Exports to U.S. markets showing growth as economy slowly recovers.

Italian Tile Makers Go Retro With Green Style, Design

Exports to U.S. markets showing growth as economy slowly recovers.

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    Wearing its sustainability on its sleeve, this manufacturer now reuses 100% of its unfired waste, recycles it back into the manufacturing, and recycles 100% of its factories’ wastewater. The company’s products come in 167 colors and eight surfaces. In addition, 32 modular sizes are available. Street is shown here. www.cervogue.com

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    Ceramic that mimics wood may not be for everyone, but this design concept has been a winner for European manufacturers. This product, Greenwood collection by Cerim, calls to mind the rustic floors of old houses. It’s inspired by the wood processing method based on pickling and aniline dyes, the company says. The glazed porcelain stoneware is based on oak wood in five new colors. A variety of sizes are available. www.cerim.it/

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    Lines, a new collection by French designer Patrick Norguet, features distinctive graphics and lines created using advanced high-definition technology on Slimtech laminated tiles. Measuring only 3 millimeters thick, the product is lighter, which makes this tile product easier to transport as well as cheaper and easier to install. It can be used on closet doors, containers, doors, fireplaces, bathroom, and kitchen countertops. Six colors are available. www.ceramichelea.it.

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    Déchirer, which is designed by Patricia Urquiola, is an unglazed porcelain tile collection that is inspired by the nature of cement. It features patterns that suggest apparent traces of previous stratifications as well as different reliefs, levels, and textures, which results in a tile that begs to be touched. A wide variety of styles, sizes, and colors are available. www.mutina.it.

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    As its name—Kaos—suggests, this product by Luca Nichetto means complete disorder and potential infinitesimal possibilities of creation, the company says. Combining texture and color, the line’s graphic is expressed with various traces: decors in relief, rotocolor printing, and digital printing arranged in layers on the tile. The surface is dynamic and never the same, changing depending on the point of view. A variety of colors and sizes are available. www.refin.it/en/

Bologna, Italy—As design professionals and the tile industry gathered at the international ceramic tile and bathroom fixture show this week, the mood was decidedly upbeat. Why? Italian manufacturers have started to see some economic improvement around the globe as well as in the United States, which is one of Italy's most important markets.

“On the basis of the figures gathered in the first half of the year, we are expecting to report overall sector growth at the end of the year of between 2.5% and 3.5%,” Confindustria Ceramica Chairman Franco Manfredini said at a press conference this week. “A key role will be played by exports with expected growth of between 3% and 4.5%, corresponding to an increase in turnover of around 4.7 billion euros in 2010. This recovery reflects the improvement in the international economic situation and demonstrates that the downturn reported by the Italian ceramic industry in 2009 was not caused by a lack of competitiveness, but was a direct result of the financial crisis.”

Cersaie, the international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings, is considered one of the tile industry’s most important shows. (The other is Cevisama in Spain). Held this year from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, 2010, Cersaie is expected to host more than 90,000 attendees who come to see the the latest products that will be hitting design showrooms across North America this year or next.

Like other nations, Italy, which exports about 70% of its products, saw slowed growth as the global recession hampered demand for and sales of its products. But now with renewed confidence that good times are ahead, the country’s manufacturers are expressing renewed optimism with a bold looks, radical new textures, recycled-content products, and innovative offerings that incorporate features such as solar technology.

“On the style front, interesting cutouts, lace, oversized flowers, skinny stripes, and mid-century modern will make their way to the tile runway,” says a trend report from Novita Communications, the Italian tile industry’s PR representative in the United States. “In line with the times, visitors can expect to see a bounty of organic influences ranging from rustic wood looks to natural stone. And who can forget about green design and technological innovation? New slim formats are guaranteed to make a big impact on the A&D community.”

Nigel Maynard is senior editor, products, at BUILDER magazine.