professional attention to tile installations
 
By: Ryan Fasan
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'Tree of Life' Prarie Glass design by Wright
Around the turn of the twentieth century, the late American architect Louis Sullivan coined the term “Form (ever) follows function” in reference to changes he was seeing in the design and architectural world. This simple phrase still rings true today. Throughout the evolution of modernist design, architects, designers and manufacturers have been striving to define this simple phrase and manifest its intent in projects and products alike. Both Sullivan and his assistant, a fellow by the name of Frank Lloyd Wright, embraced this simple mantra as distilled wisdom: a central rule that all of their designs followed. However they were not opposed to all forms of ornamentation in their designs, Wright’s prairie glass and Sullivan’s Celtic Revival metalwork are iconic aesthetic signatures that still served a functional purpose.

Once an idea is leaked it begins to take root in different areas and becomes open to re-interpretation. The Bauhaus School and its founders took this philosophy and added to it, embracing an assertion by Adolf Loos in his 1908 essay, “Ornament and Crime.” This created a design style of simple nakedness, devoid of ornamentation for purely aesthetic goals.

Like all good ideas in art, fashion and design, the modernist thought of form following function has had a resurgence happening since the mid 1990's. At first we saw more Bauhaus inspired, minimalistic designs with very little ornamentation or decoration. As the concerns of the environment and economy became top of mind for most folks moving into 2k the focus diverged from stark minimalism to a much more organic design akin to Wright's philosophy.

Today the twenty-first century design language is again re-defining this universal principle, embracing concepts like biomimicry and universal design to add another facet of function to the modern built environment. The ceramic tile industry is fertile soil for this concept to take root, being one of the most highly functional building materials, and indeed has been embraced by many of the industry leaders creating solution based innovative product.
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On that note, if I had to choose one word to describe the fair in Valencia this year, Innovation would be it. As promised, let’s take a look at some of the most exciting products introduced at Cevisama in 2010. Manufacturers have let their designer’s and engineer’s minds run wild and pursued many different avenues to provide solutions in the form of new product that promotes evolutionary design. Will we see most of these innovations in the showrooms of North America?

Probably not.    

That is why I felt it was important to give this subject a post to its self. It’s not that North Americans don’t believe the product is worthwhile. Distributors are in business and must adhere to the inevitable laws of supply and demand. The distributors on our shores must commit to lines that they know will sell. In most cases distributors must pay for goods 2 weeks after it arrives in their warehouse in North America; not a lot of breathing room for gambles on revolutionary product. That is one of the reasons we do what we do here at patti. By introducing design professionals to the most current innovations, we hope to create the demand necessary for North American distributors to commit to such revolutionary products.

I feel that now, more than ever, it’s important for the design community in North America to know what’s out there. If you have read my past entries on Cevisama, you know that manufacturers see you as the best way to influence the industry and ultimately the end users. They will work actively to provide solutions for projects through their distribution channels. Even if a product is calssified as a dreaded "Special Order" material it is usually available in six weeks or less from Europe.

 
 
By: Ryan Fasan
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As promised here are my perceptions of the trends presented this year at Cevisama. The industry is doing what we do best; refining past successes and building on them with the integration of new technology. The trending colours and textures flawlessly communicate the design intent to the viewers of each composition. “Evolved” feels like the right way to differentiate the new programs from the offerings throughout the past year. Trending sizes and formats are more difficult to describe concisely as there is a new dimension to sizes in multiple thickness programs, so that will be included in a later post. The entire package of Cevisama was a balanced blend of new aesthetics and technical innovations. The focus here will be strictly aesthetics to whet the collective appetite for technical innovations which will soon follow.

Overall themes:
The two main themes that were palpable in this incarnation of Cevisama were; the sustainable nature inherent to ceramics as a durable specification and a playful joie de vivre to transmit a sense of optimism or strong message of personal power moving forward. The economic and environmental crises are two of the biggest issues on the global stage currently and certainly top of mind for most attendees. Ceramics are an artistic medium so it would stand to reason that these themes would be paramount in the new programs presented. The fair did not disappoint, each factory had its own take on how to interpret these themes and presented them in a visual way to the attendees of the fair. Proving once again the long standing assertion we have endorsed at patti  that ceramics go far beyond a cladding material into the realm of modern art.

