Special edition ENGLISH

Responding to several requests, we provide the translation of the report in English.
We would like to remind new readers that this report was created for our customers and friends in the Sassuolo ceramic district, the focus is on Italian companies: the tone is ironic. Some puns and allusions for insiders are sometimes not perfectly translatable.

If this is your first time reading one of our Reports, we introduce ourselves.

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Note to the Readers (for new readers)

The UFO report is an informal account with images and impressions from our staff during Cersaie Week. The tone is ironic and light-hearted, and we make no claims to be exhaustive or holders of absolute truth.

– We make an effort to be as “neutral” as possible regarding the companies we collaborate with.

– We apologize in advance if anyone feels offended or disadvantaged in any way, as well as for any inaccuracies.

Emotions, Stirrings, and CTA

A heartfelt thank you to those who welcomed, refreshed, and endured us for 5 days and beyond. We promise to be back next year. We were moved by the spontaneous appreciation of our previous reports and the requests for the new edition.

Pro Level. There are many more reflections, insights, and ideas. If you’d like to have a chat for deeper discussion and exchange, feel free to contact us because we’d enjoy it too. (Spoiler: this is a CTA, which means a call to action).

What Have We Seen That’s Remarkable?

Here we are. Never before this year have we found ourselves a bit stumped by the ritual question: “What have you seen that’s remarkable, what do you recommend I see? (Reflection pause) “…mmhh …eeehh”

Asking is fair, answering is courtesy, naming names is disclosure. This theme does not allow for simplifications. Let’s begin by distinguishing between exhibition and booth (chapter 1-2) and products (in chapter 3-4).


Good job, low wow

Wandering through the central pavilions, the setups are well-finished, functional, and tastefully furnished… but there’s rarely that “wow” factor that manages to astonish seasoned visitors in search of scoops. The approach is pragmatic. After all, this is a B2B fair; it doesn’t have to amaze tourists but inspire qualified retailers and professionals interested in high-end surfaces.

Message in a bottle

After centuries of shyness, 2023 is the year of printed messages in front of stands. Sometimes, the slogan expresses a true concept that defines the stand’s layout and product philosophy; in other cases, it’s a simple graphic device to decorate a wall or space. Italian companies communicate strictly in English, while foreign companies use Italian from an automatic translator.


The growth of a user-friendly approach is commendable, where assortments are easily decipherable by the average user: the series name prominently displayed, a phrase describing the product’s inspirational foundation, a QR code for further exploration and memorization. Nearby, a color/format synthesis panel. Well done. With a few lines, materials and effects can be told and enhanced.

Details that matter

The Darwinian evolution of the display is evident in the improvement of details, with precise and sometimes whimsical finishes that elevate the overall normality. 

Inevitable are the mentions of matching products, and the color summaries are no longer mere stuck-on squares, but, like at least pizza-sized circles (the bare minimum since 2022), which now evolve into elegant rectangles with rounded edges or polygons of various shapes (Tagina, La Fabbrica). But today, pairing is never just one, so make way for swarms of mini-mood boards in every corner, like bugs in autumn. Elegantly shaped (Fap, Keope) and framed in a Japanese style (GruppoCerdisaRicchetti). Rounded polygons – but more elongated – also for the color summary of the slabs. Not to mention the whimsical 10×10 cubes that transform the surface into a decorative object (La Fabbrica).

Coordinated contextualized

Apart from the aforementioned moodboard pandemic, if the offer focuses on mix & match and coordinated sets, it becomes natural to integrate staged scenes in the booth where colors, formats, and types come together in carefully studied combinations. The setting is not there to simply suggest a use (although it does), but rather to realistically contextualize the coordinated sets (and it does). The settings are animated by a few well-chosen objects and furnishings that do not overshadow (Fap, Imola, Del Conca, Edimax, Pastorelli). Small vases with dried twigs and sparse flowers are the 2023 super trend. Scenographies aiming for hyper-realism are rarer (Sant’Agostino and a few more). The idea of the apartment-like booth with a livable living room, sofa, and table, as well as bathroom and kitchen corners, is hard to let go of. Here and there, one can glimpse timid traces and vestiges.

