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  • Writer's pictureCentanni Team

Top Trends in Tile for 2021

Some of you may already know this but our own Ryan Fasan, in marketing & creative here at Centanni Tile has been the technical consultant & educator for Tile of Spain USA for more than a decade now. He's well known for his trends forecasts among other educational programs surrounding the broad topic of ceramics as an architectural solution-based medium.

Here's a full session delivered by Ryan from the Spanish pavilion at Coverings 2021 in Orlando to the VIP press tour.

We've been working hard on our current collections and introductions here at Centanni Tile to address some gaps and bring our clients on-trend solutions for the coming months.

2021 has been a pivotal year in the formation of trends with some startling insights driven by the differences and challenges we've all faced to one degree or another over the past 18 months. In an effort to not rehash everything in the presentation above, we'll try to hit some of the highlights as they relate to our novel collections and where we're heading for Fall/Winter as we move into 2022.

: | C O L O U R | :

Looking at the major paint brands forecasts should hint that the overall colour-palette is shifting ever so slightly this year to an overall warmer vector. For us, this is specifically in relation to field tile direction - the canvas we use to set the overall tone for a space. While greys remain important, we are seeing a strong rise in earth tones and tinted greys along those warmer lines. When true mid-spectrum greys are used (think half of Pantone's CoY duo 'Ultimate Grey') we often see their coolness moderated by creams, terracotta and interestingly... even dusty pinks and buff tones.

But these earthier tones are no longer relegated to supporting roles in our compositions. As our spaces continue to open to the exterior environs and indoor vegetation continues to surge, we are seeing the classic tones of earth... deep browns and rusty terracottas become the central tones which drive many compositions this year. Makes a lot of sense, given the meteoric rise of gardening and houseplant accounts on IG and other content platforms. Glazed ceramic and classic adobe/terracotta pots are the traditional accompaniment for house-plants, setting off the greenery with rusty-coloured complimentary tones. So it should be no surprise that we're seeing more of these colors in tile programs this year as vegetation abounds in our spaces.

Monstera (Swiss cheese plant) in an adobe pot
The ubiquitous Monstera Deliciosa in a classic terracotta pot

Looking at Farrow & Ball's 2021 forecast collection 'The Nordik Edit' is a great snapshot of what's going on in color and there's a lot of parallels with other well-known paint companies' forecasts. What we found illuminating was A; how many tones were periodic references pulled from their archives and B; there is a lot of tinted neutrals like brown-tinged charcoal of 'Grate Black' or grey with a hint of sea-green in the ambiguously named 'Monkey Puzzle'. We're looking for inspiration from 'golden ages' of design, pulling inspiration from periods of history where creativity boomed. Bottom line, colour trends for 2021 are promoting layering with a host of analogous bridge-tones to create a nuanced effect that is natural and homey with a lot of warmth.

: | M A T E R I A L S | :

Thanks to advancements in digital decoration, tile now goes well beyond the chromatic spectrum in the ability to faithfully reproduce other materials. Progressive manufacturers, especially from the Spanish and Italian heartlands of ceramic production where we exclusively source all our material, are developing new ways to harness digital technology to create the most organic and realistic iterations of stone, wood, metal, concrete and pretty much anything else we've ever seen.

Father working from home & parenting at the same time
Is this a familiar scene? As demands to multi-task and live digitally increased, we're starving for raw, natural connection.

As our lives transitioned to largely digital spaces at least to some degree over the past 18-months, the preference for unembellished, natural products began to rise. Same reason for the rise in houseplants and living walls - we found ourselves craving connection to nature and living things. The advances in digital decoration technology give our ceramics the ability to truly express the imperfections and spontaneity of natural materials in a visceral way.

What the above picture doesn't capture - and no picture could is the digitally applied glossy, prismatic ink that is overlaid on the aggregate chips. Exactly as you would find in a poured-in-place exposed-aggregate surface, the chips have a different hardness than the cement and take a higher polish than the concrete render which is recreated impeccably with digitally applied mineral oxide inks and silicates. This level of randomness or imperfection is something that we instinctively read as 'natural' and 'real'.

