LEA Ceramiche: Trends in Tile

General / People / Places / Products / April 30, 2012

If Enrico Guazzi at LEA Cermaiche’s U.S. offices is correct, we’ll be seeing more and more porcelain tile that looks like wood, slate and travertine in residential applications in the coming year.

His commercial clients are asking for geometric, linear and clean patterns for their hotels, restaurants and retail outlets.  They want big slabs, in neutral colors with organic shading.  “Greige is back,” he says.  “It’s gray but a little warmer.”

The large floral motifs currently so popular in Europe have not caught on here.

“I think it’s already passed us by,” the Charlotte, N.C. area manager for the company says.  “In the states we’ve had no requests for it.”

LEA made its commitment to cutting edge design clear at last year’s Milan Design Week when Zaha Hadid used the firm’s ultraslim ceramics to create “Twirl.”  It was futuristic, fantastic and created in a Milan courtyard. 

The site was surrounded by two-story columns and an elevated gallery.  The ceramic sheets made of LEA’s Slimtech product line, were arranged to transform the rigid, classical design of the courtyard into a fluid and dynamic spatial construct.  Still, the installation managed to emphasize its arches and curves, while distorting its sense of space.

LEA is one of five Italian companies within the Paneriagroup, which also operates Florida tile in the states, and Magres and Love Tile in Portugal.   Paneriagroup acquired the smaller, family-owned LEA about 15 years ago and began to invest in technology for the firm.”

The company has evolved into a market leader, known for quality, design and technological savvy.  It regularly engages designers like Hadid to prove that point, in projects like ‘Twirl.’

“It showed how easy out material is to work with for the shapes she sees in her mind,” Guazzi says.

For more information, go to http://www.ceramichelea.it/acm-on-line/en/Home.html

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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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