ORLANDO, FL -- The call for entries for this year's 2010 Ceramic Tiles of Italy design competition asked North American designers and architects to show off what they can do with Italian tiles. The A&D community responded effortlessly to the challenge, with a range of outstanding submissions that clearly point to a positive new year in design. The new decade also marked the competition's shift to a completely digital application, making the application process paperless and more accessible than ever. As a result, Confindustria Ceramica, the Association of Italian Ceramics, and the Italian Trade Commission received the highest number of top-quality submissions in the competition's 17-year history. The jury was so impressed by the entries that they awarded two prizes in each category: residential, commercial/hospitality and institutional.

In addition to reviewing the overall design and creative uses of tile, the jury also evaluated the sustainable aspects of each project. After an intensive selection process, the committee selected three top prizes and three honorable mentions.

First Prize Commercial Architecture & Design
Designer: Karim Rashid Inc.
Project: Prizeotel Hotel
Tile Manufacturers: Refin, DesignTaleStudio
Distributor: Werner Doellmann
Contractor: Weser-Wohnbau GmbH & Co. KG

Every inch of this project says "Karim Rashid." Called one of the most prolific designers of his generation, his ultra-modern, signature style is bold and bright with just the right mix of simplicity, elegance and functionality. The International Prizeotel, located in Bremen, Germany, was a project in what Rashid calls "designocrasy." "I do not design for wealthy people -- I design for everyone," he said. The budget hotel's rooms are priced at only 59 Euro a night. The design had to be very smart, maximize choices and use materials to have maximum impact. The lobby, which includes a bar, Internet station, buffet and outdoor terrace, features a custom sculpture and fiberglass bench. The ultra-modern entrance and lounge area are clad in porcelain tiles from Ceramiche Refin's Visual Collection. Done in custom color combinations, the floor tiles have a hypnotic, undulating pattern in silver and white, while the walls show off the motif in black and green. Wall tiles from the R+Evolution Collection, a line Rashid created for Refin's DesignTaleStudio, add a splash of color to the restrooms. Guestrooms are equally chic. The project is perfectly in line with the times. Since hygiene and cleanliness are of growing concern in the hospitality industry, tile was the natural choice.

Honorable Mention Commercial Architecture & Design
Designer: Yabu Pushelberg
Project: Hudson's Bay Company "The Room."
Tile Manufacturer: Impronta Ceramiche
Installation Products Manufacturer: Mapei

The Honorable Mention in the Commercial Architecture & Design category was awarded to the world-renowned interiors firm Yabu Pushelberg for its transformation of the iconic retail space Hudson's Bay Company "The Room." The mission was to unify the large space and turn it into a more personal environment. Luxury items, including hand-painted wall treatments, metal wire art and artistic decorative screens set the tone for this fashion-forward shop. Italian tile from Impronta Ceramiche's Evoluzione collection were laid in a herringbone pattern to complement the design and environment. Mapei installation materials were used.

First Prize Residential Architecture & Design
Architect: Pentagram Architects
Project: Montauk Residence
Tile Manufacturer: Bardelli
Distributor: Hastings Tile and Bath
Installation Products Manufacturer: Mapei
Contractor: Men at Work

James Biber, architectural partner of the multi-disciplinary design firm Pentagram Architects, referred to this winning residence as one whose connection to history and context gives it an instructive role in the portfolio of the work. The main house is a continuation of a movement started in the 1950s in California with the Case Study Houses. It was constructed to provide the couple -- the husband is a film producer and the wife is a writer -- with a niche of their own. A writer's studio was built on the roof of the main house and a home theater was designed for the basement. The writer's studio is reached via an outdoor staircase and is enclosed on three sides in glass. Framing the stunning ocean view is a horizontal window encased with steel. The floor was an integral part of the entire project. Floor tiles inspired by Gio Ponti's Hotel Parco Dei Principi in Sorrento, Italy, enliven the space and offer a contrast to the view. According to Biber, "Reproducing the floor tiles for the master suite and writing studio took almost a year to achieve. After many failed attempts using U.S. manufacturers, a sample was sent by Hastings Tile and Bath to Ceramica Bardelli in Italy. The first sample came back and was perfect. When asked how they were able to reproduce it so perfectly, Ceramica Bardelli replied, 'We made the original Gio Ponti tiles!'"

Honorable Mention Residential Architecture & Design
Architect: Baldinger Architectural Studio
Project: Tempe Urban Living
Tile Manufacturer: Ceramic D'Imola

Tempe Urban Living, a 15-unit urban infill project designed by Ilan Baldinger of Baldinger Architectural Studio was awarded Honorable Mention in the Residential Architecture & Design category for its extensive use of Italian tile. Ceramic D'Imola's Travertino was the ideal flooring solution for the project's minimalist design, and it helped to enhance the modern living experience. Baldinger Architectural Studio is now a two-time winner of the Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition. Last year, it received the Institutional Award for the Disability Empowerment Center.

First Prize Institutional Architecture & Design
Architect: Ark Restaurants/Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)
Project: ROBERT Restaurant at Museum of Arts & Design
Tile Manufacturer: Viva
Distributor: Artistic Tile
Contractor: Terry Higgins, Z-Project
Installation Products Manufacturer: Mapei

An example of collaboration at its best, this space at New York's Museum of Arts & Design partners an acclaimed New York City museum with a talented team of individuals, including Brian Saltzman of Ark Restaurants and David and Eve-Lynn Schoenstein Schefer of David Schefer Design. Johanna Grawunder was responsible for the lighting design, Philip Michael Wolfson added the communal and cocktail tables, and Vladimir Kagan designed the sofas and banquettes. The result is a restaurant full of iconic furnishings and modern surfaces, which are representative of the design-forward pieces found throughout the museum. Italian porcelain tile from Viva Ceramica's Iridium collection was installed throughout the dining room, hallway and bathrooms because of its rich color, luxurious texture and optical quality, which beautifully complement and unify the collection of contemporary lighting, art and furniture. Mapei products were used for the installation. Located in the heart of Columbus Circle, the restaurant is a popular dining spot for many. Therefore, the tiles' durable qualities and ease of maintenance made it an ideal flooring choice for such a heavily trafficked environment.

Honorable Mention Institutional Architecture & Design
: AR7 Architects
Project: UCCS Science and Engineering Building
Tile Manufacturer: Atlas Concorde

Rounding out the winning projects in this year's Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition is the UCCS Science and Engineering Building, a LEED Gold project, located in Colorado Springs, CO. The Denver-based firm AR7 Architects was awarded the Honorable Mention in the institutional category for its innovative use of tile from Atlas Concorde's Format series, throughout the main and secondary lobbies of the learning center as well as the public restrooms on the main floor.

For more information on Ceramic Tiles of Italy, visit the new gateway www.italiantiles.com -- with links to four key industry sites:www.italiatiles.com(the official Web site of Confindustria Ceramica),www.italytile.com(the official Web site for the Ceramic Tile Department of the Italian Trade Commission),www.s-tiles.it(a tool that tracks the Italian tile industry's commitment to sustainable design) andwww.tilecompetition.com(a digital guide to the Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition). Ceramic Tiles of Italy's "Project and Products" can now be found online at two new Web galleries:http://projects.italiatiles.comandhttp://products.italiatiles.com.