We're looking to introduce collections as the year closes out that capture the soul of noble natural materials in their virgin form - unstained timber, iconic stones with realistic structures and variegated finishes and metals with patina and gravitas.

Wherever we can reinforce biophilia - as referenced in the article by the NRDC is the connection and love of nature and natural phenomena - it behooves us to do so. Especially after this past year, creating layers of nature and connection to it is good for us on all sorts of levels.

: | G A U G E S | :

One of the most impactful innovations in the industry for everyone is the ability we have to fine-tune the thickness of tiles today. The downstream effects on installed cost are HUGE when looking critically at the thickness of the tile you select for your job. We've been working hard to provide a wide array of gauges in our assortment, optimizing each selection not just for the surface visual effect but also finding the right thicknesses for optimal application.

The thickness of a tile has a big impact on the embodied energy in the material. From an environmental standpoint, it means less raw material extracted and less time (and fuel) necessary to fire the product in the kiln. The decrease in weight means more material loaded into containers and once it lands here, trucks to get it to site, optimizing the fossil fuel consumed/square-foot installed. Where it really hits home is in the landed cost of the material. Each optimization environmentally also has dramatic impacts on the landed cost of the material. Moreover, selecting the minimum-effective-dose and not over-specifying, allows for further cost-mitigation in the installation assembly.

To keep things simple though - there's some general rules of thumb we follow:

Kitchen Backsplash with white subway tile
Subway Tile is a timeless classic for backsplashes and bathrooms

Wall tile - 6-10mm - We've tried to dramatically reduce the thickness of our staple programs like the 4x16" Subway Collection (7.3mm) and the 12x24" format of our White_XL Collection (6mm) as these are generally used A LOT and often for larger projects. Focusing our efforts on the broadest impact collections.

Contemporary Kitchen with budget-conscious tile
Mutaz Gris, paired with Subway Matte White in this contemporary kitchen

Floor tile - 7-11mm - For traditionally bonded (mortar adhered) flooring applications, especially in high-density modern porcelain, we try to find some thinner options that retain the technical characteristics necessary for floors. There are a few ways to do this. On the more budget-conscious end of the spectrum, we have Mutaz Collection which is non-rectified and 8mm but sticks to smaller formats like 24x24" and 12x24". For larger formats, we look to brands that produce dimensional tile with Lamina production, the same as porcelain slabs. Our Classic Marble, for example, is 8mm thick and perfectly flat thanks to the high-compression (almost 10x that of dry-press) of Lamina production.

Exterior Flooring - 16mm to 20mm - In exteriors, the advent of 2cm porcelain pavers is a HUGE benefit for both cost and performance. The ability to forget about pouring slab, levelling and waterproofing it, adding an isolation membrane before tiling is a massive savings in time and money. Further, porcelain pavers offer better aesthetics, performance and are a fraction of the weight of traditional cement and stone paver options. Our 2-CM-E pavers from Spain can be set in grass, gravel, sand or in a raised-access assembly on adjustable pedestals. The results are stunning for life and a fraction of the cost of a traditional assembly in exteriors.

Porcelain countertops and tables in white marble look
Full 3D decorated porcelain slabs - Available for Special order

Worktops - 12-20mm (6mm traditionally a wall format can also be used if supported by Hydro_Ban board) - We've been doing projects with porcelain slabs and panels for years now. A stocking program is on the horizon, but we can always special order slabs for your projects. We have local fabricators with experience in machining and installs too! Thanks to their European roots and connection to machinery manufacturers, our suppliers are the most advanced in the industry. As you can see above, some can even digitally decorate the full thickness of the material, allowing marble veins and other graphics to continue through the edges!

We'll leave it there for now - hopefully you found our thoughts insightful and gave you some ideas for your next projects. But rest assured that we've got lots more ideas to share and are always welcoming of input if there's something you'd love to see in stock. Fall/Winter season is just around the corner and we're already getting plans sorted for the new launches. Reach out to us anytime to chat about trends, upcoming launches or how you can harness these new innovations on your next project.

-The Centanni Tile Team

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