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Thu 18 Sep 2008 03:37 PM

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Tile style

Tile and mosaic manufacturers worldwide compete for the latest fashion trends on the interior catwalk.

Tile and mosaic manufacturers worldwide compete for the latest fashion trends on the interior catwalk.

As part of the ever-growing ceramic tile and mosaic sector, more and more companies worldwide wave good-bye to, plain bone white tiles, and are opting for designs that are not only appealing to the eye, but are technologically advanced in their manufacturing process - allowing for versatility and sustainability, for use on a number of different surfaces.

While the ‘90s were full of cool neutral shades and softer palettes, today’s commercial and industrial sectors are clamouring for a punch of colour. Hot picks include earth tones and sea colours such as: emerald green, cobalt blue, chocolate brown, and black, paired with sizzling hues such as crimson or bright yellow.

In addition, incorporating fabrics, diamantes, glitter, bold prints and motifs, are all major fashion trends emerging in the tiling world, offering a huge variety of choice, for a growing interior design market.

“It is becoming a trend worldwide – designs traditionally used on wallpapers, general textiles and materials used around the home are all now making their way in to the tile sector,” said Bora Fistikci, export representative, Graniser Seramik.

More and more companies therefore are consistently adding to their existing product ranges in order to meet with the varying demands.

“For us, this year’s trends in tile design are as varied as our individual lifestyles,” said Beril Duman, assistant brand communication manager, VitrA.

“Naturally-fresh, classically elegant, young and dynamic or futuristic with a touch of high tech. Where colours, textures, themes or materials are concerned, what all these trends have in common is a stylish play on contrasts. In order to enable architects and planners to pick up latest interior fashion, there must be a series of tiles featuring a varied design, and countless possibilities, for individual combinations,” she added. Sizing matters

As well as themes, and a stylish play on colour combinations, the main concept behind many tile-offering companies is that tiles are getting bigger.Where the norm used to be plain, 12x12-inch tiles, these days, bigger is better, making a small room appear more spacious and airy. “Today we are focusing on large formats –, especially where large projects are concerned, airports, shopping malls, and large scale residential projects, for example. In sizes such as 60x120, 45x90 – with a metallic, and/or a natural stone look are the trends these days,” said Ugur S. Indirkas – project sales manager for the tile division of VitrA.

The ‘Kalesinterflex’, an innovation in tile technology by Kalebodur, the second producer globally, of the world’s first flexible tile, not only boasts its elasticity, but also the impressive size formats that it is produced.

Offering 15 colour alternatives (matt or gloss), that look and feel just like a painted surface, ‘this hard-wearing product has many technical advances, and can be produced in measurements up to and including 1m x 3m, and is only 3 millimeters thick,” said Aysen Uz, brand communication group manager, Kalebodur. She went on to say that, “...another advantage of this series is that one m2 is no more than 7 kilograms, 3 times lighter than ceramic tiles – subsequently lowering exportation costs. It is light, flexible, and suitable for floor coverings, bathrooms, and can even be used in furniture, bending to fit around any service.” Making ‘Kalesinterflex’ the thinnest and largest dimensional ceramic (and porcelain mix) tile available on the market.

Although large ceramic tiles may be becoming a sort after product, on the opposite end of the spectrum are mosaics. Its naturally small design is also a popular choice, used either in conjunction with larger tiles, or coordinated into patterns using mosaics of different colours.

“Two opposite trends dominate the market: the tendency towards bigger and bigger formats on the one hand and towards the mosaic, which means miniature formats, on the other hand. As never before, people have recognised the creative power of the format and rely on exciting changes between big and small, long and square,” said Dr. Kern, general manager of Villeroy & Boch tiles, GmbH.

“The popularity of structures and new haptics remains unbroken. The design possibilities range from classic-elegant to baroque-glamorous. This way, the tile receives an emotional upgrading,” he added.

Emerging markets

While the popularity of ceramics is on the rise, manufacturers and suppliers worldwide are beginning to collaborate with a series of designers, competing in hopes to become the most established in the tiling business.

“In the past, the strongest competitors came from Italy and Spain. Due to globalisation, many new suppliers enter the market,” said Kern.

This is apparent on a global scale, with Turkey being one of the largest exporters of ceramic tiles and mosaics worldwide.The comeback of typical designs, materials and patterns associated with those dating back to the Ottoman Empire, are typical of the current Turkish ceramic sector. The ‘Orientile’ range by Canakkale Seramik – Kalebodur, in collaboration with award winning designer Can Yalman, together created a modern collection representing just that.

“These shapes come from the Ottoman designs – tiles from over 300 years ago are being taken, and re-introduced to the market in an innovative way. The ‘Orientile’ range, poses similar shapes and designs to the way they were years ago,” said Aysen Uz, brand communication group manager for Canakkale Seramik.

Part of the Kale group, the largest tile manufacturers in Turkey, Canakkale Seramik’s ‘Orientile’ range comprised of ‘Aya’, a droplet shaped tile representing designs traditionally used on kaftans worn by Sultan’s centuries ago. ‘Feza’ again with the same idea in mind, taken from old tile designs, fits its sharp edges together in a mosaic form proving that shapes classic squares and geometric designs such as diamonds and hexagons continue to stand the test of time.

And, the ‘Rumi’ tile, a black square tile with a corner-curve of bright yellow, again according to Uz, was designed in the aim of “trying to introduce traditionally used colours back in to the market.”


The look of a tile may well be a deciphering factor to a designers choice, however the overall ‘life-span’ of the product is of greater significance. A ceramic tile is made from different types of clay that are pressed and fired in a kiln. The tiles can be glazed with a mixture of metal oxides for colour, and ground glass for a hard surface, and can be vitreous (water resistant) or non-vitreous (not).

So, in addition to the aesthetic value ceramic tiles and mosaics may have on a particular project, they also have a distinctive value over some of their competitors, especially when considering colouring, product longevity, and in a lifetime of use they remain very easy to clean and maintain.

“The design of the tiles must be modern and up-to-date. High functionality is important, as well as material usage, durability (which is connected to the material itself), ecological sustainability, and also social influences, habitual behaviour and different cultures,” said Kern.

“Sustainability is an important factor for us. The tile itself consists of natural materials, is hygienic and fireproof. Moreover, it is specially resistant and stable so that it hardly wears out over decades. We set value on environment-friendly production technologies and use modern techniques in the manufacturing process. Our researchers have developed easily cleanable, and thus, environmentally friendly surfaces such as, Ceramicplus and Vilbostoneplus,” he added.

To conclude, all in all, although rustic tiles, and designs still have a (small) door open for them – with the introduction of technological advances in machinery, combined with improved designs, tile manufacturers are aiming to follow the general trend, while also become trendsetters.

Consistently adding new designs, new finishes, and a new size formats to the interior design scene, the ceramic tile and mosaic industry is, and will continue to be a competitive market for many years to come.

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