Tile Africa highlights the latest international tile and bathroom ware trends

Every year, the Tile Africa team travels to the tile and bathroom ware industry exhibition, Cersaie,   held in Bologna, Italy. This year the event was held from 22 – 26 September and it showcased current and future trends that have or will soon shape the local industry.

The fair covered over 160 000m² of exhibit space, featured over 900 exhibitors and attracted more than a 100 000 visitors. “This annual show is an explosion of inspiration and design and it helps us keep abreast of the latest international trends. All the knowledge gained provides us with a competitive edge as we are able to conceptualise fresh and on-trend designs with a South African twist to appeal to our commercial and residential markets locally,” says Vaughn Dyssel, National Contracts Sales Manager at Tile Africa Contracts.

Internationally tiles are getting bigger and hexagons are the new squares. In terms of bathroom ware, ergonomic and organic shapes are still prevalent and colour is now fashionable and is making a comeback.


Some of the top trends spotted at Cersaie 2014 are:

Modern Metro:


This trend draws its inspiration from sophisticated city life. With this trend, less is more and prints are important. Interiors are clean, minimalistic and masculine. Wood-look tiles are simple with close-grained lines.

“Tones of white, black and grey are featured in this trend, with grey still dominating,” says Dyssel.


Bathroom ware:

Bathroom ware and taps are either round or square but all sleek and minimalistic with pops of colour now being introduced in tap handles.

Space age technology is being incorporated in the form of lights and sound in showers and spa baths. “Bathroom furniture is designed for neat and small apartment living spaces and we saw cleverly designed modular units with clean lines,” he says.


Tradition Reclaimed


There is a revival in traditional terracotta floors made from glazed porcelain that needs no sealing like the old terracotta floors of yesteryear. They come in various shapes, from brick to hexagonal and square and feature antique finishes with red and orange hues.

Printed patterns are mimicking traditional encaustic designs. “These tiles have a commercial appeal as they can be customised with corporate customers’ brand colours and logos to create striking features in office park entrances, reception areas as well as retail spaces,” he says.

New designs in flooring include wood-look plank tiles that are weathered and printed, with some parts of the plank painted and other parts not. “These worn wood-look tiles are extremely realistic and you really can’t see that they’re actually tiles,” he says.


Bathroom ware:

Victorian style and vintage bathrooms are still popular and these themes are now being applied to new objects. The steampunk theme where old and new meets in one design also plugs into the tradition reclaimed trend.


Eco Nature

This is exactly as the theme name implies – it’s all about nature. Designs are drawn from beautiful forms found in nature with items such as pebbles, leaves, water and sand providing inspiration. Eco Nature is about respect for the environment, sustainable living and pulling elements of nature into bathroom designs.



This theme sees realistic stone finishes that are rich in detail printed onto tiles and different sizes of tiles being used together with great effect. Wood-look tiles come in new shapes, are embellished with prints and feature warm colour tones.


Bathroom ware:

Bathroom ware features ergonomic and organic shapes and wood is also making a statement in the bathroom in the form of wooden basins.

“This trend is very popular in the South African market where corporate customers and home owners are still after neutral tones and clean lines,” says Dyssel.


Luxe Living

Elegance, luxury and glamour describe this theme and it draws its creative design inspiration from celebrity lifestyles.

“This look appeals to the South African market and especially to estates where houses are designed on a large scale for visual appeal and impact,” he says.


The most popular tiles that tie into this trend are polished marble in all colours, including rich dark colours and classic white, black and grey. Inkjet technology allows for reproductions of real marble and agate in a high-gloss finish. These tiles feature super-realistic prints and highly polished finishes. Richly embellished decor and trims were also prominent.


Bathroom ware:

“Classic shapes tie into this theme although we saw some over-the-top pieces this year,” says Dyssel. Gold is important and is featured in tiles, decorations and bathroom ware.

Gritty City

Who knew that corrosion and decay can be a leading interior design trend? In this theme beauty is found in rusted and corroded patterns. The city, industrial landscapes and even graffiti are some of the inspirations behind this theme.


Faded, worn colours and designs feature on tiles. Rust finishes on tiles draw inspiration from abraded metal while wood-look tiles imitate fossilised surfaces and are also worn and splintered. Stone prints show exposed aggregates and concrete tiles are rough and pitted. Tiles that look like bricks and brick-shaped metro tiles replicate this theme.

Not all the fashion trends seen will make inroads into South African market as they may not complement our local tastes and styles. However, Tile Africa Contracts customers can look forward to combined materials and finishes as well as the return of colour.

We’ll definitely see an increased uptake in inkjet technology tiles, especially customised designs that are tailored to corporate customers’ requirements,” he says.

Wood-look tiles will also grow in popularity, particularly in retail spaces and restaurant interiors. “We’ve successfully specified wood-look tiles for customers in the hospitality and financial services sectors and their feedback has been extremely positive. These tiles are also prevalent in the residential market,” says Dyssel.

Inside outside applications where smooth and slip-resistant finishes are available in the same design are also popular as they create a homogenous look. “These tiles are now manufactured locally, which has an added cost benefit,” he says.


DesignMind is an on-line market place for South Africans to find inspiring home building and decorating ideas and the suppliers best able to make home improvement dreams a reality.

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