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Ceramic tile: Manufacturers highlight HD visuals, varied sizes

February 2/9, 2015; Volume 28/Number 16

By Amanda Haskin

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 3.06.29 PMIt wasn’t difficult for attendees to notice today’s trends in tile from the displays at Surfaces this year. Walking from booth to booth told a vivid story about shapes, sizes and HD visuals.

Chapter one of the story was all about format size. “I feel like I’m in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing for Crossville. “Everything is either really, really big or itty-bitty, teeny-tiny. I think disparity is a trend in design overall. There’s a wide dynamic of proportions and the mixing of materials is even more dramatic.”

Another major theme arose from new advances in inkjet technology, which inevitably brought attendees back to Wonderland. Because of today’s ability to create realistic graphics on any surface, there were tile booths that looked more like spaces dedicated to hardwood. A number of other products pushed the boundaries of what a tile can become, which is seemingly anything.

Bedrosians

The fact that the Bedrosians booth was bustling all three days of the show did not go unnoticed, as the company ended up winning the Best of Surfaces Best Booth Design award for booths over 1,200 feet.

Regarding displayed products, owner Janice Bedrosian was most excited about the company’s newest lines of decorative pattern mosaics, specifically arabesque glass in sea blues and greens as part of the Mallorca series, and the neutral, heavily textured patterns in the Luxembourg and Panache series.

“Decorative is very big right now,” she said. “We’ve got all new shapes and sizes in both stone and glass. In California and the Southern belt, larger sizes are the big players. In the Northern markets like New York City, tile gets smaller. You need to have a wide variety to fit all the different markets.”

Also on display were three generations of wood looks where booth visitors could closely examine the evolution of inkjet technology from year to year. The 2015 lines expressed deeper surfaces and color variations throughout the planks.

Crossville

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 3.06.44 PMCrossville introduced a line of fabric looks called Ready To Wear, offered in eight colors with names that serve as nods to the fashion industry, such as Off the Cuff, Smarty Pants and Hats Off. The game-changing aspects of this line include its color palette, which was designed specifically for the hospitality industry based on market trends. Ready to Wear is offered at a lower price point to reach a broader audience.

The new line’s designs also have deepened nuances of the heathering quality and textures of real fabric.

“My family’s background is textiles,” Waldrep explained, “so I kept saying that we have to have that undertone. We have to show the spin in the yarn and the little iridescence that evokes the way light would hit it.”

The other line creating buzz is called Moonstruck, which is the company’s first domestically produced 18 x 36 offering. It also comes in a 12 x 24 option and is featured in two finishes and five colors named after lunar missions.

“We are boldly going where Crossville hasn’t been before,” Waldrep said. “The 18 x 36 format requires an investment in material handling, palletizing and packaging. We’ve had it before but we were buying it from other people, so we’re excited to be able to make this ourselves.”

Dal-Tile

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 3.06.18 PMDal-Tile’s new hardwood visual, Yorkwood Manor, is glazed porcelain in a 6 x 36 rectified format that comes in three unique designs: BirchTree, Pecan and Deep Walnut. They are all meant to evoke old, reclaimed wood and have a textural quality with graining and even some knots.

“Wood emerged as a trend about four years ago, but the aesthetics and characteristics have evolved over time,” noted Lori Kirk-Rolley, vice president of brand marketing. “There are so many different places and directions you can go with a wood visual. We’re combining visual techniques to create a look and color that will vary from tile to tile, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find repeats in a large area.”

The other line Dal-Tile highlighted at the show is a rectified color body porcelain called River Marble, which features five designs in four sizes and two finishes. Marble is currently very popular, but is still considered high-risk for places like kitchens, according to Kirk-Rolley, so this line provides a viable alternative.

“Historically in marble you get the 12 x 12 [option], but now we’re looking at a marble look in a porcelain tile that comes in different shapes—a plank or a long, rectangular size. Marble lends itself well to the long, linear look because typically the graining of the pattern is also very linear. Plus, you can go in different directions from a design perspective.”

Eleganza

The Eleganza booth featured its Crystal Stone 2.0, advertised as having the “purity and strength of diamonds and the beauty of white jade.” It features Forever White Technology with 93-degree whiteness, as well as stain resistance, zero porosity and UV resistance. It comes in a 24 x 24 format and can also be used for countertops.

“Because of its UV and stain resistance, this can be used outdoors unlike other types of quartz,” said Sam Wiernucki, territory manager. “The fact that you can take this outside coupled with how white it is, there’s been a lot of buzz. It really makes everything else in the room pop.”

The newest wood look, Woodstock, is a color body rectified porcelain with a wood grain look and a unique 8 x 79 format.

Emser Tile

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 3.06.37 PMAt Surfaces, Emser introduced a new glazed porcelain hardwood look called Reclaim, with a distinctive 8 x 71 plank format.

“The size is what’s getting a lot of attention because everyone is going toward larger formats,” said Aris Gharapetian, marketing manager. “Not many companies have this, especially in this look and quality.”

Another product line creating some buzz for Emser is Alchemy, a glazed porcelain series that draws upon the urban patina look of metal. The collection is offered in two colors, two sizes and two mosaics. “There’s a lot of commercial interest in this. Restaurants really love it, especially here in Vegas. It’s meant to make a space look different more than anything else. When you see it installed, there’s a wow factor.”

An additional product that’s new for Emser is Museo, a high-end porcelain in a marble look featuring Italian design. “When we did a focus group for this product, there was a lot of interest,” Gharapetian said. “Our customers are looking for this and no one makes it in this high quality.”

Surface Art

The Surface Art booth was the only tile booth in the upstairs Shorelines hall at the show, and it looked right at home despite being surrounded by hardwood companies.

“Wood [visuals aren’t] even considered a trend anymore,” said Kevin Stupfel, vice president of sales. “I would consider it more of a staple. Now it’s almost the equivalent of a concrete look or a travertine look. It may have seemed like a fly-by-night thing four years ago, but it’s certainly not.”

New this year for Surface Art is New Zealand plank from the Venetian Pinnacle Collection, offered in an 8 x 48 porcelain plank and four colors.

Stupfel stressed that updated technology is allowing companies to tap into a new level of realism when it comes to replicating hardwood looks, including higher-resolution images, finer contrasts between colors and more differentiation from piece to piece.

As far as other trends in tile, he noted that different geometrical shapes are emerging, like hexagons and octagons. “These shapes are coming out that were traditionally in a Victorian-type setting. Now they’re being incorporated into everything from slate looks to brushed cement looks, so it’s about taking that shape and applying it in different fashion settings.”