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NeoCon celebrates 50 years of tomorrow’s design

Chicago—Registration is now open for the 50th edition of NeoCon, the world’s leading platform and most important event of the year for the commercial design industry. NeoCon 50 will take place June 11-13 at The Mart in Chicago.

Since its launch in 1969, the show has served as a launching pad for iconic brands and products in the commercial design world. Its conference program is at the forefront of thought leadership, delivering distinguished speakers, ideas and innovations that are shaping the global landscape of workplace, healthcare, hospitality, government, education, retail and more. This year’s marquee presentations will feature a series of headliners addressing the future of design and the industry. Special events will include inspiring retrospectives and a festive NeoCon 50 party Tuesday evening.

NeoCon partnered with an award-winning creative agency, Maiarelli Studio, to develop a new campaign and an updated logo that aligns with NeoCon’s design expertise and position as a market leader. It has also launched the NeoCon blog, which will include exclusive one-on-one conversations with industry notables as well as history about the people, products and parties that made up the first 49 years of NeoCon.
The show will also feature 500 companies including Herman Miller, Knoll, OFS Brands, Shaw, and Steelcase as well as new showrooms from Scandinavian Spaces and NappaTile. New exhibiting companies on the seventh-floor exhibit hall will feature a number of international companies including Narbutas Furniture Company, DeVorm, Polarmoss USA, Luceplan USA and Lovair.

Four marquee presentations include panels, talks and keynotes and will explore topics such as the integration of technology and design, as well as the struggles and victories of women in the industry

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Al's column: Design—Creating desirable living spaces

January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15

By Bea Pila

 

The renowned American architect and interior designer Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be joined in spiritual union.”

As an interior designer, I am often asked, “What is your style?” I cringe at the question. The word design conjures the notion of a look or aesthetic, but for me it is all about emotion.

Growing up, my mother piqued my interest in interior design. What we lacked in money she made up with her impeccable taste. I thought we lived in a beautiful home; it was warm and inviting, and it represented who we were. When I went to other homes, I didn’t compare the contents. Instead, I compared them to my own in how I felt within. By age 15, I had single-handedly redecorated my bedroom and was hooked on interior design. It was my calling.

My first professional years in the industry were spent in firm settings. We produced beautiful work, but something felt off for me. Interior design pushed the ideals of luxury and exclusivity. Sure, I could commission the most lavish furniture piece or design a house akin to a perfect showroom, but at the end of the day do any of these things make anyone feel good, let alone feel anything at all?

I realized my role as creator isn’t about beauty alone. My original spark for interior design reaffirmed its influence on our feelings and behavior. This emotional component is what should be guiding our decisions, not the hottest trends. The rediscovery transformed my entire practice. I refined my process from beginning to end with my clients, looking to them as my source of design inspiration. It’s a journey so spiritual and powerful that I’ve come to call it “design enlightenment.”

This phenomenon may be a new term, but its philosophies stem way back. Mies Van de Roche, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Louis Sullivan—these are the masters of influencing behavior through architecture. Their work honors that we as humans crave connection with ourselves, with each other and with nature. Even with all the technology and distractions of today, I believe we innately still crave these connections. We just have to open our hearts and rooms to remind us of this.

Design enlightenment is rooted in authenticity. It is about discovering yourself, the lifestyle you truly desire for yourself and listening to these desires when designing your interiors.

Your discoveries may defy conventional ideas of how a space should be used—that is OK. The lifestyle of today has evolved so dramatically, yet we still cling to past notions of how a room should be designated.

Design enlightenment grants permission to free yourself of these notions. No matter how beautiful it may appear, an abandoned room has no purpose. I always say that these days the living room has become the least lived in, and the dining room the least dined in because we design them in the traditional way that we think these rooms should look.

Take back your spaces, and configure them in a way that inspires and promotes use of the space.

 

 

 

Bea Pila is an interior and furniture designer and author. She will be speaking more about authenticity and wellness in design at The International Surface Event 2018 in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 30. For more information, visit intlsurfaceevent.com.

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Shannon Specialty Floors unveils new visual floor designer

Milwaukee, Wis.—Shannon Specialty Floors has launched its new interactive online visual floor designer. Available on Shannon Specialty Floors’ website, the new design tool allows users to select from 12 commercial room scene options and integrate with any of the company’s 18 collections of commercial flooring solutions.

Visitors to the site can experiment with different color combinations and patterns of the company’s resilient sheet, luxury vinyl tile and plank, and PVC free products. Visitors can also choose to upload their own room scene to visualize the products in at no additional cost.

“Being able to actually see our product offerings in different spaces is an immaculate design tool,” said Jeff Collum, president, Shannon Specialty Floors. “We hope designers, architects and contractors alike enjoy the design tool as both professional research and personal enjoyment.”

