10 tile trends for 2018

Ceramics of Italy, an association of more than 220 ceramic companies from across the country, shared trends that its members predict hoteliers can expect to see growing in 2018.

Terrazzo and nostalgia-inspired tiles are becoming a staple for the hospitality sector, while traditional stone and wood looks are being reimagined to create an entirely new category of design. With a greater emphasis on healthcare and wellness, tiles are also becoming a reflection of this theme with an increased push for sustainable factories, botanical prints and earth tones in the tiles themselves. 

Here are the 10 trends hoteliers and designers need to know about for the coming year.

1. Botanical

While floral designs have been around since decorative tile was invented, botanical is a new trend that reflects two movements in the design industry. The first is a focus on health and wellness and the incorporation of the natural world into interiors, which research has shown to contribute to human health and productivity. Meanwhile, the influence of tropical modernism has seeped into interiors and product design, which can be seen in this year’s abundance of palm, cacti and other flora-inspired patterns. 

2. Deconstructed 

Tile companies are constantly seeking new ways to add movement and volume to the flat surface, whether by texture, pattern or tromp l’oeil effect. Deconstructed is the most recent example, featuring a breakdown and reconstruction of shapes that transcend the traditional rectilinear format of a tile. Many of these collections range from kaleidoscopic patterns and floating geometric shapes to fragments of seemingly broken tile. 

3. Earth Tones

Drawing their main inspiration from natural elements, a wide range of Italian tiles fall into this theme. Color palettes range from dirt-, clay- and sand-inspired browns; forest, moss and grass-like greens; red and golden tones reminiscent of the sun; and shades of blue to evoke an oceanic feel. This trend has become popular partially due to a revival of 1970s style along with a greater focus on Mother Nature and its ability to create a sense of natural serenity. 

4. Globalism

Designers and brands frequently look to other cultures for inspiration, which are exemplified in this year’s tile introductions. For Marazzi’s Grand Carpet collection, Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel looked to Asia to create large ceramic slabs enhanced with the tactility of carpets, Indian temporary ritual tattoos and the Kolam tradition of ephemeral rice floor decorations. Meanwhile, LaFaenza was inspired by a specific cave in Slovenia to create the Radika collection and Imola’s Koala is a doppelganger for eucalyptus wood, typically native to Australia. Thanks to advancements in digital printing, these rare materials and handcrafted techniques are available in hard surfacing to all.

5. New Typologies

While some companies recreate the look of wood or stone to an impressive degree of realism, others mix different materials or handpick certain characteristics to form a whole new typology. This fusion of material-looks and themes result in a surreal, imaginative interpretation of tile and a potential new language for interior design. For Nextone, Lea Ceramiche combined stones from four different quarries while Sicis’ new iteration of Vetrite infuses marble designs with metallic veins to create unique materials that can't be found in nature.

6. Nostalgia

People often look to design for an escape and companies are turning to the past to bring people a euphoric boost. For their third comic-inspired collection, Del Conca recreates the feminist world of Guido Crepax on ceramic tile with his 1960s comic-strip heroine, Valentina. Meanwhile, other companies were inspired by simpler times, using square formats, candy colors and retro patterns reminiscent of the 1950s like Happy Days by Cevi and Confetti designed by Marcante-Testa for Ceramica Vogue. 

7. Painterly

Everywhere you look, there is an overarching softness and romanticism in the design world with gentle curves, washes of color and the unmistakable touch of an artist’s hand. Tile is no exception with this year’s collections featuring hand painted patterns, sketches and illustrations, marbled effects and watercolor designs. Standout collections include Pad by Patrick Norguet for Lea Ceramiche whose irregular lines and delicate shades create a soft, sensual effect and Corrispondenza by Dimore Studio for Ceramica Bardelli whose hand-painted decors create a polychromatic kaleidoscope of soft tones. 

8. Pastels

Moving beyond the celebrity of millennial pink, shades of blush, lavender, sea green and pale yellow can be found in dozens of floor and wall tiles. Less saturated than primary colors, pastels create a light, soft and calming effect, which dovetails with a few other trends from this year from Painterly to Nostalgia. 

9. Terrazzo Twist 

Already a popular trend in interior design and fashion, terrazzo started popping up in the tile industry last year and has grown to become a potential new mainstay, on par with marble, wood and concrete designs. Options range from cement to epoxy terrazzo, traditional to modern colors and glossy to matte finishes. As opposed to traditional terrazzo, which can become very slippery or fade when used outdoors, porcelain offers a durable, versatile and cost-effective alternative. 

10. Weathered

A departure from the soft, romantic effects of the other trends, weathered is a style with staying power. From stones with scratch marks and colored rustic planks to rusted tin tiles and oxidized metals, these tiles mirror an ongoing fascination with unfinished spaces, worn surfaces and vintage effects. A good example is Treverklife from Marazzi that reproduces the look of Venice’s iconic “briccole” with signs of erosion from seawater and tiny circular holes left by wood-boring mollusks.