The Spanish Tile Manufacturer's Association (ASCER) promotes Spanish ceramic tile in North America as Tile of Spain. I was the fortunate recipient of a trip to Spain last week to get to know the Spanish tile industry, Spanish culture and the Spanish people. My trip was built around my attending Cevisama, the Spanish tile, stone and bath trade show.
Cevisama was an enormous show, easily the largest tile trade show I've ever attended. The facility where it was held, the Feria Valencia, was an amazement.
As I walked the show floor and toured the booths I saw a number of overriding trends, many of which will end up on this side of the Atlantic eventually. Tile is the default material for much of the world though it's certainly not in North America and that's unfortunate. It's a great material and I learned more about it in Spain than I ever thought there was to know.
The big news from Spain is that the Spanish have mastered the art of digital printing on tile. The tile above isn't the banded calcite it appears to be. That is a pattern printed on a ceramic tile. The printing was so clear I could swear I saw the saw marks from a stone saw on that tile.
The Spanish use tile in innovative ways. The shelves above are made form walnut shelves with porcelain tile dividers.
All over Europe, builders are using large-format, thin porcelain tiles for sheathing the exteriors of buildings. When used in this manner, the tile isn't held into place with mastic and grout. Rather, it's hung on an aluminum rack with a layer of insulation behind it. This makes for a highly energy efficient structure that never needs to be maintained.
Moving back inside, the long horizontal wall tiles we see here were all over the place. For the last couple of years, designers in North America have been obsessed with hiding grout joints and it was kind of interesting to see the grout in this bathroom be an integral part of this design.
Almost every tile I saw had a lot of texture. This one was interesting because it's a 12" tile with with a textured mosaic printed on it. This would make installation a snap and I apologize to my friends in the mosaic world for coming close to liking this tile.
This is another 12" tile with textured mosaic printed on it. When done this way, this faux mosaic takes on a character that's utterly different from a mosaic.
I saw a lot of bright colors and very few of them were on flat tiles.
In keeping with the digital printing mastery, what appears to be a wallpapered bathroom is actually, completely tiled.
I saw a lot of tile being used in rooms other than the kitchen and bath uses we're so accustomed to in North America.
Here's another ceramic tile that appears to be wood paneling and wallpaper.
I saw a large number of combinations of natural stone, glazed ceramic and metallic ceramic. That hexagonal shape was pretty popular too. This is not something I'd ever think to do on my own but I think it looks pretty terrific.
I took thousands of photographs while I was there so consider this to be the first in a series on tile trends. What do you think of all of this? Would you ever use any of these styles in your own home?
Thank you once again to Tile of Spain for this once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain. If you'd like to learn more about what the Spanish tile industry is up to, you can find all the information you could ask for on Tile of Spain's website.