Each year, Tile of Spain USA invites a group of design professionals and journalists to be a part of its “Passport to Creativity” tour. The week-long excursion deep dives into the world of Spanish tile, as well as allowing participants to experience the sights, tastes and culture of Spain. For the 2024 edition, participants arrived in Valencia, Spain on February 25th – launching an incredible and intense schedule that included an architectural tour of the city; tile factory and showroom tours; and two days at Cevisama, the international ceramic and bathroom furnishings exhibition held annually in Valencia.

Diversity was a common thread woven throughout the tour. The group of design professionals specialized in everything from upscale residential homes to commercial and hospitality projects to public transportation. Journalists on the trip covered a range of design aspects – from architectural projects and products to hospitality design and travel to tile and installation. The factories that were visited each represented various types of tile production – from oversized porcelain panels and commercial tile to small decorative tile to high-end innovative tile products.

“This year’s ‘Passport to Creativity’ tour was a very special edition for Tile of Spain USA,” said Cat Hoy, senior account executive with Frank Advertising, the public relations and marketing firm representing Tile of Spain USA. “We had quite a diverse group of guests on the trip, whose broad experience levels and specialties within the industry made for a very exciting and engaging week indulging in Spanish ceramics.” 

Hoy explained time was spent on architectural and cultural tours in Valencia, where the group was provided with a comprehensive background on Spanish design, as well as the impact the styles from this region have, not only within the local tile sector but the global design industry. “The ‘Passport to Creativity’ tour was a truly memorable experience -- allowing me to experience the Spanish tile and ceramic industry from various perspectives,” said Douglas DeBoer, founder/CEO of Rebel Design+Group, an award-winning restaurant and hospitality design firm with offices worldwide. “Touring the show and factories with fellow design peers and the press has been especially enlightening as it allows better understanding of their approaches in our industry.”

Walking through each production facility, it was evident those on the tour valued the experience and were excited to witness how the various tile products are manufactured. “From a ceramics standpoint, we were fully engrossed in Spanish tiles at every level,” said Hoy. “Attendees experienced the manufacturing process of large-format tiles from start to finish at the Grespania factory and witnessed the craftsmanship of hand-painted tiles at Cevica’s lab.”

DeBoer agreed. “I appreciated the direct in-person introductions to both new and legacy tile companies, as well as being able to see the production first-hand,” he said. “From oversized large-format tile to hand-painted ceramics, the factory tours provided detailed insight of the manufacturing processes that varies so much by product and company.”

Tile of Spain’s technical consultant, Ryan Fasan, did a fantastic job of explaining each process and answering any questions. “It’s my favorite thing to do every year,” said Fasan. “It brings so many creative minds together.”

While at Cevisama, the group visited numerous exhibitor booths, which were lavishly adorned with all types of tile lines, including large-formats, mosaics, multi-textured surfaces, geometric patterns and much more. Each display was visually stimulating and sparked conversation among group members. 

Shades of blue and green remain popular, but rather than bright jewel tones, the colors appear softer and more muted. Also trending were finishes with a sheen, brick formats, travertine-look tile and three-dimensional surfaces, to name a few.  

Cevisama was an amazing event which touted the latest trends in tile and ceramics, including cutting-edge materials and finishes; more three-dimensional and textural tiles; softer, muted colors drawn from nature; and the expansion of wood- and natural stone-look tiles,” said DeBoer. “It was a fun and educational trip, and having Ryan, our tile aficionado, lead the tours made it particularly informative. I was honored to be included in the ‘Passport to Creativity’ tour, and I am looking forward to future opportunities to participate again with these amazing people.” 

Hoy also noted how everyone enjoyed sharing their thoughts and favorite looks. “For me, it’s hard to pick one, but I particularly loved the hyper-realistic natural graphics of the wood and stone-inspired collections,” she said. “I truly hope to transport the energy and willingness to learn from this year’s tour into future editions of ‘Passport to Creativity’!”