CERSAIE - International Exhibition of Ceramic Tile & Bathroom Furnishings

WORDS Donna Blaber  First published in Renovate magazine


Featuring 965 exhibitors from 31 countries, CERSAIE, the International Exhibition of Ceramic Tile and Bathroom Furnishings, is the world’s leading trade fair for ceramic tiles and bathroom furnishings. Carleen Woolley of Heritage Tiles attended the show.


Multiply Auckland’s popular Ellerslie Homeshow by a factor of 10 and you’re getting close to the size of the five-day CERSAIE International Exhibition of Ceramic Tile and Bathroom Furnishings, held annually in the northern Italian province of Bologna.

“And that would just be for the tile pavilions alone,” says Carleen Woolley of Heritage Tiles who attended this year’s show. “There are another eight pavilions showcasing bathroom fixtures, plus numerous outside stands.”

A shuttle train transports the show’s visitors (who this year numbered well over 100,000) between pavilions housing everything from ceramic tile exhibitions and bathroom furnishings through to sanitary installations, fireplaces, ceramic stoves and tiled kitchens, plus raw materials and tools for installation. A plethora of workshops and conferences run continuously throughout the show’s duration, along with Cersaie’s cultural programme “Building Dwelling Thinking” which attracts leading architects and designers from around the globe.

 “The environment is high energy and there’s a visual feast of modern organic displays,” says Carleen. “The largest brands employ an architect to design their stands – and this is obvious from the moment you enter when you are quite literally wowed by the variety of sophisticated and elegant ways the spaces are staged with props and visuals. It’s an overload of cool, inspiring looks that are tastefully created.”

Carleen was particularly impressed by the visual merchandising which incorporated a range of props such as chairs, lamps, bookcases, plants and mirrors to create warm and engaging spaces, as well as the use of lots of bold colours. “It turned the displays into real life installations,” she says. “We’re currently scouting for props and we’ll introduce this display style into our brand new Heritage Tiles Botany store.”

The show also revealed that large format tiles are increasing in popularity, as are new surface treatments. “The range of new surface treatments was amazing,” says Carleen. “My favourite was the ‘in and out’ dots by Mutina – it felt like suede to touch!”

She was also drawn to the Onice range from Italgraniti – mainly the opulent and sophisticated wall tiles in pearlised damask. “They had a real Versace feel,” she said. “The Italians are effortlessly stylish with signature individuality, and we can adapt this to suit New Zealand homes.”

So in addition to dynamic new showroom displays can keen Kiwi renovators expect to see new ranges in-store?  “Definitely,” says Carleen. “There are at least 15 ranges I will personally be pushing to buy!”