Brick makes a comeback

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Super-sized slabs and 3D walls continue to grow in popularity as tile industry favorites, but this year is all about brick.

RAK Ceramics launched 30 new collections of porcelain and ceramic tiles at Cersaie, the Italian tile show held annually in Bologna, alongside new sanitaryware and tableware collections. Commercial Interior Design talks to Stefan Schmied, president of tiles and sanitaryware division at RAK Ceramics, about the latest trends in the world of tiles as well as recent technology developments, allowing manufacturers to create bespoke and customised tiles to any designer’s specifications.

Commenting on the latest technology and the ways it affects the design process, Schmied says the company has invested heavily in research and development to ensure it remains at the cutting edge of ceramics’ production globally.

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“We are one of the largest ceramics’ manufacturing plants in the world, with the latest technologies all under one roof,” says Schmied. “With the technology we have at our fingertips, there are no limits. From 10x10cm up to 135x305cm, we can produce tiles of any size, any colour and any design, allowing us to produce bespoke tiles to meet the needs of whatever architects or designers desire. We want to empower our customers and offer them true customisation in every sense of the word. At RAK Ceramics we want our products to inspire and enable designers to create without limitations. We want to give our customers room for imagination.”

Supersized tiles and 3D walls were among the trending design themes seen during 2016 and Schmied anticipates that these trends will continue next year.

He says: “The latest trends we saw exhibited at Cersaie include super-sized slabs with fresh new patterns and designs such as Maximus Mega Slab. Super-sized slabs continue to grow in popularity and their versatility and durability make them an exciting choice for architects and designers alike. Structured wall tiles in rectangular sizes with contrasting textures and patterns are also popular.

Schmied expects that the emerging trend of 3D tiles will continue to develop.

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“With the technology we now have available, it is possible to produce 3D tiles with more textured patterns using digital printing technology, which can be fully customised to suit a client’s needs. Ridges, whirls, bumps, and shifts in grain are all possible, enabling us to create both unique visual experiences and more tactile surfaces,” he says.

The return of brick-look tiles is one of the growing trends and they come in a wide variety of sizes and finishes. Catering to this trend, RAK Ceramics has recently introduced its new Brick collection.

Schmied continues: “Reminiscent of the walls of old forts, our Country Brick collection has a unique modern charm. The colour palette consists of light grey, grey, dark grey, beige, dark beige and brown, giving spaces a rustic and yet contemporary look. Suitable for application in a range of residential and commercial areas, Country Brick perfectly complements wood and concrete effect tiles and is available in size 7x28cm or hexagonal 20x23cm.”

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The company also introduced the Loft Brick collection of white body ceramic tiles with a brick-like structure and glossy surface. The collection is available in a wide range of bright and on-trend colours, including white, greige, light greige, grey, black, warm white, beige, brown, light green and yellow. When it comes to colours and patterns, Schmied says that new ceramics’ collections this year have been heavily influenced by Nordic design.

“Clean lines, diagonal and geometric shapes and neutral calming colours will all feature. At the same time, expect to see flashes of colour providing accent detail and eclectic decor mixes.

“At Cersaie we recently presented a new range of marbles and woods. Our marbles are a fresh and modern combination of traditional and contemporary influences. Atlantis Marble is inspired by the elegance of traditional marble; our Golden Marble is reminiscent of royal marble and characterised by its precious gold veins, and our Dream Marble takes its inspiration from a classical smooth marble.

“Our new wood collections are designed to look and feel like real wood, adding warmth and a contemporary feel to spaces. The new collection includes Circle Wood, inspired by the essence of real wood with all its unique circles and veins; Hard Wood, reminiscent of rustic timber; and Line Wood which is based on traditional oak.”

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Schmied also sees a strong trend towards mixing white marbles with woods, creating a contemporary look and feel to spaces.

“We are also seeing the same concept in our concrete and textile collections and mixing is a must whether that be colours, textures, designs or sizes,” he says. “Mix and match is a modern way to use ceramics, bringing together traditional and modern materials, small sizes with super-sized slabs, different shapes and shades of colour, creating an exciting new style of surface design.”

The design approach in the Middle East is, according to Schmied, still strongly influenced by Arabic culture and heritage, but is also very contemporary.

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He says: “Boutique hotels are re-inventing spaces using creative recycling as well as raw materials, which lead to more sustainable venues. Some of them are simplifying their designs with clean lines, softer colours and decors, while others are aiming for a cosy atmosphere with accent details and use of bright colours.

“Popular colours include natural hues and modern greys, but we’ve also seen an explosion of colour and eclectic decor mixes. Softly curved lines, neat shapes, and natural looking materials are also on trend. Lines are becoming blurred with the integration of indoor and outdoor spaces and a key design trend is keeping the indoor/outdoor transition as fluid as possible. Surfaces play a very important role in this. Nature is brought inside in every possible way through wood paneling, stone decoration, lush greenery or indoor waterfalls.”

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For product development RAK Ceramics is now taking a different approach and the product development team is now part of the marketing department. This way, the company ensures that its new products will meet market demand and also strengthens the link between product development and promotion.

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