ESG and Bcorp

The communication in the field of “sustainability” is growing compared to 2022, and now we talk about ESG: Environmental, Social, Governance with an upgraded cultural aspect, while overly generic green proclamations no longer enchant anyone. More and more companies publish their Sustainability Reports (not a light matter) or are on the roadmap to publish them. Returning to the fair, we encounter surfaces with compensated CO2 emissions (Panaria Group) and the return of “thin pressed” tiles in classic formats, less polluting and more suitable for overlapping renovations (Gresmalt Group, Mirage). The transition to a Bcorp company (which does not mean non-profit) is no longer an isolated case (Italgraniti at the fair, others like Florim and Terratinta outside the fair).

Action painting, show cooking & saxophone

Put someone to do anything in any booth: people pass by and start watching. It’s an unwritten but always valid principle.

From 14a ora italiana (Abk Group), a lab corner created full-time action painting-style decoration, complete with always fresh paint

From Rondine on Monday, a street artist painted a large and colorful mural live on the large brick-tiled wall. The subject: swallows. The work breaks the ancient taboo that considers painting or scribbling on tiles as sacrilegious. From Cerasarda, a master decorator gave lessons in artistic decoration on ceramics. After years of tile-chefs, show-cooking is on the decline: just a soft version from Museum, but in pole position is still in the trenches, the Abk Group’s microphone-wielding cook, a heroic Stakhanovite who tirelessly cooked over invisible induction burners for 5 days. Those who love the smell of sautéed food and braised wild boar early in the morning (quote: Apocalypse Now) could rejoice, and even others could smell it because you have to pass by there anyway.

And tradition reigns with the mysterious saxophonist, who, with black glasses and a progressively fading Panama hat, blared the eardrums of passersby and neighbors, still in shock from Coverings. After three or four fairs, it’s still unclear if the song is always the same, but the lungs are certainly those of an Olympic marathoner.

And then, it’s aperitivo

If in the evening you add some music and a few drinks, for the solitary ceramist pierced by the last ray of sun, then it’s “Aperitivo.” (quote: the poem of Salvatore Quasimodo “ed è subito sera/and then it’s night”). The cheerful custom of indulging in a moment of conviviality at the end of the day is gaining popularity, benefiting both the fair and the atmosphere. Usually, the volume (and the elbow) is raised a bit after 5 PM, concluding the “ape-time” during official hours. In some cases, there have been extra innings, keeping the pavilion open (guarded) where people let loose in dances and little trains, with participants’ enthusiasm sometimes a bit uncontrollable. It’s worth trying the experience of leaving at 8:40 PM and, as you cross the deserted hallways, it feels like it’s already two in the morning.


It’s a thankless task, but it’s essential to mark our territory, so let’s remember with a mention a cluster of stands that, for one reason or another, caught our attention. The order is entirely random.

a. Italgraniti

One of the few “architectural” booths (with the exception of Vives), stands out for its wide and austere rationalist-style square (with vaguely cemetery-like aligned marble cubes). The settings of the side galleries are also well-maintained, albeit a bit narrow to make room for the agora.

b. Iris Ceramica Group

For Iris Ceramica Group, a “concept” space where the innovations were indeed noticeable: the long wall decorated with a neo-Michelangelo flavor (with interchangeable magnetic portions) was beautiful and scenic but somewhat concealed. More than the “high” group concept (The art of being…), the “magnetic” theme struck a chord. Innovative is the “circularity” of the stand, designed to be disassembled and reused in a “meccano” mode.

c. Fondovalle

Fondovalle, with the theme “a sense of peace,” focused on a Japanese mood. Consistent and well-curated spaces among ikebana, a table with kintsugi (golden crack) and coordinated catering, where the products complemented the serene atmosphere of Japanese lifestyle.

d. Elios

The multibox-monochrome silhouette of Elios overlooks the main thoroughfare, all covered in terracotta bricks, in various stylized structures (Dust series). Inside, a village of niche “houses” opens up on the square, where collections of very different types develop without clashing.

e. Ermesaurelia

While in many stands, the use of openings and showcases fragmented the unified impact, the quilted shell of ErmesAurelia hit the mark: a compact and recognizable “box” earned the outsider the ADI award; inside, refined exhibition arrangements for soft-look products.

f. FAP

Fap stages “welcome to colorland,” an immersive integration of concept, product proposals, and exhibition layout. Five collections converse, exploring different materials, mini and maxi formats in single-fired and porcelain stoneware. Five bathroom settings where as many mixes express a chromatic mood. The indispensable moodboard wall and living space are also well-curated.

