Formats change markets’ dimensions

by Andrea Serri

They can be up to 3 cm high and up to 3.2 m long: Italian ceramic tiles have showed their latest formats at the last edition of Cersaie. The new thicknesses and lengths are ready for the market, opening wider scenarios than the simple product launching. The merging of global demand with technological innovation has produced a successful mixture, leading the way to the opening of new business areas – also in fields which have so far been considered unconventional.

No longer a niche product, thin tiles are today fully employed in renovation when demolition is possible only partly; in light commercial property; in façades, where lightness is essential. But thin ceramics is already being used to cover our home tables, creating harmonized spaces with high tech solutions;  and to replace laminates in our furniture. On the other hand, outdoor tiles are getting thicker and thicker, with 2cm being the standard thickness now. Thanks also to four different installation techniques, thick tiles find easy employment in residential construction, and there is a tendency to push towards the 3cm thick product. Ceramic slabs are also being used to cover public pavements and squares: this is partly a new world for the Italian ceramic industry, having to deal with new marketing models, technical features, and operators; yet its extraordinary potentialities (and formats) are already starting to emerge.

The change in size and formats also changes the focus on the operators to connect to, and who they are. Ceramics slabs currently available on the market are between 3 to 5 metres wide each, and even more. Space planning becomes therefore crucial, and the variety of possible projects gives  designers a more important and central role than they had in the past. The high price per unit of these slabs together with the necessity to ensure the best technical performance and the intriguing installation options available, make the role of designers an essential one. All of this is not meant to further weight down on the already long production chain: on the contrary, it hopes to bring about further developments, especially in those cases when architects play a proactive role in their jobs, figuring out, visualizing and then putting into practice the endless intended uses and applications of our ceramic slabs.

October 2015

[ Editorial of Cer Magazine NEWS n. 10/2015, e-magazine of Ceramics of Italy ]