Brands and buyers from around the world gathered in Las Vegas in April for the Coverings Global Tile and Stone Experience 2022. Like the KBIS-IBS duo two months earlier, this event saw strong momentum and strong presence of exhibitors. With nearly 18,000 attendees from the United States and abroad, show traffic grew 18% over 2021.
A common refrain heard around the expo floor was “We released this series in 2021, but very few saw it then.” Everything that was almost old was new again. Here are some of the top trends in style, standards, and innovation to consider for your kitchen, bathroom, outdoor living space, and entire home projects.
A quick note: wood-look tiling, so popular in recent years, was still present, but much less so than at past shows. Distressed planks and rafters were popular in this category. Encaustic styles were also fewer in number and more widely spaced. The geometric genre they live in has received a new update for 2022.
The pandemic has brought new attention to the wellness properties of tile, and many brands have responded with new offers and claims. While touting antimicrobial or antibacterial agents to address health issues, there has been a lot of conversation about product claims and backings. To address this prescriber concern, the Tile Council of North America has developed a set of measurements and standards. Surfaces with these properties will be tested for resistance to microorganisms, ease of cleaning and disinfection, and preservation of the finish over time. As TCNA noted in its announcement to Coverings, there are many tests for surfaces, but few have been applied specifically to ceramic tile. This should be extremely useful for architects, designers, contractors, property managers, and builders.
Another set of standards will deal with use categories on where a tile should and should not be installed for optimum slip resistance. New classifications to include will be ID for Indoor, Dry; IW for interior, wet; IW+ for Interior Wet Plus; EW for exterior, wet and O/G for oils/greases.
This will help specifiers know which one to use for patios, pool decks or powder rooms, children’s bathrooms or the homeowner who runs a catering business from their kitchen.
Bold and beautiful
Now for the sexy stuff…
Bold Stones: One of the biggest, boldest and most beautiful trends at Coverings was the look of natural stone, often represented in oversized slabs. These large format tiles are not new, but the selection and production quality have increased significantly. You could hardly walk down an aisle without seeing at least one beautiful look of exotic mineral, onyx or marble. The ability to pair books is also increasingly available, creating the potential for stunning backsplashes and shower surrounds. Gloss was the most popular finish.
The bold look of stone was evident in all pavilions this year. Many of the largest and finest slabs originated in Spain and Italy, where the production techniques for these styles have been perfected over the past decade, but they are also beginning to be manufactured in the United States. . It’s likely that we’ll see many more of these offerings for walls and countertops made here – as their popularity continues to grow – making them a natural choice for specifiers looking for domestic products.
Jewel tones: Bright colors are also trending heavily in Vegas, especially blues and greens. They were present in all the latest shapes and finishes, including the bold stones mentioned above, but also in glossy mosaics and saturated matte tiles. Golds and rubies have mellowed in geometry to offer color without screaming. Essentially, you can enjoy jewel tones with or without flash, depending on your aesthetic preferences.
Geometry: Interesting shapes and patterns have long been a tile trend, but this generation feels more current. There were numerous arches, rafters, mini stick mosaics, concrete and plaster finishes and dimensional formats. You can evoke history with patterns as many have done with encaustic tiles for years, but update them with fresh, more modern patterns. There were shiny and metallic accents, as well as monochromatic looks.
Terrazzo: Another retro style that was updated at Coverings, there were new terrazzo shapes, finishes and colors on display that could take this versatile look and turn it into something fresh and fun. It was rendered in black and white and in fun, playful colors and unique pattern scales, micro to macro sizes and shapes.
Biophilia: Fauna and flora frolicked on the exhibition floor in tiles that were both artistic and playful, modern and retro. You could have tropical, floral or frolic subs with playful starfish. There were also plenty of nature-inspired retro wallpapers.
In fact, tiles that look strikingly like wallpaper – but will go in places wallpaper won’t, like tub and shower walls – were a very strong trend. There were also botanical murals, turning tiles into art but, again, entering spaces that art would not venture.
Organic textures: Texture was a big game this year. Plaster took a historic style found in many older homes and made it easily accessible (and safer) via ceramic. Another texture was a subtle pearl/dotted look. It can add interest to a simple wall tile or add slip resistance to a series of floors. Matte neutrals with raised patterns were everywhere for the customer who wants something more subtle and modern amidst all the rocks and pinks! Concrete and cement looks have also continued to be trending for those looking for a more urban or industrial look.
Oxidized finishes: This was another ongoing trend that adds a steampunk or gritty style to a space. Some brands have mixed the oxidized look with other details – like metals or geometry – for added interest. Oxidized finishes can lend a low-maintenance look to busy spaces and add versatility to a designer’s palette, especially for a project looking for a rustic or dramatic look.
Ceramic tile continues to be an extremely popular material with growing uses, such as exterior pavers, exterior cladding, countertops – even with built-in induction hobs – and wall art that provide a healthy and sustainable resource for design professionals. If it’s a material you use in most or all of your projects – perhaps in new ways – Coverings is definitely an interesting expedition.
The ability to explore the surface of 30 countries around the world without a passport or jet lag is unparalleled. Coverings 2023 will take place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando from April 18-23. It’s one of my “must sees”, so I’ll probably be there. Will I see you? ▪
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCCWC is an author, wellness design consultant and NKBA Chapter presenter. His third book, Wellness by design (Simon & Schuster), published September 1, 2020. Learn more about his presentations, books and consulting services in the wellness market at jamiegold.net.