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Spotlight: Karndean Designflooring makes it easier to sell more

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 1.31.47 PMFor retailers navigating the sea of LVT products, diversity is the key to success, experts say. This differentiation can be found in product design and development as well as experiences with a particular manufacturer. Karndean Designflooring aims to provide retailers with opportunities to increase their business via exclusive designs, top-notch customer service and creative marketing materials.

“At Karndean, we see flooring differently,” said Emil Mellow, director of public relations and communications. “We seek out expressive and intriguing forms in the natural world to influence our unique floor designs and combine these original features with cutting-edge design.”

Karndean Designflooring prides itself on its components-based flooring system, which was created to give consumers total control over the look and feel of their floors. Using this system, homeowners can choose the pattern of their floor with the option to blend products together or incorporate certain designs as inlays.

“Designflooring is a protected way for retailers to grow their business and prevents Karndean dealers from being out-shopped by competitors down the street,” Mellow explained. “As luxury vinyl specialists, we offer more than 200 products featuring internally developed designs and produce premium luxury vinyl across glue down, loose lay and rigid core formats so there is a Karndean-quality floor to fit any installation scenario.”

Retailers like Brenda Barber, president, Barbers Floors & More, Saint Johns, Mich., gets the concept. “Karndean outsells everything in our store—even carpet, which has always taken the lead. The close ratio for Karndean is 100% with people coming back at a later date for additional rooms. It is an easy sell for young, active families with children and pets; older couples want it because it takes the place of hardwood without the expense. I believe in it so much that [several of my family members] have Karndean and love it.”

Dealers say Karndean’s in-house designs coupled with selective distribution help the manufacturer provide its retailer partners with an edge over other flooring stores. As John Wright, vice president, Wright Furniture & Flooring, Hannibal, Mo., puts it: “Karndean’s vast selection in products, colors and different installation options—as well as the fact that its products are hassle free with no claims—make it easier to do business.”

Selling tools
To help retailers sell its products, Karndean provides dealers with various merchandising vehicles and marketing materials. This includes retail displays that showcase products on large-format boards to demonstrate detailed designs and color variation within the individual pieces, as well as ways to enhance a layout by incorporating design strips and inlays.

“Our platinum-level dealers are also equipped with our design table, which not only houses full-size product samples but allows designers and homeowners the opportunity to lay products on top of the table to experiment with different design options,” Mellow explained. “Retailers can also expect to frequently see their dedicated sales representative to provide the latest product knowledge and best practices.”

In addition to design-focused products and marketing materials, Karndean retailers can take advantage of qualified leads driven to their store through the “Find A Retailer” (FAR) tool found on the manufacturer’s website. Consumers can find their nearest Karndean Designflooring retailer, ranked by tier, by entering in a city, state or zip code, and filling out a form to have the retailer get in touch.

Another advantage to partnering with Karndean Designflooring is the company’s customer service team, which is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. According to the company, it’s not uncommon for Karndean’s retailers and customer service representatives to be on a first-name basis.

For Richard Akel, manager, Akel’s Carpet One, Little Rock, Ark., Karndean’s customer service and employees help make the difference. “[As a corporation] Karndean has great people. They take your calls and answer your questions and are on top of any requests instantly.”

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NeoCon East: Vendors showcase broad range of products, designs

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.33.49 AMPhiladelphia—With roughly 5,000 attendees and more than 150 exhibitors, NeoCon East provided the commercial interiors community another opportunity to engage on the East Coast during the fall season. The two-day show, which took place here at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Nov. 15–16, featured four keynote speeches, more than 25 CEUs and countless opportunities for attendees to network and learn about the latest commercial products.

“Exhibiting companies gained valuable direct contact with key architects, designers and major corporate and government end users, while attending professionals gained insight and access to the latest ideas and innovations in the industry,” said Julie Kohl, vice president, exhibitor sales, NeoCon Shows. “Many exhibitors have already reported strong project leads and business opportunities as a result of the 2017 edition.”

Of the 150 exhibitors, a handful were flooring manufacturers touting their latest and greatest products of 2017. Among them: Altro, Atlas Carpet Mills, Ava by Novalis, Mannington, Patcraft, Shaw Contract and Tarkett. Product introductions ran the gamut from hard to soft surfaces.

For Richard Burn, floors product manager, Altro, NeoCon East provides an important opportunity to show product. “It’s good to be at this show because we get to see customers we do business with and show them the new products.”

Altro highlighted some of its more vibrant products with new concrete, linen, salt and pepper designs. “The market has been very receptive to them,” Burn said. “We’ve had quite a busy year with our LVT and sheet products. We’ve also launched new wood products and expanded our ranges to offer acoustic variances.”

