Tile of Spain, the association of over 125 Spanish tile manufacturers, is forecasting macro trends for 2018 which include: monochromatic colors, planks for wood & beyond, well-loved vintage looks, non rectified edges, encaustic mashups, gauged porcelain (large format thin tile) and thick pavers in porcelain.
When looking at the coming year’s innovations as a whole, there is a reverence for clean, honest materials. Collections are being designed with broad expanses of installations in mind. Tile is not just an accent, it’s literally everywhere indoors and out. The intentional hyper-distressed look of neglect is beginning to give way to a more refined and stately vintage look with a well-loved and maintained feel. 2018’s ceramics are all about the balance we are all struggling so hard to find in our daily 21st century lives.
Grey, White, Black remain the top 3 colors in that order for both floor and walls with Greige (gray-beige) following as a close 4th depending on the collection’s design inspiration. The only departure from this is in the wood planks collections – where classic wood tones still reign supreme. The complimentary colors of choice have shifted from the oceanic blues, teals and turquoise that were solidly in place for the past 2 years. Accent tones of choice for 2018 are denim blues (ranging from steely grey-blue to deep and saturated over-dyed indigos) and deep wine bottle or British racing greens.
Almost without exception, manufacturers are reporting their top sellers to be planks. This seems to be a truism in most global marketplaces but certainly is the case in North America where design and architecture features so much of the native timber. The interesting thing is that stone, metal and even cotto are finding great success in the planks formats. North America tends to favor planks in the 8×36″ size with upscale markets favoring the longer 48″ planks.
Rectified Edges Driven by Cost
In recent years, North America has been trending away from rectified edges in all looks, with the exception being traditional marble and flowing textured wall tiles in the 12×36″ or upwards sizes. The luxury market, on the other hand, tends to prefer the seamless look a rectified edge provides and don’t mind the premium installation costs. Installation costs seem to be the key component to the shift towards a traditional calibrated (non-rectified) tile. This has also opened the door for the rusticated edge look that was so strong in the 90’s to make a come back.
Heavy rustication and weathering are on the decline this year to make way for more of a vintage, worked by hand look. In looks ranging from woods and stones to glazed ceramics and cottos, the overall impression is one of a long life with care and consideration rather than one of neglect and hardship. The stripped and painted woods have mellowed to a burnished sand-blasted look and the ceramics have multiple effects of lustered glazes, subtle metallics and varied finishes to deepen their overall aesthetic.
The strongest look by far remains to be the encaustic cement look and other riffs on the style where multiple patterns are mashed together to create a layered cohesive look. Most of these looks are offered in the traditional 8×8″ format but many are printed as deco’s in a larger format field. Other directions in deco this year are favoring delicate textures in damask or lace patterns, as well as a strong influence from paper and textiles in all styles. Geometrics are also back in many minimalist collections this year either as overlays or in tone-on-tone versions.
In contrast, small formats continue to be a strong choice for wall tile, aided by the ongoing popularity of subway tile. The winning sizes being 8×8″ (no surprise given the strength of traditional encaustic tiles), 6×12″ and 4×30″.
Gauged or Thin Tile
This relatively new market segment continues to gather a head of steam – especially to reduce grouting in bathrooms and kitchen countertops. The market is steadily adjusting to this material, and it is becoming more commonplace at point of sale.
Pavers Cement Their Position
One of the key components to the rapid growth of this 2cm thick category is that they are lighter and more consistent to cut than traditional cement pavers. Because of this, the contractor base is actively promoting the switch to porcelain in projects.
Previous years saw almost exclusively 24×24″ formats, but this year there was a cornucopia of 16×32″ and 24×48″ pavers, with some even being cut down to 12 or 8″ planks as well. Some of the paver offerings, especially in flagstone or cobblestone looks, featured the softly weathered edge also seen in cottos and French limestone looks in traditional thickness programs.