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Gardenia Orchida's Crystal Ker collection features thin, eco-friendly tiles with a pressed texture surface

Urban legend has it that when the late Gianni Versace was first approached to lend his name and design sensibilities to ceramic tile, he declined. Versace, he is reputed to have said, did not belong on the bathroom floor!


Fortunately, he had second thoughts, teamed up with Gardenia Orchidea and added his unique flair and design style to the ceramic tile industry.


Every year Ceramic Tiles of Italy showcases the ceramic tiles and bathroom furnishings industry at Cersaie. This year, more than 83,000 
people visited the week-long event held in Bologna. 


Along with Versace’s Swarovski crystal-embedded tiles, the trend of designers and architects crossing from one medium to another was evident with architectural- and design-driven brands like Mutina and Brix that showcased design stars like Patricia Urquiola and Vincent Van Duysen. 


What motivates the designers? Well, Versace clearly liked the bling, Van Duysen’s tiles were inspired by cracks in aged paint and plaster, and industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa was seemingly energized by fabric and focused on the texture of the tile to create a surface that looks like Japanese cotton. Manufactured by Brix, and called Linen, it is also part of the trend to develop ceramic tiles that mimic other surfaces such as chalkboards, wood and wallpaper. 


Tile as Art

While the soft look often associated with wallpaper was evident in many collections, there’s much more than the paisley parade representing this trend inspired by African tribal patterns, flowers and forests. And if you’re exploring tiles-as-art, take a look at big blossoms like those found in Naxos’ Vanity range. 


Further evidence of this trend: tile floors masquerading as hardwood and decorative laser-cut tile tiles that mimic latticework (by La Fabbrica) straddle two trends -- they can be laid over existing surfaces, and represent the developing trend of slimmer tiles. 


Tiles that are 4- to 5-mm thick are strong enough for high-traffic areas and are a perfect solution for homeowners who want to cover existing tiles. The slim-format tiles, available in traditional sizes starting at eight-by-eight inches and oversized one-by-three metre sizes, are available from several manufacturers including: Florim, Mirage, Marazzi and Laminam.


While Cersaie presents cutting-edge industry trends, it’s also the shop window of the Italian tile industry, which supplies many of the retailers we frequent when choosing products. We often confine tiles to kitchens and bathrooms, and Cersaie celebrated the fact that tiles can be used in many different applications throughout the home.

Originally published in BC Home magazine. For monthly updates, subscribe to the free BC Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.