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Colors:
The colour choices for new lines this year are a perfect example of that careful refinement of intent. When looking at the colour choices of the show in its entirety the underlying reasons for them became instantly clear. Each line effectively communicates the connotations that I believe the manufacturers intended. The effect was too universal for it to be otherwise.

The trending accent colours offered at this fair were hues that embody either power or levity, to combat the morose mood many have felt for too long. Most factories were on one side of the fence or the other depending on their target demographic and company philosophy.

The most commonly seen accents were strong saturated reds in every hue from deep merlot to bright Ferrari. Red has many positive connotations around the world; in Feng Shui it is a fire element and represents luck in China, India uses red as the marriage colour and in the west it evokes feelings of courage and passion. The choice of red as the prominent accent colour brought feelings of personal power and creativity to the compositions. The rich powerful accent colours were rounded out by midnight blues, golden yellows, burnt sienna and eggplant purples. These accents were usually paired with whites or soft greys in simple compositions for greater effect. Bright lively colours and pastels of sky blue, mauve and orange were seen frequently as well. A feel of playfulness and vivacity was tangible in the presentation of these programs to suggest optimism.
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Field tile colours were mostly presented in earth-tones in many programs to create a “natural” product feel. Tones of taupe, sand, brown and khaki were the most often seen choices for multi-format field tile lines. Always eliciting a response linked to the ongoing environmental trend that is only getting stronger. Product lines following this trend were mostly used in elegant installations using textured pieces and multiple sizes to create interest and increase the organic feel.
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By: Ryan Fasan

February means it’s time for the ceramic tile industry to head once again to Valencia, Spain to attend Cevisama, one of the most anticipated fairs of the year. The city has hosted the fair for 28 years now and despite the economic shakiness continuing into the first quarter of 2010, industry professionals from around the globe have once again made the pilgrimage to this mecca of trends and innovation.

Ceramic tile is featured prominently in Valencia’s architecture from classic to modern. It can be seen in the practical centuries-old street-signs adorning the old quarter, to cladding on the majestic sweeping curves of Santiago Calatrava’s contemporary City of Arts and Sciences. It seems like every street corner of this pulsing vibrant city is home to another public art installation, most of which are an eternal homage to the country’s favorite artistic medium, ceramic tile. What better city could there be to host an event of this magnitude especially when, per capita, Spain is the largest consumer of ceramic tile in the world?
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The fair ran from February 9-12th with an exhibition space covering nearly 600,000sft. This year it showcased 610 manufacturers from 34 countries and 700 design and architecture exhibitions. Over 11,500 international attendees were registered, a slight improvement from 2009’s numbers. A sign of optimism for the industry that tough-times are finally showing signs of improving. New for Cevisama this year is the integration of the marble and natural stone fair previously held as a separate event, bringing yet another facet to the show’s already diverse repertoire. This move to consolidate the two fairs was instigated by the desire to offer a broader range of high quality exhibitions to attendees while streamlining organization and promotional endeavors to focus on what is essentially the same target market.

A new look and marketing campaign also greeted guests this year to further underscore the theme of innovation and creativity. Visuals were of a woman with classic ceramic décor patterns, tattoo-style across her shoulders. She also sported a pair of designer shades made of trencadis mosaic. Trencadis, a form of broken tile mosaic was loved and used extensively by Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi and subsequently in tribute to Gaudi by Valencia’s favorite son Calatrava in The City of Arts and Sciences. Together with the photo campaign, the accompanying slogan Home Skin challenges attendees to re-think the cladding industry completely. No longer should ceramic and stone be thought of as a simple building material, the message implied is that hard surfaces are a creative form of expression to add value and style to our habitats, bestowing on each space a uniqueness and resiliency akin to our own skin.
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Spanish hospitality was in full form as always despite the economic downturn. Although production levels are down an estimated 29% from 2009, no one could guess from the courtesy offered by each host. Every booth made guests feel welcome with regional tapas, a barista and full bar. The enveloping atmosphere of relaxed welcome and inclusiveness quickly had everyone excited about exploring new product and ideas. Cevisama exhibitors were cautiously optimistic and were rewarded even though there were fewer overall attendees than pre-recession numbers; the buyers present were serious and focused on placing orders. Happily, progressive thinkers are taking the “glass is half full” view of the depressed market and striking while the iron is hot to introduce fresh lines and new ideas into their showrooms.
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