NeoCon East provided Atlas Carpet Mills the opportunity to show off new products and tease new collections currently under development. “We have the Epic collection coming out at the end of this month,” said Sheila Berg, marketing manager. “And our latest collection, Connections, is on the floor today. Our product line now includes broadloom, carpet tile squares, carpet tile planks and area rugs.”

But product is not the only new “news” at Atlas. “We freshened up our logo with a new color and our website has a new look,” Berg added.

Ava by Novalis highlighted its latest introductions, SMPL and SPRK, which are phthalate free and 100% recyclable. SMPL is a high-performance core (HPC) floating floor that has a cork underlayment for improved acoustic performance. SPRK is offered in 38 colorways, has a 20 mil wear layer, 2.5mm overall thickness in an 18 x 18 format. SPRK boasts an antimicrobial coating, increased scratch and scuff resistance and excellent stain and fade resistance. In addition, it is easy to maintain and has a 10-year commercial and lifetime residential warranty.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.33.55 AMMannington focused on commercial intros reflecting soft, sophisticated color palettes with products that are useable in multiple applications. Highlights included: the Portland collection—a 12 x 48 carpet plank product—and its Origami collection as well as new visuals from its Amtico line. “All of the products we’re here today are those we showed at NeoCon in June,” said Heather Kane, commercial product design supervisor. “The focus here was toward a corporate marketplace, more broad-based.”

Patcraft’s booth showcased both hard and soft surface products. Its carpet offerings included collections such as Nocturnal, Backlit and Color Filter, which can be used together or separate to create depth, while included Subtractive Layers, a vinyl flooring line, highlighted the hard surface offerings.

“Subtractive Layers is made from our designer Kelly Stewart, who actually took a painting, blended the colors and used a comb to create texture,” Jeff West, vice president of marketing and product development, explained. “Most people want to feel it because it has all of this texture. It is a 5mm thickness—the same as carpet tile—so you can install it right next to carpet tile without having to use a transition strip.”

Shaw Contract took the wraps off Emergence and Off the Grid. The former—which was illustrated using pixelated rose patterns accompanied by larger rose-patterned images—represents a play on traditional patterns, while Off the Grid was inspired by nature and relaxation. To highlight the product, Shaw Contract’s booth included photographs of mountains, caves and rock formations.

On the soft surface side, Tarkett showcased Color Knit, a new multi-color soft surface, as well as its Powerbond line. “Powerbond performs and lasts,” said Noelle Omer, public relations and social media manager, Tarkett North America. “It is part of our sustainability story in that it helps with indoor air quality and is recyclable.”

For hard surfaces, Tarkett put the spotlight on Transcend, its new loose lay product, as well as its digital print LVT. “Our digital print LVT is what everyone is coming in to touch,” Omer explained. “We introduced digital print last year at NeoCon. With More than Wood we’re showing all that you can do with wood looks. It’s all made in the States and made to order.”

No NeoCon East for 2018
Show officials announced the cancellation of NeoCon East 2018. Instead, the event will resume in 2019. “The team is currently working with key stakeholders and partners to assess and design a post-NeoCon/fall season show that continues to provide a platform to connect the industry while addressing its most current and relevant topics and opportunities,” Kohl said. “New event details including dates and location will be available in the coming months.”

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Ceramic: State of the industry—Technology, design help drive tile consumption

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

By K.J. Quinn

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.12.39 AMSlow but steady. That’s how industry experts describe the current state of the ceramic tile business. Still in recovery mode several years after the Great Recession, the industry continues taking gradual steps forward with economic indicators pointing in the right direction and significant investments being made to improve styling and performance.

When you look at the numbers, ceramic is among the healthiest of all flooring categories. Last year, tile rang up $2.8 billion in sales at the first point of distribution while volume spiked nearly 6% to 2.31 billion units, marking the seventh consecutive year of growth, according to FCNews research. “The U.S. continues to trail most of the world on per capita sales of tile,” noted Raj Shah, president, MSI. “We believe that the U.S. consumption will grow at a disproportionate rate.”

The stateside market remains fertile ground for foreign tile makers, as the amount of ceramic sold is significantly less than other parts of the world. “The import market in general has grown, but the growth percentage for Spain was much bigger,” said Rocamador Rubio, director, Tile of Spain USA. The organization reports U.S. ceramic imports from Spain jumped 19.5% in value and a 22.9% in volume during the first eight months this year.

Traditional metrics used to gauge the state of ceramic—the strength of the U.S. economy, new housing market, consumer confidence, lending and unemployment rates, for example—are all positive. Commercial activity was up in most sectors, with growth seen in hospitality, healthcare, education and corporate spaces, according to published reports. “Ceramic tile is the second fastest growing hard surface category behind resilient in terms of percentage growth,” noted Vance Hunsucker, national sales manager, tile and stone, Shaw Floors. “The increase in U.S. residential ceramic tile sales is driven by consumer demand for higher-end products and a greater breadth of visuals and formats.”

