Italian home furnishings designers are always at the cutting edge. For evidence, look no further than the ceramic tile category, where Italian suppliers are constantly developing trendy looks and new technologies that offer average homeowners a rich variety of options.
Texture takes center stage in many new collections, with floor and wall tile designs ranging from naturalistic faux wood grains and petrified woods to sophisticated industrial interpretations of concrete and cement. There are minimalist monochromatic sculptural styles, as well.
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Realistic renditions of wood are especially prevalent this year, as more and more suppliers have begun using digital printing to simulate the patina of petrified, aged, or reclaimed wood. A wide range of colors and sizes are available, including squares and traditional wood ‘plank’ forms. Examples include “Wood2” by Refin, “Nature” by Sant’Agostino, and “Wood Talk” by Ergon (pictured above).
On the opposite side of the style spectrum are suppliers presenting ranges that reflect a more industrial inspiration. “Reverse” by Floorgres is one example (pictured above), but numerous designs actualy emulate the look of poured concrete and cement. Offered in a wide range of finishes and colors, these tiles capture the essence of urban chic and can be used in a variety of contemporary home settings.
Designers also are using three-dimensional effects, particularly in monochromatic wall tiles. When the light refracts off these sculptural surfaces, it creates interesting visual effects and generates a sense of movement within a space. Examples of this approach include “Goccia” by Kravitz Design for Lea Ceramiche (pictured above), “Skyline” by Naxos, and “Vulcano” by Giovanni de Maio.
With all of the emphasis on texture, it comes as no surprise that shimmering metallic tones are becoming popular once again, especially when used as decorative embellishments. Gold tones add an air of opulence to any interior environment, and tile makers are offering a wide range of elegant patterns (like “Gold” by Cottoveneto, above) as well as bold, high-profile accents, such as “Soli e lune” designed by Piero Fornasetti for Bardelli.
Tile companies are also softening the look of ceramic floors by creating tile patterns that mimic the appearance of bold geometric area rugs or ancient handwoven carpets. Some examples include “Convivium” by Ariana, “Mediterraneo” by Cedir, and “FapNatura” by FAP (above).
Innovation is not limited strictly to design, however. A significant technical trend has followed after the development of self-laying and quick-laying flooring systems, which make installation easier for professional installers as well as do-it-yourselfers.
In the self-laying category, suppliers offer 3/4″-thick porcelain slabs that can be dry laid over grass, gravel, dirt and sand or installed onto patios and terraces using an adjustable raised flooring system, without the need for grout or adhesives.
Suppliers are also promoting quick-laying floor systems that can be used over existing floor coverings. For instance, “Clip Tile” by Imola (above) features an adhesive-free dry interlocking technology; similarly, “Del Conca Fast” is a patented system for installing ceramic flooring without joints and mortar.
All of these advances in tile design and technology have had one important result: They’ve allowed consumers to create highly styled and profoundly personalized looks at reasonable prices.
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