By Emily Bowbridge
Volume 26/Number 20; February 18/25, 2013
Valencia, Spain—In the 1960s, Bob Dylan sang about boots of Spanish leather, but in the 21st century, praises are being sung for Spanish ceramics and tiles. The 31st edition of Cevisama attracted approximately 70,000 visitors from 78 countries to shop the latest stone, ceramic, and sanitary ware and building and design solutions from 673 exhibitors. Armando Ibáñez, president of Cevisama, noted that nearly 25% of the visitors were from international markets.
Though attendance overall saw a decrease, a notable increase in international visitors mirrors the general trend of Spanish tile consumption. Domestic sales dropped by 20% over the last year, but exports of Spanish tile increased by more than 10%.
“We are more internationally targeted this year,” said Pedro Riaza, secretary general, Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER). “I think this year we can give ourselves a noteworthy grade because we are doing well considering the [fiscal climate].” Export figures released by ASCER indicate Europe and Asia as the top consumers of Spanish tile, with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Russia and Algeria emerging as the top markets.
ASCER announced at the fair several new initiatives, including co-location with the Habitat home goods fair in 2014 and a new Contract Business Area to provide Spanish ceramic manufacturers with insights for growth in contract, institutional and hospitality applications. The group also revealed a new logo program for its Tile of Spain brand. As the first logo redesign since the 1980s, ASCER has done away with the hot pink brand color derived from the hue of traditional hosiery worn by Spanish toreadors, or bull fighters, and opted for a vibrant red, the color internationally associated with Spanish culture. Side-by-side squares mimic two tiles, connected by what could be seen as a grout line, and the symbolic tilde is of unmistakably Spanish origin. The symbol culturally reinforces the unchanged brand name, spelled out in a direct and unembellished font, to help distinguish the national brand on the international market.
A new advertising campaign that incorporates the latest product trend toward metallics also sports a new tagline—“Distinctively Unique”—that speaks to the advanced technological capabilities of the Spanish tile industry. The updated ad campaign, developed by Spanish designer Enric Aguilera, illustrates the distinct capabilities of tile to adapt a certain look or appeal to a particular market, embodied in a color—gold—that suggests exclusivity.
“Spain is a highly creative country, a quality that is consistently featured in practically any project,” Aguilera said. “The key to this campaign lies not only in selecting the color, but also managing to use it in a subtle, rather than overwhelming, manner.”
To meet international market trends and capitalize on the most promising areas of growth, Spanish tile manufacturers have invested heavily in outfitting production facilities with the latest technology to produce unique and innovative products. The advent of high definition inkjet printing has enabled visual reproductions of virtually any image that can be put on paper, from life-like photographs, to textural minutiae and brand logos.
This technology that has revolutionized entire flooring categories has been widely adopted by ceramics companies and has become an integrated tool of success. Digital inkjet printing capabilities have facilitated detailed and on-trend products with much shorter lead times at a fraction of the cost required to produce a less-advanced equivalent.
Spanish ceramic producers have designated entire warehouses to exclusively produce inkjet–printed products that can address slight changes in interior trends and consumer preferences. For example, the character wood trend that has seized the residential market—as well as certain commercial segments such as hospitality—exhibited a slight but notable move toward cooler undertones at Cevisama. Warmer notes in character wood variations are more prevalent in the U.S. market, but the bluish grays seen in Canadian and European interiors appeared as a strong theme in both wood and stone looks.
“The economic climate has actually been good in a lot of ways for the industry as restricted budgets have forced specifiers to look at all the industry has to offer rather than lazily specifying porcelain carte blanche,” noted Ryan Fasan, technical consultant to the U.S. market for Tile of Spain. “Manufacturers are responding to this demand for value with some of the most interesting material I’ve ever seen and often at lower prices than what has been available for years. The evolution of inkjet, reactive glazes and optical illusions are firing imaginations and sparking some of the most creative product yet.”
