15 February 2011

Tile trends from Cevisama

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.


  1. '12" tile with textured mosaic printed on it'

    I like this one! Do you have the link for it? Thank you.

  2. Great information and trends about tile, Paul! I'm glad to see tiles used in both interior and exterior walls. I'm also glad to see designs that embrace grout lines! Again, thanks for letting us get an insight on this great event.

  3. These are some really cool examples of tile! Obviously, there have been some great advances in tiling. I especially like the bathroom that looks wallpapered but it's actually all tile. Thanks for sharing, Paul!

  4. Nice Pics Paul! I was really looking forward to seeing your take on trends especially. I am putting mine together right now and was interested to see what the Reign in Spain crew took away from the show.

    Probably won't be too in depth until after Coverings to keep the press conference on the Tile of Spain booth fresh. Can't wait to see you again there!

  5. I like the book shelves and will always love tile floors.

    I'm a little to country to go for the interior and exterior walls, though.

  6. Hey Paul, just listened to your talk on the Webinar. It was awesome. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us.

    I have been taking some time off from my blog, due to moving to Reno NV. from Southern California, in fact just got internet yesterday. Your talk spurred me on to get going again. Thanks

  7. First I have to say I'm a bit jealous, I'd love to attend Cevisama.
    The trends are interesting. I hope we see more of the tile in rooms other than the bath and kitchen. There are so many beautiful tiles that are amazing in living rooms. The wood paneling one really intrigued me.
    I loved the bookshelves too, it's a fantastic idea that has my mind reeling for my showroom.

    I can't wait to see more!

  8. The engineering and application is so impressive! Thanks for sharing Paul.

  9. I'm rather curious why tiles aren't as prevalent in North America as you stated. With this printing method, the possibilities are endless. I'm glad I learned something new today

  10. I don't understand it either, it's an amazing material. I have a "shock and awe" tile education post brewing so hold on. If you think you learned a lot today, you haven't seen anything yet.

  11. Hi Paul - I'm in the process of redoing my bathroom and now it's time for the shower. There are literally an inifinite number of possibilities and I find myself having complete sensory overload every time I shop for tiles. I can't seem to commit to one direction because of so many options. (It's like the Cheesecake Factory menu in that regard.) If you have any advice for how to sift through it all then I'd love to hear it. Thanks!

  12. Jai! You've never left a comment here before. I think. You of all people are allowed to call me for this kind of advice.

    I always tell people that they already have the answer inside of them, they just need to get out of the way to see it.

    Most people have a favorite color that's either a primary or a secondary color. For the overwhelming majority of people, those favorite colors are blue, green or red. That favorite color should be your accent.

    The easiest next step after identifying your favorite color is to find a neutral wall and floor tile that plays well with your accent.

    Find a neutral you can live with. Tile the walls in in a size like a 3" x 12". Then pick another size in the same color for the bath floor and then use that same color again in a 1'x1" or 2"x2" mosaic for the shower floor. If you have a tub then forget about the mosaic. The key is to mix up the sizes while keeping a consistent color.

    Circling back to your favorite color, find a glass mosaic in that color and use it as a border about five feet off the floor the whole way around the bathroom.

    Then you're done. See? Easy.

    Find a good, local, independent tile store and someone there will guide you through the process and help you come up with a layout.

    Combining a neutral with your favorite color accent will keep it personal with being too personal.

    Does that help?


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