Spotlight: The tile industry in 1998

Roto-Color Technology in the Karaben Ceramica factory in Castellon Spain in 2011.
Photo Courtesy of Life of an Architect.
In celebration of Coverings’s Silver Anniversary, our trip continues through the last 25 years in the tile and stone industry, stopping this week in 1998. We sat down with ceramic tile and stone writer, speaker, blogger, product designer and consultant Ryan Fasan to talk about how the industry has changed over the course of those years.
According to Fasan, it was the innovation of Roto-Color Application Technology that effected the most change in the industry during this era. Introduced in 1995, its use was widespread among tile manufacturers by 1998. The vast and versatile screen-printing drums of the Roto-Color process had the spontaneous and realistic ability to create ceramic collections wherein over 200 square feet of tile could be comprised entirely of unique pieces. The flexibility of this new technology allowed for endless possibilities in tile production, beyond the capabilities of the previous norm – static screen-printing.
The Roto-Color Technology radically changed the level of variation possible in the creation of tile, inciting the industry to create a “variation scale.” Tile collections with little to no variation were known as V1, going up the scale to V4, which, in Fasan’s words, consisted of “variation including everything but the kitchen sink.” Sampling programs in the industry also had to be drastically rethought, as a single piece or even a carton of tile couldn’t represent a whole collection effectively.
Look out for our next post in this series in March, as we jump forward to 2003.