Las Vegas—This year’s edition of Coverings showcased an impressive array of tiles with innovative sizes, shapes, textures and designs. The March 21/28 issue of FCNews covered some of the major domestic tile producers and their offerings. In this issue, it’s all about the best Italy and Spain had to offer.
In line with current industry trends, Italian tile companies introduced a number of wood and stone looks that were as convincing as ever with many manufacturers using digital printing techniques. Others continue to play with the concept and introduced tiles with unnatural or colorful hues and varying “process techniques,” such as saw-cut wood or cross cut and vein cut stone used side by side.
From a technological standpoint, thin tiles are one of the most exciting trends for their aesthetics, flexibility and ease of installation, according to Danielle DeVita of Ceramic Tiles of Italy. “Because of its slim size, it can be installed over existing surfaces and can often be used for exterior cladding, facades, raised flooring systems and false ceilings.”
Italian tile companies also introduced a number of full ceramic systems, digital design tools and collections that can be used indoors and out to ease the design process for architects and designers. In addition, the industry’s commitment of turning waste into resources was apparent with nearly every booth featuring sustainable tile collections—some with over 40% recycled content or up to 98% recycled glass.
According to Patti Fasan, consultant to Tile of Spain, technology is now catching up to the unbridled creativity, which has characterized the tile industry since the Renaissance. She also noted the green aspects of ceramic. “The tile industry is taking this mandate to heart by striving for zero waste manufacturing and creating product solutions for the modern consumer. These ecologically driven designs are forcing recognition for tile’s environmental benefits.”
The environmental story is not the only important one for today’s consumer. “They need to tell their own stories through their habitats,” she explained. “Consequently, 2011’s color palette is rich, sumptuous and as varied as the seasons. Neutrals are anything but vanilla. Earth-tone palettes are rich and inviting with accent colors saturated and bold. Inspiration for color and patterns are coming from diverse time-periods and locales to broadcast the owner’s interests and travels.”
Italy was well represented at Coverings once again, and Del Conca proved to be one of its brightest stars. The Nat line has quickly taken its place at the top of the company’s product range with considerable strength and character, explained Enzo Donald Mularoni, CEO of the Del Conca Group. “Its highly elevated technological potential makes Nat a product with a strong emotional impact,” he said, “able to enhance both indoor and out- door environments that are rich with an exclusive natural imprinting.”
With the colors of rocky deserts, Nat Nevada decorates the home with the atmosphere of uncontaminated surroundings, Mularoni said. “Drawing its inspiration from North American slate, an ornate geological tapestry brings its surface to life with a splendid design. Nat Alaska is a tile with subtle colors animated by sparkles created through the most sophisticated use of digital technology.”
Inspired by the atmospheres of the eternal city, Docet is a porcelain tile surface that reinterprets one of the oldest and most famous marbles in the world while retaining its timeless allure, he said. The Docet series is highly resistant to wear and tear, available in three shades and five sizes with the 60 x 60 and 40 x 80 available in the rectified and polished versions.
Marketed as part of the company’s Monocibec brand, Ethnos is a porcelain stoneware collection inspired by travertine. It is produced with the technology of non-contact digital decoration and features three-tone colors, six sizes, and natural and polished finishes. Usable on the floor and walls, Ethnos is also available in mosaic and offers several special pieces.
Also new from the company, the porcelain stoneware Modern collection is designed for both private areas and public commercial and urban spaces. It is created through mixing clays, feldspars, quartz and other natural substances refined and homogenized through spray drying. According to the company, the quality of the raw materials and firing at extremely high temperatures enables the company to create resistant and compact slabs, suitable for the most demanding applications.
For Lea North America, the U.S. branch of Lea Ceramiche that promotes its products in the U.S. and Canada, the highlight was Slimtech.
Thanks to the innovative porcelain compaction technology that “revolutionized the traditional production process,” Slimtech is produced in full slabs of 3 x 1 meter without using any mold, said Emilio Mussini, CEO. “Slimtech is ideal for the renewal of floors. Extremely thin and light—a 40 x 40 that is 3mm thick weighs only 15.4 pounds —the thin slab can be simply laid over the old surface avoiding demolition and waste. This drastically reduces installation time and the existing doors don’t need to be cut or filed.”
Slimtech is available in three versions: Slimtech 3mm for walls only; Slimtech Plus 3.5mm reinforced with fiberglass backing for floors and walls; and Slimtech Twin 7mm with a double layer of material and fiberglass in the middle for extremely heavy traffic areas.
The Mosaic+ modular patterns included Area25. The most important color in the glass tile line is green, noted the company, as the collection is, in fact, made using a low- consumption production process to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly product.
The tiles are created by grinding and compressing waste glass and recycling glass-based products. The process creates a material with a high level of resistance, which, according to the company, is suitable for use in environments with high traffic while maintaining the elegance and poetry of the glass mosaic.
Well known for its luxury mosaics, the company introduced its Lifestyle Collection at Coverings, which made its debut as five new color stories and patterns reflecting the tones and current trends in the fashion and home industry.
Lifestyle consists of Mink, described by the company as “luxury and texture” in earth tones; Nude, “purity and innocence” in barely there color; Savile, featuring warm nickel and cool steel grays; Gypsy, “a fresh but calm” offering, and Tango, designed to be both “bold and chic.”
Like Italy, Spain once again came with a strong contingent to Coverings. Apavisa displayed several new products at the show, the best received of which may have been its Neocountry collection. A full body porcelain, the line is designed to be stain and chemical resistant as well as versatile. It can be used for outdoor applications due to its high anti-slip capacity, thus making it suitable for use in wet interior areas, swimming pools and public baths.
Also new from Apavisa is the Iridio collection, a full body porcelain line based on the union of semi-precious stones, metals and stone. It is available in black and gray, a semi-polished finish and mosaics.
As it did just weeks earlier in Spain, the company showcased its exclusive-to-the-U.S., Krismiss series. Offered in natural stone and marble looks, the line is available in a trio of colors.
The company also received good reviews on its new Palace collection, a glazed, polished, rectified product available in 24 x 24, among other sizes. Finally, another in the growing trend of thin tile is the Coverlam collection, which features fiberglass- backed porcelain at 3mm thick and comes in coordinating floor and wall combinations.
The mosaic maker displayed several new lines, most of which feature 98% recycled glass. The custom designs were well received, according to export manager Jose Belsa, who mentioned that the clear, white glass qualifies for LEED points.
A key focus for the Mexico-based company is on developing new products that appeal to market-specific tastes and preferences. Accordingly, Porcelanite-Lamosa launched a collection suitable for the U.S. market through the main brands of the company: Porcelanite, Lamosa and Firenze. This new line includes a variety of products developed with the company’s new Full Definition technology, designed to capture the beauty of nature by reproducing the lines, colors and textures of natural marble and stone with great detail.
In addition, Porcelanite-Lamosa continues with its Green Matters commitment of developing products and services that help its clients as they embark on sustainable construction projects.