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After a Covid-induced hiatus last year, Coverings returned to Orlando on July 7–9 for its 2021 edition. The annual tile and stone exhibition, though smaller than in years past, hosted over 325 exhibitors and nearly 10,000 attendees. According to the Tile Council of North America, U.S. ceramic tile consumption in 2020 was down 3.5% from 2019, mostly due to changes in imports from China, but that figure is trending upward in 2021, and Spain has replaced China as the largest importer of ceramic product to the U.S.  

On the show floor, manufacturers and distributors unveiled myriad new formats and patterns inspired by the soothing effects of nature, setting the trends for a post-pandemic world, many of which overlap. 

Green tile trend.

Metallica by Viva (Color: Green Lux) / Ceramics of Italy

Green is back in a big way. Everything from saturated emerald to softer mint and sage hues were showcased in ways that made them seem like neutrals. Color trends cycle in and out over the years, but this one seems like it will be evergreen.  

Soft tile textures.

D'Autore by Natucer / Tile of Spain

Soft textures 
3D tiles, with texture and dimension, have been popular for some time now, but muted textures in soft colors create a calming effect. Manufacturers have noticed consumers’ desire to create sanctuary-like environments—especially in kitchens and bathrooms—and have given them plenty of tactile surfaces in neutral shades to choose from.

flecked effect trend.

The new Argillae collection by APE Grupo is designed by architect Luigi Romanelli.

Photo © Architectural Record

Flecked effect
As one of the bolder trends, flecked, terrazzo-like tiles—composites of natural materials pressed into the porcelain—create a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. This reinterpretation of the classic, more labor-intensive material looks especially sleek in larger format applications on floors and countertops.

XL tile trend.

Plane 2.0 by StonepeakCeramics / Tile Council of North America

As with most trends, tile sizes have cycled in and out of style throughout the years. Right now, large-format porcelain panels on walls, floors, and countertops are popular for the clean, stone-like feel and continuity they provide with far fewer maintenance issues. On the trade show floor, we saw slabs measuring up to 15 feet in length.

Biophilia trend.

Berlin collection by Dune / Tile of Spain

In an effort to design interiors that connect with natural elements—especially after the 15 months we all spent in our homes—we’re seeing a surge in biophilia-inspired wall and flooring tiles. Wood look porcelain maintains its popularity—as it is less expensive, easier to care for, and more durable than traditional wood flooring—as well as organic shapes, textures, and variegated colors.