Recent tile shows indicate there is more than just different forms of concrete to influence tile styles and design, according to international correspondent Joe Simpson.

One interesting trend that is really starting to gain traction – and should prove to be fertile ground for years to come – is the pairing of concrete-effect tiles with contrasting material influences, notably wood-effect tiles, but also including marble-effects, stone-effects, and metallic-effects.

The result are neutral colourways, unexpected patterns, and engaging textures. These new material melanges combine digital scanning, image manipulation software, and digital inkjet technology to offer a completely new set of aesthetic options.

When realised in cement tones, notably in the Shadow design, Ariana’s Worn range enhances the neutral industrial palette of concrete by adding this unexpected surface texture. It is a stylistically eclectic combination that would look equally at home in residential, commercial, or public spaces.

Con.Crea by Ariostea is inspired by brushed concrete and synthetic resins, and the combination of these two materials create surfaces with a cool, contemporary look. The Ultra Con.Crea Maxi Slabs collection features of-the-moment colours such as Cloud, Earth, Ink and Talc, in XXL and compact sizes. It also includes Dove Grey, a soft, neutral shade. Overall, the palette is organised by colour intensity, and offers the deepest black to optical white, via soft, warm shades. Surfaces of great depth are created, characterised by material effects and colour contrasts. Con.Crea is also available in natural, pre-polished, and non-slip finishes.

TexCem, a Ragno tile collection, reflects the retro look of dilapidated concrete with a fine fabric weave. A single rectified 325 by 977mm size is used across the five colours: Avorio, Cotto, Ottanio, Grigio, and Bianco. Available in a thickness of just 6mm (8mm for structures), it is intended for residential and light commercial use.

The range features two 3D structures, three decors, and one mosaic option. Inspired by the hand-shaping of concrete, and available in all the colour variants, the Groove 3D structure emphasises the flaws of the inspiration material; while the Tria 3D structure, also available in all colours, consists of triangular and square shapes that emerge on the surface of the material and underline its form.

TexCem is completed by various decors: Patch consists of a mix of ornamental geometrical patterns inspired by the world of fabrics; Esagone alternates decorated and solid colour modules with a vintage flavour; while Magnolia, a decor in the large 1,300 by 977mm size, comprising four elements and reinterprets the floral motifs of wallpaper. This really is a collection worth exploring in detail.

RAK’s M-Project is an exclusive concept that comes from the integrated development of materials such as stucco, spatulated resins, and woods, co-ordinated in a single colour palette. It provides further evidence of the aesthetic fusion of materials in modern tile ranges.

Spaces designed with M-Project have strong visual impact, enhanced by the fusion of different textures, formats, and warm or cold shades. Floors and walls gradually combine into a single stylistic solution that should capture the imagination of even the most demanding designers: something really evident in the M-Project Stucco variant. The theme continues with M-Project Spatolato: where the look and surface effects of spatulated resins and woods show the passage a craftsman’s hand.

Concrete is still here

While some concrete-effects from the past are sterile, minimalist, surfaces without personality, that is not the case with many of the current iterations. One of the most imaginative and striking is Hyper by Flaviker. This is offered in Wide, the term used by the company to refer to the large, lightweight 7mm porcelain slabs produced using Continua+ production technology.

The collection boasts hyper-realistic concrete effects that display all the signs of natural ageing. Cracks, holes, and stains are accurately reproduced using latest-generation digital technology. The three main colour options – taupe, grey, and silver – are complemented by some really powerful decors – Street Lover, Tiger and Rose – that bring an urban, street art, graffiti vibe. There is even a cut piece option – Hyper Slim Pack – that offers potential to set these neutral tones against contrasting or statement grout colours.

The Fincibec Group’s Over brand combines fashionable colours and materials with the technical benefits of porcelain stoneware and the creative freedom offered by large ceramic slabs, starting from 1,600 by 3,200mm. These slabs can be used for both floors and walls, as well as countertops, tables and doors. A nuanced concrete-effect vibe is key to the Over brand. It is a design that harks back to the group’s Century Uptown range. The grey variants have a raw concrete look, proving that with today’s ceramic tiles it is often hard to tell where stone ends and concrete begins.

