Every year, the Tile Africa team travels to Cersaie – the tile and bathroom ware industry exhibition held in Bologna, Italy. This is a spectacular show where current and future trends that have shaped, or will soon shape, the local industry are showcased for the world to be inspired by.
Cersaie offers the industry a preview of what’s to come in terms of technology, innovation and trends in the tiling and bathroom ware industry.
Liza Watermeyer, retail and display coordinator at Tile Africa, explains that this year, two themes seemed to stand out from the 1,000 exhibitors. Watermeyer refers to these themes as Alchemy and Artisanal.
Alchemy refers to the use of metallic finishes, especially gold. The combination of metallic tones with embossed, textured, relief or patterned surfaces makes for a heady mix of glamour and luxe to products and displays alike.
The Artisanal theme on the other hand showcased material with a handmade appearance; bespoke, not machine-made, with finishes that are distressed, painted, sanded, white-washed, burnt or even waxed. Also part of the artisanal theme were up-cycled, re-cycled and vintage looks.
Watermeyer’s top trends within these themes
The most prominent tile trend to come out of the show was that of stone-look tiles, particularly marble in different textured finishes. This marble look varies from the classic, glossy finish in all colours and hues to matt and rougher finishes including honed and rock-hammered textures. Surface textures in stone and cement looks vary too, which makes it suitable for a complete tiling solution used in any application, including inside the home, outside, or even around the pool. In addition to this stone-look tile, cement and wood look tiles continue to be a popular offering, many with painted, washed, patterned, printed or sanded effects on the tile body or in décor effects.
Tiles continue to be available in large format, in rectangles and square shapes. The brick tile is also a very popular option and is available in all types of looks and finishes that can be used on both walls and floors. Similar to this format is metro or subway wall tiles which can be laid in traditional patterns like herringbone and parquet, or, they can form part of a range that has three sizes in one colour.
Geometric shapes remain a popular choice with hexagon shapes being favoured more often than not. Gables, trapeziums, parallelograms, rhombus and triangular shapes are also gaining popularity.
Neutral greys, across the colour spectrum, are still prevalent. However, these seem to be warming up so that neutrals with yellow and red undertones are making a showing. The Mediterranean colour palette with cool shades in greens and blues juxtaposed with the warm spicy tones of terracotta and brick red are also trending. These can be interlaid with hints of metallic, especially gold.
Two of the most popular shapes in bathroom ware continue to be the organic, soft round forms and the straight clean lines of a square, leaner aesthetic. The geometric trend also featured with some bathroom ware units having a facetted shape.
The natural appeal of matt stoneware in all forms of bathroom ware continues to be a key trend.
The introduction of colour in stoneware is becoming more popular where muted tones, light to mid-greys and black, are more popular than the primary colours.
A trend to look out for is the combination of various materials and finishes on cabinets and bathroom furniture. Texture and/or relief on wood or board used in the manufacturing of the furniture is prominent and adds interest and a sense of the artisanal theme. Mixing of traditional bathroom ware with metal and wood is also popular.
An exciting trend is that colour is not just restricted to tiles and bathroom accessories anymore; the exhibition revealed that taps and basins with hints of colour, in particular the glint of gold, is on trend.
“This annual show is an explosion of inspiration and design and it helps Tile Africa to stay up to date with the latest international trends,” says Watermeyer. “All the insights and knowledge gained provides us with a strong foundation to conceptualise fresh and on-trend designs, always referencing our South African heritage to appeal to our local market.”