From Ceramics of Italy, an Optimistic Outlook for 2022

General / People / Places / Products / April 28, 2022

For those unable to attend Coverings, the  preeminent ceramic tile & natural stone exhibition in North America, A+A is pleased today to share images from Italian manufacturers who participated. We were also able to conduct an email interview with representatives from Ceramics of Italy about current and future trends, especially about Cersaie in Bologna, coming up in late September:

What are the trends today in outdoor living?

The pandemic spurred a heightened desire for outdoor living and socializing, which, in turn, created the need for a beautiful workhorse in exterior environments. Enter ceramic tile, which is an elegant yet hard-wearing material that can withstand extreme weather conditions as well as frost and sun. Italian manufacturers offer all manner of products to transform outdoor spaces including porcelain pavers and pedestals to create instant outdoor patios, ceramic and porcelain tiles for exterior cladding, and special pieces for pool coping.

In luxury?

Although technically a humble material, ceramic has a long, storied history of being associated with luxury. It covered the floors of ancient villas and the walls of historic churches throughout Italy; many of which are still intact today. Although today’s ceramic is more high-tech, hundreds of new collections from Italian tile manufacturers conjure the same luxurious feeling, from artisanal techniques like frescoes and Venetian plaster to large slabs of book-matched marble and semi-precious gemstones like onyx.

In wellness and the environment?

Ceramic is a naturally hygienic material that can improve the atmosphere and air quality of indoor spaces. Made of natural materials like clay and sand, it is designed to last a lifetime but can also be recycled at the end of its life. On top of its inherent sustainable qualities, Italian tile producers offer myriad design options to improve the wellness of a space and the health of its occupants. Plant motifs and natural material looks can be incorporated into biophilic design; thin porcelain slabs can be used to create curbless showers; grip finishes on floor tiles can add an extra layer of safety; and more.

What is the invisible cooktop about?

Produced by our Italian manufacturer ABK, Cooking Surface Prime is the first invisible induction cooking system adapted to porcelain stoneware. The innovative induction system is integrated into the porcelain material, thus eliminating the need for a stovetop. Thanks to its very high thermal efficiency, Cooking Surface Prime is a cheaper alternative than traditional gas systems. On top of the hygienic and durable benefits of porcelain stoneware, the Cooking Surface Prime slabs are extremely safe and only heat when in contact with iron. Available across ABK Group’s brands ABKSTONE, Materia and Gardenia Slabs, Cooking Surface Prime offers new and exciting possibilities for kitchen countertops.

What was the impact of the pandemic on the ceramics industry in Italy?

In terms of trends, after a year in which physical contact was avoided and actively prevented, the tactile experience is now the one that is most enhanced by ceramic surfaces. In fact, Italian manufacturers are producing collections showcasing groundbreaking production techniques for creating hyper-realistic material effects and textures, like stone, wood, marble, concrete, terrazzo, and more with authentic grooves and depressions. The pandemic has also placed emphasis on the theme of sustainability, and Italian ceramics boast superiority in this field. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are made using only a few, well-balanced natural elements, such as earth (clay, feldspars, sand, and kaolins), fire, air, and water. They do not contain plastics and are completely recyclable, fire-resistant, and do not release harmful substances – not even in the event of a fire.

On Cersaie?

After the cancellation of Cersaie in 2020, Italian manufacturers and attendees were very excited to return to Bologna this past September for Cersaie 2021. And, for this year’s Cersaie taking place September 26-30, 2022, Italian manufacturers are looking forward to showcasing their leading designs and technological innovations that are constantly pushing the boundaries of ceramic experimentation.

What’s the current state of the industry, and its future?

The latest stats show that ceramic tile imports rose 22.2% in square meters in the first nine months of 2021 and 29.8% in dollars. And Italy is first in dollars with $487 million, with Italian ceramic imports rising 24.7%.

This year and in the future, Italian ceramic manufacturers will have the opportunity to become leaders in the kitchen and bath space. On top of the aesthetic & functional benefits of ceramic tile, the wide variety of large-format sizes makes them incredibly versatile and suitable for installations ranging from floors & walls to custom furnishings like bathroom vanities, kitchen countertops, islands, & tabletops. The hygienic qualities and easy-to-clean surfaces of these tiles make them especially ideal for food preparation areas like tables & countertops. And, in addition, the new ingenious turnkey solutions Italian manufacturers are creating for kitchens and bathrooms – like ready-to-install ceramic units and porcelain cooktops with integrated induction systems – are sure to become go-to solutions for architects and remodelers.

For more, go here.

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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