A variation on the concrete-effect theme is provided by Artifact of Cerim; a glazed porcelain range that offers a fresh take on spatulated cement. Its aesthetic impact, antiqued and imperfect, conveys an artlessness that goes with the broad neutral colour selection. It is enhanced by shade variations spanning cool and warm tones.

The 10mm thick collection is offered is two main sizes (600 by 1,20mm, and 800 by 800mm) with modular sub-sizes. The 300 by 600mm format is also available in a grip outdoor finish. The cement tile’s graphic shade variations are used across six different neutral shades ranging from white to coal through grey and beige.

Iris’s Downtown transfers the immortality of concrete to porcelain surfaces for projects with a minimalist, contemporary character. It comes in four contrasting shades, from grey to brown, and three different sizes: 1,200 by 600mm, 600 by 600mm, and 300 by 600mm. The retro effect, obtained through scratches and colour contrasts, gives the collection a natural worn look. With Downtown, living rooms, bathrooms, and dining rooms are offered subtle shades, details, and patterns that render a simple material quite complex and distinct.

The Ikon collection, new to Ceramiche Keope’s portfolio, has the unmistakeable character of concrete. Drawing inspiration from urban style, this range reinterprets the raw reference material as porcelain stoneware. With its new 1,200 by 2,780mm maxi size – just 6mm – Ikon is ideal for creating continuous walls and floors.

Keope’s design features a selection of neutral tones: Sky, Grey, Beige, Silver, and White. These are available with a matte finish to create a dynamic, ultra-cmodern surface. Ikon is available in 1,200 by 2,780mm, 1,200 by 1,200mm, 300 by 1,200mm, 600 by 1,200mm, 600 by 600mm, and 300 by 600mm formats. To complete the line, Ceramiche Keope also offers trim pieces and decors to allow definition of even the smallest detail.

Resin-effects form a selective, yet important, sub-class of the concrete-effect trend. A good example is Paris by NovaBell: a modern design that evokes the paired-back beauty of resin surfaces to create spaces with an urban-chic allure. The Paris colour range draws inspiration from the latest interior design trends, with five natural, dusty shades – plume, amande, ash, ciment, and noir – conceived for use in combination, or for sophisticated monochrome spaces.

The zig zag, and righe (ridged) surface options bring tactile appeal to vertical surfaces; their textures defining spaces with a touch of dynamism. The Paris range spans from large 600 by 1,200mm XXL modules, that give continuity to surfaces, through to the exquisite 200 by 200mm tiles, rich in personality, that are ideal for all small public and domestic spaces. The full appeal of the Paris range is best seen, however, in the 1,200 by 1,200mm size, that delivers visual continuity to the vibrant patterns and tactile variations.

Panaria’s Context range was inspired by cement mortar, a traditional building material based on pure cement and fine inert minerals. Panaria has enhanced this material’s unique qualities to create a surface with a new aesthetic and texture. The range is available in five shades of grey – Square, Loft, Store, Hangar, and Mansion – which echo the natural colours of cement, with mosaics and decors adding extra design scopes.

The creative options are extended by the choice of thicknesses and sizes. Context introduces the 6mm thickness in 1,200 by 1,200mm, and 1,200 by 2,600mm laminated porcelain panels: a light, versatile, and resistant product. In addition to thin slabs, the range is also available in the more traditional porcelain stoneware thickness of 10mm, plus 20mm for outdoor use.

All the products in Panaria’s latest collections feature Protect antibacterial shield, and are part of the selection of Panariagroup products with Microban anti-bacterial surfaces.

The cement-effects in Porcelanosa’s HighKer series of XXL format ceramic tiles are typical of the blurring of the material lines between stone and cement. With four finishes and several different formats, Porcelanosa’s HighKer floor tile collections provide ample evidence to the company’s commitment to large formats. HighKer surfaces deliver optical continuity that maximises the feeling of spaciousness.

As well as cement-stone (or vice versa), HighKer also features natural wood-effects, polished surfaces, and several different formats. The Bottega, Harlem, Rodano, and Nantes designs, inspired by stone, come in a 1,200 by 1,200mm format, while Prada, Duomo, and Matt have been designed in a 1,000 by 1,000mm format. Nobu, which reproduces the richness of wood in different tones – Roble, Arce, and Natural – is available in a 294 by 1,800mm maxi-plank format: very of the moment.