This year, the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition, an annual awards program sponsored by Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) and the Italian Trade Commission, attracted the most competitive pool of projects in the contest’s history. The submissions from prominent North American architects and designers in the Residential, Institutional, and Commercial categories were impressive both in their architectonic qualities and creative use of Italian ceramic tile. On the occasion of the competition’s 20th anniversary as well as the Anno della Cultura Italiana (“Year of Italian Culture”), the international jury decided to recognize more projects this year, honoring them with a special anniversary award. The Commercial category showed particular strength in the innovative and extensive use of tile, prompting the jury to select a grand prize winner as well as special mentions in Retail, Hospitality and Corporate categories. The winning projects speak to the A&D community’s commitment to using a material that is technically advanced, aesthetically pleasing, and manufactured with a focus on sustainability.

The recipients of this prestigious prize were officially announced on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 during the Ceramics of Italy International Press Conference at Coverings, held for the first time at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Each of the winning architects and designers were awarded $4,000 and a five-day trip to Bologna, Italy to attend Cersaie 2013—the premier international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings—in the fall. Ceramics of Italy also awarded $1,000 to be shared by the contractors and distributors involved in each winning project, who are key in bringing great design to fruition.


Firm: MRSA Architects & Planners

Project: Schaefer/Graf Residence

Location: Evanston, Illinois

Tile Manufacturers: Cerim, Floor Gres, and Lea Ceramiche

Contractor: Kraftex Floor Corporation

Distributors: Stone Source and Virginia Tile

Over a century old, the brick loft that began as a stable in the late 1890s—and ended up as an automotive shop that was abandoned in the late 1990s—was purchased by architect Mark Schaefer and fiancé Patti Graf in 2005. The couple spent the next five years rehabilitating the building. For the over 3,800-square-foot adaptive reuse project, the couple chose to pursue a modern, minimal Italian aesthetic that referenced fast cars and sleek motorcycles throughout. The three levels of living space are covered with neutral floor tiles from Cerim and Floor Gres that blend beautifully with both the old and the new. The muted color palette of the home is punctuated with colorful baths on the third floor featuring tiles from Lea Ceramiche.


Firm: DEN Architecture

Project: Bilezikjian Residence

Location: Miami Beach, Florida

Tile Manufacturers: Brix, Imola Ceramica, and La Faenza


Distributors: Ceramica Esparza, Five Star Surfaces, and Imola Tile

For this remodeling project, DEN Architecture demolished and rebuilt every surface with a modern, minimalist approach. An AIA award-winning project, the oceanfront apartment draws inspiration from its surroundings with its choice of porcelain tiles: in every space, an effort was made to replicate the colors, textures, and patterns of the Atlantic ocean’s blue waters and surrounding beaches. Wall and floor tiles from Imola Ceramica in white, blue, and aquamarine are used in a staggered pattern in the guest bathroom, recalling Miami Beach’s pristine environment. Meanwhile, porcelain wall tiles with an irregular cracked pattern from Brix’s “DRY” series were specified for the backsplash in the master bathroom, which references the texture left on sand when the tide recedes. Neutral wood-look porcelain floor tiles from LaFaenza are used throughout the apartment.


Firm: Anna Marie Fanelli

Project: Alpine Estate

Location: Alpine, New Jersey

Tile Manufacturers: Casa Dolce Casa, Ceramiche Sadon, Imola Ceramica, Sant’Agostino, Unicom Starker

Contractor: Mancera Tile

Distributor: Floor and Décor

Anna Marie Fanelli, co-owner and designer at Floor & Décor, made Italian tile the aesthetic focus of the $30 million Alpine Estate. Selecting Italian tiles for their ability to combine technological advancement, elegance, and functionality—as well as their eco-friendly and maintenance-free characteristics—Fanelli designed tile couture spaces in the family room, kitchen, solarium, and all of the bathrooms on the property. Collections from Casa Dolce Casa, Ceramica Imola, Ceramiche Sadon, Sant’Agostino, and Unicom Starker that mimic natural materials like marble add unprecedented refinement and luxury to the estate. The design is the epitome of elegance and material couture.