Brands and buyers from around the world gathered in Las Vegas in April for the 2022 Coverings Global Tile and Stone Experience. Like the KBIS-IBS pairing two months earlier, this event had high energy and a strong array of exhibitors. At nearly 18,000 attendees from the U.S. and abroad, show traffic was up 18% compared to 2021.
One common refrain heard around the expo floor was ‘We released this series in 2021, but very few saw it then.’ Everything almost old was new again. Here are some of the top style, standards and innovation trends to consider for your kitchen, bath, outdoor living space and whole house projects.
A quick note: Wood-look tiles, which have been so strong in recent years, were still present, but much less so than at past shows. Distressed planks and chevrons were popular in this category. Encaustic styles were also fewer and farther between. The geometric genre where they live got a fresh update for 2022.
The pandemic has brought fresh attention to the wellness properties of tile, and many brands have responded with new offerings and claims. While touting antimicrobial or antibacterial agents meant to address health concerns, there has been a fair amount of conversation about product claims and supports. To address this concern for specifiers, 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 sanitization, and preservation of the finish over time. As TCNA noted in its announcement at Coverings, there are many tests for surfaces, but few have been applied specifically to ceramic tile. This should be extremely helpful to architects, designers, contractors, property managers and builders.
Another set of standards will address usage categories on where a tile should and should not be installed for optimal slip resistance. The new classifications to be included will be ID for Interior, Dry; IW for Interior, Wet; IW+ for Interior Wet Plus; EW for Exterior, Wet and O/G for Oils/Greases.
This will let specifiers know which to use for patios, pool decks or powder rooms, kids’ bathrooms or the homeowner running a catering business from her kitchen.
Bold and Beautiful
Now for the sexy stuff…
Bold Stones: One of the biggest, boldest and most beautiful trends at Coverings was the natural stone look, often shown in oversized slabs. These large format tiles are not new, but the selection and production quality have greatly increased. You could scarcely walk an aisle without seeing at least one stunning exotic mineral, onyx or marble look. Book-matching capability is increasingly available, too, creating the potential for stunning backsplashes and shower surrounds. Gloss was the most popular finish.
The bold stone look showed up in all the pavilions this year. Many of the largest, most handsome slabs originated in Spain and Italy, where production techniques for these styles have been perfected over the past decade, but they’re starting to be manufactured in the U.S., too. It’s likely that we’ll be seeing many more of these offerings for walls and countertops manufactured here – as their popularity continues to grow – making this a natural for specifiers seeking domestic product.
Jewel Tones: Brilliant colors also trended strongly in Vegas, especially blues and greens. They were present in all the latest shapes and finishes, including the bold stones noted above, but also in glossy mosaics and saturated matte tiles. Golds and rubies softened into geometrics to deliver color without shouting. Essentially, you could enjoy jewel tones with or without flash, depending on your aesthetic preferences.
Geometrics: Interesting shapes and patterns have long been a tile trend, but this generation feels more current. There were numerous arches, chevrons, mini stick mosaics, concrete and plaster finishes, and dimensional formats. You could evoke history with pattern as many have done with encaustic tiles for years, but update it with fresh, more modern patterns. There were glossy and metallic accents, as well as monochromatic looks.
Terrazzo: Another retro style that got updates at Coverings, there were new forms, finishes and colors of terrazzo 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, from micro to macro sizes and shapes.
Biophilia: Flora and fauna cavorted across the show floor in tiles both artistic and playful, modern and retro. You could get tropical, floral or frolic undersea with playful starfish. There were plenty of retro, nature-inspired wallpaper looks, too.
In fact, tile that bears a striking resemblance to wallpaper – but will go into places wallpaper won’t, like tub and shower walls – was a very strong trend. There were botanical wall murals as well, turning tile into art but, again, going into spaces that art won’t venture.
Organic Textures: Texture was a big play 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 beaded/stippled look. This can add interest to a simple wall tile or add slip resistance to a floor series. Matte neutrals with embossed patterns were everywhere for the client who wants something more subtle and modern amid all the rocks and roses! Concrete and cement looks also continued to trend for those seeking a more urban or industrial look.
Oxidized Finishes: This was another continuing trend that adds steampunk or gritty style to a space. Some brands blended the oxidized look with other details – like metallics or geometrics – for more interest. Oxidized finishes can make for a low maintenance look for busy spaces and add versatility to a designer’s palette, especially for a project seeking a rustic or dramatic look.
Ceramic tile continues to be a tremendously popular material with increasing uses, like outdoor pavers, exterior cladding, countertops – even with built-in induction hobs – and wall art that provide a healthy and sustainable resource for design professionals. If this is a material you find yourself using in most or all of your projects – maybe in new ways – Coverings is definitely a worthwhile expedition.
The ability to explore surfacing from 30 countries around the world without a passport or jet lag is incomparable. Coverings 2023 will take place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando from April 18 to 23. It’s one of my ‘must-attends,’ 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. Her third book, Wellness by Design (Simon & Schuster), published September 1, 2020. Learn more about her Wellness Market presentations, books and consulting services at jamiegold.net.