g. 41zero42

Pleasant and bright in its simplicity, the space of 41zero42 is blue and airy like a spring sky, with the conviviality of the long table. The presentation of small colored or relief travertine coverings is essential. The outbuilding of sister company Sodai is surprising and vibrant, with its distinctive production and creative philosophy, displaying a kaleidoscope of colors and graphics. Wow.

h. Novoceram

Novoceram surprises again, with a highly accessorized vintage-Hawaiian scenography, including plastic swordfish, surfboards, and stuffed parrots. A fantastically dissonant space with pleasant but ordinary exhibited products, including regular travertine. But they scored full of selfies, photos, and memorabilia, so it’s a yes for us. The cardboard “coming soon” silhouettes for future formats are irreverent.

i. Gruppo Romani

Special mention by ADI for the “natural architectures” of the Gruppo Romani, enhanced by intriguing social communication. The large central space becomes the bed of a river modulated by currents. The dramatic ceiling-hanging installation finds reference in sinuous floor-seating elements. Around it, the customary proactive showcase of products.

j. Ceramica Sant’Agostino

High marks in the word of mouth about Sant’Agostino, it’s now a commonplace, they’re the class brainiacs. The winning formula remains unchanged; on one side, a small apartment with hyper-realistic sets featuring a selection of products, on the other, a rigorous museum gallery presenting collections impeccably. Nothing new, but hats off.

k. Lea

In an essential layout, the arrangement of the Lea supercollections on large walls was airy and creative, almost like an installation. As a substantive backdrop, infographic walls with technical information.


Surprisingly, from a product perspective, Cersaie 2023 was lively and bubbly like never before. It might be due to climate change, but it seems like the winds have shifted. Or so it seems when you look at the variety of offerings, products, formats, and choices of what to highlight.

Behind this change, you can also discern an evolution in market tastes, a desire for personalization and color, breaking free from the dictatorship of gray-taupe minimalism.

More ingredients to cook with, everyone combines them in their own way to plate their stand. Proposals are multiplying, the menu is more diverse. And since appetite comes with eating, we hope the stomach is filled with orders, without anything indigestible.

A little upheaval

Quite surprisingly, the showcases of Cersaie 2023 witnessed the eclipse of certain types that dominated the previous year (see the 2022 report) and now appear more timid and withdrawn. Among the former front-runners, we bid farewell to jungle and floral wallpapers (in XL or M sizes), flashy marbles in large slabs and tiles, resin-coated cements, as well as “ceppo” and terrazzo.

This eclipse disrupts the traditional softness in the fair’s life cycle (at least 3-4 years from the first pioneers to the rearguard). This upheaval may also be a response to distributors’ warehouses still being full, which, in the post-Covid era, suffered from product overload (overabundance). By steering the trend towards other types, ceramists have bypassed the objection of “I already have it.”

Size and muscle don’t matter (anymore)

The race for muscular technology is subsiding: the largest format, the through vein, the super-thick, and the super-digital. This magnificent obsession has monopolized energies and strategies, with the through vein slab being the legendary El Dorado for years, everything else is boring.

The evolution in product design has suffered as it somewhat flattened into the comfort zone of recurring and bouncing proposals from one brand to another. Hence, years of new products marched in compact rows: calacatta, concrete and cement tiles, ceppo-di-gré stones, wallpaper.

Big slabs benched

The turning point is particularly evident in the “large slabs” theme: whether self-produced or taken from across the street, practically everyone has them in their range. So, Radio Cersaie has decided that big slabs are no longer the must-have for every showcase. For non-specialized brands, slabs are downsized to the role of noble component in multi-format collections. 

The ace that took all in past fairs has been supplanted by varied proposals, crossing formats and materials between colors and looks that are less predictable. The obvious exception is specialist brands and those who recently joined the ranks of slab-endowed, proudly displaying them.


It’s almost normal to rationalize ranges by creating container collections by type (marbles, stones, cements, solid colors, wallpapers): they create critical mass, but above all, they offer great freedom in maintenance (put-take out annually without problems). The system overcomes the constraint of traditional series of 3-6 colors, which require a minimum number of articles to start – with inevitable burdens – and do not tolerate drastic or early pruning.