While most companies are running a much more lean production program, several are also adapting manufacturing processes to address the latest preference for metallics and textured glazes. Plaza, a company that has exported product to the U.S. for the last 15 years, has converted an outdated hand-painting factory into a third-firing facility to produce tiles that sparkle.
Following are a handful of companies that exhibited trend-forward products at Cevisama.
The cooler character wood trend was met head-on with digital image printing on Sonar Vestige, a porcelain plank made from 47% recycled content, available in 2 x 36- or 4 x 36-inch formats. An R9 European slip coefficient renders the flooring suitable for residential use but is not appropriate for wet or greasy conditions, according to Health and Safety Executive, an independent, third-party work-related health and safety agency.
Meanwhile, heavy metals stood out on Solid Gold Focus and Solid Silver Focus from the Instant collection, a highly mirrored, ceramic 9 x 30-inch wall tile with mosaic texture.
Phuket, a white body wall tile, also features a digitally printed glossy metallic, but its rectified edges allow for a seamless installation across its fish-scale texture.
Exclusive licensing for promotional products bearing the Madrid and Barcelona soccer team logos showcase Azteca’s acute technological capabilities, as do several of its residentially suited products. The deeply textured Bubbles, aptly named for its geometric concave reliefs, can be further enhanced with the metallic finishes of the Pulpis R90 series.
And Titanium for floors introduces the trend onto a porcelain/ceramic format that can withstand foot traffic with a brushed metallic that dresses up a floor without distracting. The metallic Titanium comes in two sizes—12 x 24 and 13 x 13—in three colors. The porcelain tile’s lack of porosity is suitable for outdoor wall applications, but the delicate glaze that achieves the glamorous sheen is only suitable for residential floor use.
The nearly 40-year-old company achieves international appeal with its Icaria stone-look floor and wall tile, in both slate and sandstone looks on durable porcelain. Four colors—blanco, beige, antracita, and ocre—incorporate cool and warm tones to maximize market appeal and reach a broad audience. Large format 23-inch floor tiles are available with rectified edges, and 12 x 23-inch wall tiles come with non-rectified edges.
The Madeira series hits the character wood trend in nine warm and cool crossover shades on 40 x 10-inch rectified planks. It comes with a natural, anti-slip finish for residential use. Metallics were achieved through the raised glaze sunburst patterning on Velvet, a white body, rectified wall tile in white, cream, graphite or brown with a light sheen to enhance luminosity.
The company also introduced a social media campaign that encouraged visitors to tweet their favorite Keraben collections under the hashtag “#kerabentrendingtopic.” The campaign broadened product exposure outside the fair booth across Instagram, Tumblr and other social media platforms.
A Spanish company with deep roots in the U.S. market, Pa-mesa has long sought international market share, producing 1.6 million square feet of tile each year. Its Davos collection, available in 12 x 12 or 12 x 24 formats, is an unglazed, technical porcelain in three finishes for wall, floor and outdoor use. Unique to its international
niche, Davos in a semi-polish also complies with the newest COF-standards from the Tile Council of North America (TCNA). It is available in three warm colorways and three cool colorways to appeal to both the North American and European markets.
Textured glazes were seen on Décor Berlin, which requires a carefully regulated third-fire process at a temperature high enough to burn oxides within the glaze while fusing the remaining metallic elements to the unaltered body of the 8 x 25-inch tile. Plaza has distributed its products throughout the U.S. for the last 15 years, and currently sells its product exclusively through agents.
The rapidly growing Vives stood out at Cevisama for its myriad product introductions, of which many hold several patterns under one collection. One such line is Zoclo, which encompasses reclaimed wood (Cimbra Natural), industrial textures (Escala), floral presses (Dintel), and hydraulic cement looks (Plinto). Digital printing prowess is also demonstrated in graffiti-style Bloque and aged-newspaper look of Burfil Marfil—both for walls. All patterns in the collection are printed on a red body clay tile, a local material for Vives that helps cut down on material transportation and production costs. The Ribadeo collection captured the traditional, Spanish hydraulic cement look, also on a red body tile, with both warm and cool tones for maximum market appeal.