Humberto: A Time Like This Is A Time For Innovation

23 Jun 2020/CTW


Each year, ICC has a team sent to Italy to do the research about the trends of tiles before CERSAIE starts. After the most important exhibition of the ceramic industry closes, they usually release the report analyzing the trends.

But due to the pandemic, CERSAIE has been postponed to November. Will ICC still have plans to visit Italy and release the report? What will the trends of tiles be in the second half of 2020 and the next year? Let's find out more with Mr. Humberto.

Click on the Video to watch the interview.

Does ICC still have plans to go to CERSAIE this year?


We all hope that the fair will happen. But we all believe that it won’t. Even if it does happen, I don’t think many people will go. It’s very difficult to travel. I can not even get out of China right now. I don’t think things are going to change in just a couple of months. Even if you could travel, the trip will not be easy. You don’t know if there is going to be tickets, how expensive they would be, how safe it would be. We don’t know. Even if the fair is held, the first priority will be safety. Would somebody from the company go? Maybe. We have been doing it for many years and I am sure somebody will go. But me, being in China, I am not sure. I wish I could go.


Humberto & ICC Team Attending the 2019 CERSAIE

What do you think will change in this year's CERSAIE?


I would be surprised if CERSAIE happens in November. But if it happens, I think there will be a significant drop in attendance. If it happens, it is because it is something they (the Italians) really depend on. I think there will be only like 60% or 70% of the people that attended last year. Maybe the exhibitors will be less, too. They (the organizer) may close some of the pavilions due to less exhibitors. But you know some of the exhibitors have long-term contracts, but still they may not use it because they do not want to have the expenses. It is very sad that things have changed a lot. We all hope for the best but I doubt it will happen.

Do you have any ideas about how to do the research of trends this year for all the uncertainties due to the pandemic? 


Yes, I do. One of the things that have changed this year with the outbreak of the pandemic is how you communicate. When you are not able to travel, you will look for ways to communicate effectively online. In the last 10 days we had meetings almost every day, with Italian and Spanish companies, friends, suppliers of finished products, raw materials as well as designers. 40 or 50 people were connected at the same time. They made presentations which sometimes talked about the colour trends, sometimes the product trends, finishes, texture and different topics. It was incredible because it was almost as good as travelling there. For example, a design company prerecorded their showroom. They made the presentation by going through the showroom and explaining everything with a video. It was almost as good as being there. I had about 10 or 12 meetings in the past couple of weeks. They gave me the impression that I had been to Italy already like 5 times. There was a lot of information every day from one company to another. The ways companies see the trends are slightly different from each other. So, I take all the information and start making my own conclusions.


Humberto Discussing with People in the CERSAIE

When are you going to release the trends?


The best time to release the trends is after the CERSAIE because that is when you physically see the products and confirm your predictions. Are we going to the fair this year? We don’t know. And that is irrelevant, whether there will be fair or not, we will have the trends. If we can not go and there is a fair , I am sure we will have people to make this CERSAIE report to us and we will complete the trends report that we already have. So, yes, we still have plan to release the trends.

The theme of this year’s CERSAIE is about “the healthiness of ceramics”. Do you think healthy tiles will be trendy for the rest of this year?


I think we have to pay attention to it. Because it is a part of our living right now. We have customers already asking for anti-bacterial tiles, or tiles that are easier to clean or with a simpler decoration. There are lots of trends that are emerging because of COVID-19, including safety and healthiness.


Humberto in 2019's CERSAIE

The Ceramics of Italy recently released six trends of the tiles, some of which agree with what ICC released last October. What's your comment about it?


When I saw the report of Ceramics of Italy, I was glad to see that we are doing it right. There are many people trying to interprete the trends. We have seen 6 or 7 presentations. They were all different. But at the end, we found that they were similar in many ways. And that is why you need to be careful in making the interpretation. All those people are talking about biophilia, comfort, hygienic tiles, marbles and so on. More than likely those things will become the most important trends in ceramic tiles. However, most of them are too conceptual. How do you put those concepts into a finished product? That is the difficult part. In these years, I keep putting all those difficult things in black and white so everybody can understand. As a company, one of the most important things I do as the general manager of ICC is to interprete the trend better than anyone else. Because if we do so, it will give us a better chance to be successful here in China or anywhere else. 


Marble Product

Could you reveal some to our readers what the trends will be in the second half of 2020 and the 2021’s market?


I think anything that people can associate with the word “clean” will be popular. Usually,  white is considered as a clean colour, so I believe white will continue to be among the top colours, because anything dirty will pop up easily on the white colour. So I think white is gonna be a popular colour as it always has been, and more than before. And the large size is another trend as China is now building dozens of related production lines.

I have always believed that the most important trend ever will be innovation and making the products better looking, more natural looking and feeling, for example, new textures and finishes, amazing new color proposals and making the best use of the existing technology. So I think blue marbles, rare marbles, the alternative uses of slabs, metals and chic terrazzos are among the important product trends.


Metal Product


Terrazzo Product

Can you explain why blue becomes the hit color in 2020 and will it be popular in China too?


Blue has always been a popular colour in the past few months. Our front desk of the second floor is blue. When you see for the first time the color blue in tile you won’t think it will become popular. But months or years later it becomes popular everywhere including China. It is a calming and relaxing colour which can reduce stress. However, blue marble or granite is extremely expensive. Fortunately we can reproduce the colour with the help of digital technology nowadays. It (blue ceramic tile) is obviously a less expensive option for consumers.


Blue Product

In your opinion, how well do these trends fit the current Chinese market?


I think some of the trends may apply to the Chinese domestic market well, some not much. So what you have to keep in mind is the knowledge of the trends and how to adapt them to your own brand's particular style.


Wood Product

After the interview, Mr. Humberto gave us a presentation about the post-pandemic change of the ceramic tile trends. He shared with us an example regarding to the trends and the popularity of a product.

"When we launched the first cement product in the Chinese market, all people said it wouldn't sell in China. And then I took the product and put it in the entrance of the showroom on purpose because I knew we were going to have like 20 designers in the showroom. Finally it became our No.1 ceramic product for the next 5 years."

Humberto said, sometimes things do not work out the way we expected just because people are not ready for them yet. At that time, we cannot say we failed, we say we probably did it way too soon.

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This is the 393th  issue. 



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