At Coverings 2021, some of the biggest names in the stone and tile world dished the trends informing their fabricators’ upcoming and latest releases.
Tile of Spain, Ceramics of Italy, and the Tile Council of North America shared insight from their parts of the world on the biggest influences to tile and stone materials, preferences, and applications. Many of the tile and stone trends they shared were a direct result of the global pandemic bringing a different purpose to our built environment, namely our homes.
Biophilia, minimalism, and high gloss are just a few of the most popular buzzwords inr tile and stone today. With that, tile and stone products offer an expansive array of options, health features, affordability, flexible installation methods, and sustainable manufacturing—features that meet the needs of today’s residential pros and homeowners.
“[Ceramics has] become the cohesive, panacea answer that addresses almost every single one of these universal shifts and priorities,” said Ryan Fasan, Tile of Spain consultant and tile specialist.
Tiles and stones address the need for eco-friendly products delivering standout styles without affecting occupant health. Coverings 2021 showed the possibilities are endless for stone and tile, with new design and manufacturing technologies emerging each year.
Here are 11 global tile and stone trends, according to the experts:
[ Read More: 5 STANDOUT PRODUCTS FROM COVERINGS 2021—DAY ONE ]
1. Hot Colors: Green, Terracotta, Gray
Tile of Spain’s Fasan says 2020 created a huge shift for colors in the tile and stone world. The most notable color within this trend is green, but Fasan added terracottas and gray-toned stones into the mix.
“We’re seeing a mix of greens, not just a specific hue,” said designer Alena Capra of Alena Capra Designs. “You’re going to see a variety of different shades of green and different shapes and types of look as well.”
Fasan further explained that many new products seem to offer warm tones, even just as undertones. Ceramic tiles are known to offer high performance and longevity, and this emergence of natural colors and warmer tones are a safe bet with choosing tiles today, he says, and he expects these shades to remain usable for years to come.
Emotion Ceramics, Casa Ceramica, and Crossville opted to expand many of their color options with new collections and expansions debuted at Coverings. Blue is so widely used in the design world that many consider it a neutral shade now, and green could be entering that same public opinion.
It’s no surprise, but biophilia—an innate connection with nature—has bled into each sector of design and it’s becoming a way of life rather than just a design trend.
Capra told us that she sees biophilia encompassed within tiles and stones most notably through natural wood looks and botanical prints. Both were highly visible at Coverings 2021 with numerous manufacturers showing off their wood-like tiles and a few embracing statement botanical slabs and tiles.
Representing Ceramics of Italy, Kristin Coleman of Novita PR named organic as a top tile trend, and Tile Council of North America Executive Director Eric Astrachan agreed that wood looks are a big hit to embrace biophilic design preferences. Though wood-look tiles have been around for some time, innovations are continuing to enhance their natural appearance.
Design is taking on a more toned down, muted, calming feel, explains Capra, as a result of the pandemic. Fabricators on the show floor offered nearly every texture under the sun, from dramatic swirls with metallic accents, to subtle lines that play off the light. Capra says subtle textures are the most popular type of texture this year, adding some interest to these neutral colors. One popular subtle texture that’s emerging is concrete-look tiles with that natural rough surface.
Subtle textures and colors can also help to put the architecture on display and let it shine, noted Coleman.
4. High Gloss
Despite natural textures emerging as a complement to organic aesthetics, tiles featuring high gloss continue to be popular. Tile maker Argenta Ceramica says the shine creates a healthy, clean feeling and that their polished finishes remain their top sellers. The Spanish fabricator expects it to continue as a big seller throughout 2021.
The high gloss trend works with every shape and size of tile, but with smaller format tiles, juxtaposing high gloss finishes with matte ones are another common design choice, said Fasan.
5. In Vein
Aggressive veining dovetails the hot trend of large-format (or XXL) slabs, in which , veins are given a huge canvas to striking effect. Astrachan says detailed, dramatic, and magnified veining can only be achieved through these extra-large slabs.
Capra says that marble veins on porcelain tiles have been extremely popular in recent years, and these veins make stones look even more real. Depending on the type of veining, there’s an option for many different settings. And veins are swaying away from just white and gray coloring by adding warmth with brown and beige tones.
6. XXL Slabs
This year, and last, truly saw the emergence of XXL slabs and tiles. These tiles can measure up to 15 feet long and can be used to cover and create a wide selection of furniture, such as desks, tables, and seating areas, Astrachan says. XXL slabs also allow for striking bookmatched options that are unachievable in any other sized tile.
7. Large Hexes
No matter where in the world a tile manufacturer hails from, each one noted a big trend in oversized geometric hexes. It falls into a greater theme of geometry that Tile of Spain notes, but hexagons are now a staple tile shape. Hexagon tiles have been around for years, but now they’re receiving a makeover. Astrachan says large hexagons are both playful and make a statement.
Many hexes are as large as 2 feet across, and there’s an emerging trend of using hexes to stagger transitions between areas of the home, Astrachan says.
8. Flecks, Terrazzo, Aggregates
The dynamism of terrazzo tiles allows them to work in nearly any setting. Depending on the size and color of the flecks or speckles, these tiles can be subtle, bold, neutral, dramatic, modern, or traditional. Its natural appearance ties back to the return of raw materials and biophilia.
The availability of colors adds to the flexibility of this trend as well, notes Capra.
9. Skinny Tiles
At the same time XXL tiles are big, so are the contrasting skinny tiles, says Ceramics of Italy’s Coleman. It’s more of a global trend right now, says Capra, and likely the newest to make the tile trends list.
Traditional subway tiles often have a 1:2 dimension ratio, but skinny tiles are thin and long, ranging from 2 by 8 inches to 3 by 16 inches. They offer endless installation options, Coleman says.
10. Expressive Styles
Expressive designs may be gaining popularity because more people are venturing out of their homes and seeking places to express themselves, says Coleman.
This trend comes from the fashion world which is experiencing an influx of people interested in personal style and experimenting with their fashions. It’s another juxtaposing trend to the muted, subtle colors and textures that are popular now. But these expressive styles are often just bolder versions of the more toned-down tiles out there, according to Coleman, and those on large slabs act similarly to wallpaper, as well.
11. Return to Raw Materials
Manufacturers of tile and stone often try to create products that cannot be found in nature, yet in many cases want their products to look as natural as possible marble and onyx lookalikes are good examples. But in the attempt to create this seemingly natural product, texture emerges as an opportunity for innovation.
An increasing number of manufacturers have begun utilizing an embossing ink in their production process to create realism and divots in the stone, creating natural-like textures and returning to those raw materials. Fabricators such as Lea Ceramiche debuted new finishes that can provide a product that looks as raw and real as possible. Fabricator Lamosa announced its new carving effect as well that emphasizes the veining in their products through the use of digital embossing ink.