Remix Extended by designer

For some iconic mega collections, the time has come to integrate and revitalize. The collection gains thickness thanks to the intervention of prestigious designers. Lea (Segni decorations on Pigmenti, with Ferruccio Laviani, also the father of the mother collection). Mirage (Giulio Cappellini signs a set of composable decorations with textured rounds and squares, for the supercollection Glocal). Atlas Concorde (Boost Color with Piero Lissoni, the exhibition is very nice. Marvel Meraviglia decorations with Zaha Hadid Architects, somewhat in a mosque style). Poetry Colors (ABK‘s saga continues with Paola Navone).


The format of “mix collections” is taking off, overturning the traditional “Sassolese axiom” of a monothematic series: a look declined in “n” colors. Instead, here are aggregates of heterogeneous products, with material suggestions not necessarily coordinated with each other, to be assembled to create original and impactful outfits, perfect for representing individuality and lifestyle.

The taxonomy varies, from multi-material mix collections (Iris’s Tekhè) to color projects developed on multiple surfaces, including reliefs and wall finishes (Piemme’s Homey) to selected combos to express targeted lifestyles (Imola). Between sister or cousin series, extended families, and occasional relationships, the border is fluid, but there is a common DNA. GCR’s SYN project is emblematic, openly “declined in collections that do not live alone, but are created to merge with each other, indissolubly united by a chemistry rich in elective affinities, conceived and developed as a system within a single environment.”

The mischievous will think of marketing tricks or commercial bluffs, but it’s certainly an opening to compositional freedom and creativity.


1. Small, Colorful, Glazed

Small for all: a shower of full-color rectangles, it’s design, it’s material, it’s color, and above all, it’s contemporary and appealing. The format revolves around 6×24, and the vertical installation method erases the worn-out horizontal brick logic that was once associated with styles like shabby, urban, and industrial. The massive presence of these coverings may perhaps evoke some industrial regret for the “Made in Italy” label, which has long overlooked the production of bi-mono wall ceramics, leaving the realm to the Spanish and/or the Turks.


Multi-Use and Multi-Mix. With these little bricks, you can do it all: we’ve seen them on curved walls, backdrops, niches, countertops, and inserts. They come in multicolored or monochromatic mixes, but also in crossover combinations, serving as accents to enliven slabs and large formats with a stone, cement, or even marble effect. Because, more than ever, the interpretations of this ceramic-ceramic are multi-style, and this is quite something, hoping it’s just the beginning.


Fashionable Colors. Alongside the evergreen hues, the stage belongs to modernized pastel tones (sage, saffron, ochre, curry, denim) in matte, glossy, wavy finishes. These colors also feature geometric reliefs in Nordic-style (Elios, Marca Corona, Piemme, 41zero42, La Fabbrica), as well as effects that reinvent the finish of glazed lava or stone (Tonalite).

2. Oh my darling Travertine

One for all and all for one: the proliferation of travertine shows no sign of stopping. We deduce that the market desires it, and it prefers it with little characterization (more suitable for public spaces). Who knows, maybe travertine is the new concrete, and it will solidify its place as a universal architectural surface, with a natural look, delicately veined, and not flat.

The interpretation often leans towards a smooth surface and in the classic three “soft” colors with (inevitable) the two complementary versions cross cut / vein cut (it means: you’ll cut your veins because you see another travertine). 

The architectural vocation is confirmed by the all-inclusive ranges: from h270cm slabs to classic medium formats for floor and wall, from R11 surfaces for exteriors to 20mm outdoor thicknesses. It doesn’t stop there… mosaics, grooves, and rigatoni are added.

Here and there, you notice some versions that are more textured and sophisticated, with reeded reliefs, structures, and lapped-antiqued finishes (La Faenza – Cocoon mood, Coem Fioranese – Senzatempo), or with multi-format poses and mechanically aged edges (Cerdomus Tibur). An outsider, not travertine but on the same wavelength, is Piemme’s limestone in cross-cut and vein-cut versions, a diversification that attempts to break away from the herd.

