took on embellishment in overlays. And while Dimore Studio’s new Corrispondenza collection seems to channel the 1970s, its origami-like designs also lead with a rich palette that seems fresh and likely to stick.