If you weren’t aware already, 2012 has already proven that it’s time to get excited to be a part of the ceramic tile industry again. In this humble tile junky’s opinion, taking the long view, 2008’s global economic meltdown did more good than bad for our industry. Never before have property owners (commercial or residential) been more aware that the safest investment vehicle is in their real estate. Consequently, consumers have never been more receptive to the ROI hard surfaces provide. Unsurprisingly, ceramic tile was the fastest growing flooring sector in the USA last year. The momentum is building and the manufacturers are working hard to provide all the tools necessary for distribution, retail and design professionals to take full advantage.
I call this year the ‘Renaissance Reprise’ of ceramics. The last technology boom of digital glazing has now reached almost the entire sector giving everyone time to work out the kinks & find their POV. The universal adoption and maturation of this technology is pushing quality & aesthetic boundaries at a staggering pace. We have the most intelligent, responsive, technical product at our fingertips now with ripe & mature designs offering a level of aesthetics that’s almost unimaginable since tile was handmade by master artists of the renaissance. Like that period of our history, it is the competition between today’s masters that stokes the fires of innovation, pushing new developments to evolve at nearly breakneck speeds.
Perhaps the most important shift in consumers for the industry instigated by the recession is the evolving luxury sector. Across nearly all industries, it is the luxury demographic that is showing the most robust growth. Consumers are looking for quality materials with history, produced in a responsible manner that offers timeless refinement yet remaining approachable and durable enough for daily use- a fairly demanding list of criteria, which ceramics can uniquely satisfy. This new consumer is not looking for the $0.99/sft ‘baked dirt’ of the industry- they crave the experience, investment value and superior quality offered by the crème of ceramic manufacturers and most importantly see paying a premium as good value for value.
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Ryan Fasan is a partner of Professional Attention to Tile Installations (p.a.t.t.i.) and technical consultant and trainer for Tile of Spain.