3.Soft Rock: Lightweight Stone

According to the cyclical nature of trends, after the flood of resins and cements, the mainstream at Cersaie converges on stone, flowing into the Po river Valley in a thousand streams: soft stones with smooth surfaces, featuring desaturated veining resembling breccia marble or sandstone-like limestone. There are many micro-variations on this theme, even within the same booth but not overly diverse. The interpretations revisit both old and new classics of stoneware: pietra serena, brecce, limestone, desaturated ceppo di gré, but also Burlington (English stone), Burgundy stones, and pierre blue …turned gray. It has the air of a trend, perhaps the market craves a bit more sensuality and materiality in surfaces, while still maintaining a non-invasive essentiality.

4. Progressive rock

Setting aside the spotted or rocky stones for a moment, the focus shifts to elegant mottling of materials. Crystal by Coem features realistic shiny veins inlaid, while Gascoigne (also Coem) offers a rougher, more textured surface. G-tech by Gambini (ADI award winner) is strategically enhanced in a private dark room (black walls and ceiling) and illuminated with clever grazing lights (hallelujah). Del Conca presents a very beautiful and surprising sandblasted onyx (in slabs), opening up a whole new world compared to the glossy finish. For us, it’s a top choice (travertine, step aside).

5. Cotto and more

Cotto effect awakens from obscurity, becoming raw (terra cruda). In doing so, it finds freshness and original material expressions even in the blending with other materials. The tones are brighter, seeking the flavor of craftsmanship (Fireclay – GruppoCerdisaRicchetti), even in the reinterpretation with revisited wood (Trick). Some expand the exploration with coordinated patterns, pastel colors, and granulated graphics (Pastorelli). Sant’Agostino (Duo) combines terra cotta and concrete but above all, it boasts an extremely rich graphic dynamism with modules decorated by contemporary and far from banal marks.

6. Wood morning

A new dawn in the infinite returns of wood. Knots, shabby spots, and rusticity are out; the look is sober but accelerating towards realism, thanks to applications that synchronize graphics and reliefs. The finishes are refined with the velvety tactility of extra-matte surfaces. Oak reigns supreme. Extra-long planks, chevron and diamond formats, and a return of inlaid decorations.

7. Heavy metal

Feisty or peaceful, the 2023 metalgres tiles exhibit a distinctive and lived-in personality, emphasized by next-generation textural details. Cerdomus reproduces a floor born from former political billboards in sheet metal (ok also in light colors which are usually flops). Keope (Plate-metal glam) boldly displays a partially glossy sheet metal on the front wall. Flaviker introduces a hyper-realistic and perhaps provocative corrugated sheet metal.

8. Color: Must-Have Porcelain Stoneware

The color line in 60x60x120x multiples has been upgraded and is now a must-have category, rising among the “big five effects” of marble, stone, wood, and concrete. The texture is uniform but often slightly textured, resembling resin or concrete. The palette includes compact tones like powder blue, red (or coral), sage, light yellow, ochre, along with some “meter” shades such as gray, ivory, tortoiseshell, and beige. Cerdomus is at the starting line with linear decorations in the style of De Chirico, and others in hydro-jet seventies style (Concrete Art). Atlas with Boost Color, Gardenia with Pigments, Imola with ample space for floor-wall combinations featuring Retina.

9. Artificial Intelligence, Natural Creativity

Stepping out of the traditional paradigms of “imitative” ceramics and ceramic-ceramics, here and there we find various original and intriguing proposals, along with some provocatively eccentric ones. Alongside “natural” creativity, the search for new signs and inspirations also brings artificial intelligence into play: GCR takes inspiration from water, with fluid movements generated by A.I. in “Fluids” (in the form of a “river” at the center of the booth), and from air and clouds with “Pearls“. Optical effects in large format for Moirè by Fioranese – designed by A. Pasinelli – offering diverse visions depending on the point of view. Shifting gradient for the Iridea covering by Marca Corona (ADI award), delicate and pleasant. A similar covering in a secluded area, by Wow.

10. 20×20 Mixed-Designs

AAA Seeking Heir to Cement Tiles. The game of mixed 20×20 decorations is still functional and versatile, but we’ve grown tired of cement tiles, now overused. Efforts are being made to modernize the concept. Italian Landscape (Fioranese – design by 23Bassi) is a broad project in various modular and fresh geometries. CIR – Terre dei Miti, stylized signs in warm and textured tones. Twist by Elios in a monochromatic key, chic and contemporary.

Pro Level. There are many more reflections, insights, and ideas. If you’d like to have a chat for deeper discussion and exchange, feel free to contact us because we’d enjoy it too.