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In the last weeks each one of us has been forced to change its habits and adapt to new living spaces and rhythms: we were used to frenetic, always in motion days, then we found ourselves stuck at home and now finally we will be allowed to go out and get back to normal.
These unpredicted circumstances have taught us the importance of being responsible, of respecting social distance rules and above all of taking always into account the aspects of hygiene, which we were not used to consider but now turned to be essential for our safety and ease.
In the coming months, thanks to the new smart and flexible way of working, a minority of us will have the chance to choose where to work, either in the peace and quiet of their own home or in co-working spaces, but all of us will certainly soon or after get back to normal life and to hang out to public places: we will go back to offices, shops, public transports, restaurants, clubs, cinema and all other spaces conceived to be shared with colleagues, commuters and other strangers. The coming of Covid19 is changing and will change the way we conceive and live the daily spaces, both home and public environments.
It doesn’t matter where we spend our time, at home or in social settings, today more than ever our daily places have to ensure our psycho-physical wellbeing, and make us feel safe and at ease, that is being healthy, safe and comfortable ambiances. Right now, the most important factor in creating a welcoming environment and making us relax undoubtedly is certainly its healthiness!
Since it is not possible, or even conceivable, to continuously carry out deep cleaning or live with gloves, a sponge and disinfectant always in your pocket, in order to guarantee maximum hygiene and safety it is essential to already be considering the “health” aspect in the design stage of interiors, by choosing furnishings with simple lines easy to dust and materials that are easy to clean, resistant to specify cleaning and sanitising treatments and that reduce in itself the proliferation of bacteria and pathogens. The surfaces that we come into contact with definitely play an important role, above all floor tiles, that must be anti-septic, not porous then non-absorbent, hypoallergenic and inert.
Leaving aside for a second the current Covid19 emergency, a recent study by the University of Colorado revealed that our homes often host many small, unsuspected hidden guests: the genetic analysis of dust present in 1,200 US apartments in fact showed that, on average, 9,000 species of different microbes live in American private homes, many of which are harmless, but nevertheless are still not appreciated in the spaces where we spend our time.
The installation of porous materials or materials where it is easy for dust and dirt to hide, such as carpet, widespread overseas, can only aggravate this already worrying scenario. The interior design of houses and offices and the choice of different surfaces is therefore the first decisive step, in protecting our health and avoiding unnecessary worry.
Among all the existing materials, ceramic is definitely one of the best solutions to create safe, hygienic spaces where we can also spend a lot of time with maximum peace of mind. Ceramic is actually a material with natural origins, and does not contain plastic, asbestos, formaldehyde, radon or other harmful substances. Thanks to the firing process at over 1,200°C, capable of eliminating all biological residues and volatile organic compounds, the notorious VOCs, porcelain tiles are in addition completely non-toxic and inert, thus not releasing harmful or toxic substances, even in the event of fire.
Unlike other porous, absorbent materials, such as natural wood, tiles have a compact surface, that does not retain dust, bacteria or dust mites, so they are therefore hypoallergenic and odourless, perfect also for children and sensitive people.
Ceramic floor and wall tiles are in addition perfect for environments where there is a constant water presence, such as residential bathrooms, swimming pools or hotel spas, because they are impermeable to liquids, resistant to moulds, fungi and bacteria, and have excellent anti-slip performance. Porcelain stoneware can stand also all the cleaning, sanitising and disinfectants products increasingly required and easily available on the market (for a better insights on the differences we invite you to see this useful article by Fila).
These treatments, used in the right posology regularly, could turn to be too aggressive for other materials: the superior hygienic features of ceramics paired with the active cleaning power of these products guarantee the maximum level of safety and hygiene, and allow us to carry our cleaning and sanitising operations over time and without worries.
Ceramic is therefore able to make the environment safe from every point of view, wherever it is installed! Choosing large sizes over smaller ones and reducing the joint space between tiles, it’s possible to further minimize the areas where dust and dirt may accumulate over time, making this way the cleaning process easier.
Safe and hygienic, ceramic tiles are besides recommended, for all environments where totally sterile conditions are required, such as in hospitals and medical centres: by hindering the spread of bacteria and by being resistant to chemicals and acids, porcelain tiles represent the ideal solution for guaranteeing sterile spaces and allowing for frequent washing and sanitising treatments, even with very aggressive chemical detergents.
It is not by chance that the San Paolo Hospital in Milan chose porcelain tiles and our Arkistone and Lagom collections, which are resistant and flawless from both an aesthetic and hygienic point of view, for the expansion project of their ER Department.
If hygiene is the most important aspect in public health places, we must not forget that the healthiness of the rooms is a fundamental aspect of any space, including commercial ones or those destined to host a community of people, such as schools, museums, offices and shops.
To make the BeOpen Elementary School safe and welcoming, for example, the Opalka Design studio chose Marca Corona porcelain tiles: who would have thought that the Terra decorated cementine tiles that are so cheerful and elegant, were actually the first and most effective ally for the safety of young guests?
And what about the most important setting for all of us: our home? Irrespective of the organisation of our day and how much time we spend out at work, our own four walls remain the most loved and lived in space!
The choice of surfaces to install in our home is certainly the one that is closest to our heart, so the most difficult. If safety, hygiene and resistance are once more essential factors, other aspects come into play when we are designing our personal spaces, those of practicality and aesthetic-functional versatility. Regardless of its size, every house has different rooms, from the kitchen to the bathroom, from the bedroom to the living room, each one dedicated to different activities and subject to different stresses.
It is essential to choose furnishings and materials suitable for the specific intended use that are safe and practical to clean and manage over time, since none of us have the time (nor inclination) to carry out a daily deep clean. To minimise the proliferation of bacteria and the need for intervention, it is advisable to install ceramic floor and wall tiles in your own home, i.e. antiseptic, hypoallergenic, non-absorbent and resistant to stains, acids and moulds.
Among other things, porcelain tile surfaces also ensure excellent thermal conductivity and aesthetic versatility, thus allowing you to optimise the energy performance of the building and to customise your own domestic environments.
Ceramic also perfectly responds to new, increasingly challenging requests in the field of residential renovation: new generations and most of us in the last few weeks realised that home has to be reconsidered and reinvented as a multifunctional space, where to carry out various activities at different times of the day. The room used as an office by day, for example, could be transformed into a hobby room in the evening or even have to host a small equipped gym.
This necessitates the planning of hybrid spaces and the selection of versatile materials from both an aesthetic and technical point of view: if each room in the house needs to respond to multiple needs at the same time, it would be a serious mistake to choose materials that need constant attention, specific products or complex cleaning and maintenance procedures. For once, why not make life easier by choosing practical, safe surfaces, such as ceramic?
Regardless of where and how we spend our time, it is essential that all spaces we live day-to-day help us to guarantee our health and our psycho-physical wellbeing!