CID speaks to professionals from the region about nature-oriented trends in the realm of interior design, the marble revival and how tiles keep getting bigger and bigger
With annual growth of 8.5% from 2014, the global ceramic tile market is expected to reach $125.32bn by 2020, according to research by Grand View Research. With the Expo 2020 on the way and the region’s construction sector experiencing strong growth, Stefan Schmied, head of tiles and sanitaryware at RAK Ceramics, confirms that marble and ceramic tiles are likely to see a further increase in demand.
Schmied says: “The marble and ceramics industry has become very fast paced recently as the building materials market in the region continues to prosper. There is a significant demand for new design trends to complement the shifting tastes of consumers and the latest fashions in interior design.”
When it comes to latest designs, Schmied adds that luxurious materials and aesthetics are becoming even more important.
“The design trends are inspired from nature. Companies are trying to achieve natural look and feel in terms of colours, patterns and the touch of the ceramic surface. This gives customers aesthetics of nature and durability of ceramics. The feel, finish and touch that emulate natural products is appreciated and demanded by customers, whether it’s wood, metal or marble.”
For its latest launch, RAK Ceramics managed to have a balanced portfolio of products consisting of 15 designs, which include the Solids Range, Marbles Range, Concrete Range, Wood Range and Metal Range. The designs come in different colours and are continuously developed according to customer needs.
Although there is a strong emphasis on more neutral colours and earthy palettes, such as grey and brown, Ali Maarrawi, general manager of Cosentino Middle East, also notices that in marble design the trend is moving towards exotic colours that are hard to find or replicate in artificial stones like Azul Bahia.
He explains: “We are launching more new colours in our breakthrough product Dekton, like wooden grains or the concrete look, among many others. Due to its creamy beige colour and cosy texture, the Danae colour is one of the favourites in the Middle East. We are delivering this colour right now to the 360 Mall in Kuwait for the flooring of the food court. Its superior features of non-staining, non-absorbent, non-scratching and high flexural strength make it a practically maintenance-free surface. Also the most wanted design is the imitation of Statuario or Carrara marble with continuous veining and book matching patterns.”
So how are ceramics and marble being treated to imitate other materials, such as wood, marble and stone? Maarrawi reveals: “In Dekton we can achieve very innovative designs in colours, textures and even embossed patterns (see picture 6), an unprecedented novelty of a great added value for the market.”
The Grand View Research report shows that floor tile was the largest product segment for ceramic tile market, accounting for over 50% of market volume. Besides the volumes growing, it seems that tiles are getting bigger and bigger – and that this trend is here to stay.
“The ceramic trend is going towards using large format tiles with as few joints as possible and as thin as possible,” says Maarrawi.
Schmied agrees that large format tiles are gaining in popularity, as they provide a setting that promotes a very open look.
“The new trend at the moment is to go bigger and bolder. RAK Ceramics created an evolution in the large tiles segment of the industry with the launch of the extra-large format slab which appears almost as a single flooring or wall piece. The company was the first to manufacture it in the region using SACMI Continua+ technology. Maximus Mega Slab is available in four gigantic sizes (135x305cm, 120x240cm, 120x120cm and 290x240cm) and three thicknesses giving customers the flexibility to choose.”
Mohammed El Shamy, director of Arteco Ceramics, says that its large tile collection has been very successful due to its luxury appeal.
“We are proud to be the leading distributors of the large format porcelain tile from a leading world manufacturer Graniti Fiandre. Maximum series, in its innovative 300x150cm format, combines design freedom with great flexibility. On one hand the maxi-slab dramatically reduces the number of interruptions in the design unit and, on the other, the wide range of submultiples offered guarantees great versatility for all requirements. Maximum aims to offer a new architectural concept that goes beyond that of an individual slab. It enables designers to reinvent design criteria, giving them maximum freedom and minimal restrictions.”
Green innovation is in demand by customers and shareholders alike and is in line with government directions around the world towards sustainable developments and buildings. Ceramic tiles may be one of the most sustainable products on the market, but sustainable manufacturing and high eco-efficiency is equally significant when talking about “going green”.
“Sustainability is a major consideration in the manufacturing any of RAK Ceramics products and is taken into account throughout the entire production process,” says Schmied. “RAK Ceramics was the first ceramics manufacturer in the region to produce a sustainability report following the Global Reporting Initiative framework in 2014, highlighting the sustainable developments and activities performed by the company. Some of the most important highlights include the recyclable manufacturing process which reduces the consumption of water and energy.”
Shamy also points out that that 1000m2 of the Active ceramic tiles from Fiandre, that they are dsitributing, have the same beneficial effect of 300 trees.
He explains: “It is the result of years of commitment to the ecological cause and a leap into the future in terms of product technology and design. Charged with Titanium Dioxide, when exposed to light a catalytic reaction occurs and drastically reduces airborne pollutants in the proximity of the surface. As an indoor solution, Active is highly recommended for residential buildings, spas, hotels, restaurants, gyms, schools and medical centres. Outdoor surfaces in Active are dirt repellent, making the use of detergents practically unnecessary.”
With its global presence, wide range of colours and finish pallete, Cosentino accommodates all design requirements, budgets and tastes. However, Maarrawi notices that there are certain differences to the Middle East market.
“The colour trends are different especially for individual clients where a preference of busier tonalities and veins can be clearly seen along with a fondness for very polished finishes. In European countries, on the other hand, you might see a different tendency towards more subtle and plain colours with matt finishes.”
Schmied agrees and says: “The difference between the Middle Eastern and global tile market is probably the aesthetic appearance, consumer tastes and additional regional preferences, such as highly sustainable, water resistant, antimicrobial and fireproof qualities. Product prices could also vary between the Middle East and global destinations, as they are primarily determined by the application of tiles and not necessarily the models.