Experts say tile as a percentage of total flooring in single-family new homes continues to rise as it finds more applications in spaces such as patios, garages and basements. Meanwhile, new single-family homes are larger and more expensive, industry observers say. “As a result, these homes often use greater quantities of ceramic tile because it offers the style and luxury homeowners crave without the maintenance and performance concerns found in other materials,” said Gianni Mattioli, executive vice president, product and marketing, Dal-Tile.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.12.50 AMAnother factor impacting ceramic consumption is the fact the category is available in more retail channels than ever before and at price points that can meet nearly every budget. “Mass retailers are significantly investing in the product line, which is increasing awareness,” MSI’s Shah observed. “The likes of Pinterest, Houzz, etc., are providing inspiration to home owners at almost no cost.”

There are unforeseen situations—such as the recent hurricanes in the South and fires in Northern California—impacting flooring choices in home improvement projects as well as new residential construction. “The recent storms are making people rethink soft surfaces and the value of having tile floors,” Shah explained. “We are hearing examples where insurance companies are demanding tile floors be installed as replacements.”

Issues affecting growth
While industry sales and consumption projections vary widely (mainly because U.S. ceramic distribution is so fragmented, experts say), the general consensus is tile is on pace to increase 4% to 8% this year. “We have seen positive growth in the U.S. residential ceramic tile business, something we anticipate to continue throughout the remainder of 2017,” Dal-Tile’s Mattioli said.

Masking the positive gains are numerous macroeconomic issues, experts note. One is new home construction, a sector lagging behind growth expectations. Privately owned housing starts in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of nearly 1.13 million, a 6.1% increase over September 2016, according to the Census Bureau. “Considering the growth of residential construction, it would be a good assumption to say that residential ceramic tile sales are increasing accordingly,” Tile of Spain’s Rubio said.

The average per-square-foot tile price increased from $0.95 to $1.20 in the last decade, FCNews research shows. While this contributed to increasing sales, it also means ceramic is among the priciest floor coverings. “Other products with good visuals such as LVT have also entered the market,” noted Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville. “The dilution of hard surface offerings at a wide range of price points also impacts ceramic industry’s position.”

The lack of qualified installers remains a major issue, as flooring retailers and contractors are challenged to find good help when they need it. “As ceramic tile sales continue to increase, the market demand for experienced installers will likely cause an increase of skilled laborers, as retailers and independent contractors look to find ways to match supply with demand,” Shaw’s Hunsucker explained.

The labor shortage could also stunt ceramic growth, as this lingering issue finally comes to bear. “This is leading to increased labor prices and lower quality of work,” said Luca Setti, chief sales and marketing officer, Florida Tile. “This affects choices being made on what product to spec and buy.”

Investments pay off
Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.12.56 AMSuppliers continue investing in manufacturing to bolster production efficiency and speed to market, plus create new value-added products. “Obviously, much more domestic production has come online over the last year and in the upcoming 12 to 18 months,” noted David Koenig, vice president and general manager, Crossville Studios, the tile maker’s distribution division.

Domestic production has been a big story in ceramic the past few years, as several companies expanded production or broke ground on new plants. For example, Crossville, which produced the first domestically made porcelain tile in 1986, expanded its plant and firing capacity last year. “We continue to keep up with fashion and the value proposition of porcelain tile exceeding those of other materials,” Waldrep stated.

The plethora of new styles offers even more incentive for homeowners and specifiers to choose ceramic for more than just showers and backsplashes. For instance, gauged porcelain slabs and panels offer exciting opportunities in areas where tile has never been a player, such as veneers for furniture and cabinetry, countertops, tabletops and exterior paneling. “Finally, in traditional tile, many manufacturers are employing nano-particulates and catalysts within their glazes to inhibit bacteria growth, self-clean—to a degree—and even help to purify the air,” Fasan explained.

Indeed, vendors are constantly evaluating their technology to improve upon their product offerings. “I believe the thin tile technology is the innovation that brings the most value to our end consumers,” Florida Tile’s Setti said. “The ability to install tile over tile gives you the very important benefit of less downtime and still have a result that is beautiful.”

While thin is in, a major point of emphasis—from a design perspective—centers on digital printing. The process has become so sophisticated that it completely transformed the category, allowing production of high-quality floor tiles that mimic natural materials and vary from piece to piece. “This is enabling production of just about any format, size, finish and look, ultimately giving consumers infinite choices of tile,” MSI’s Shah said.

Advances in technology have also paved the way for larger sizes. “The industry has developed new standards for these products,” said Rick Church, executive director of the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association. “The products can be used in many applications, including outside in large commercial construction.”

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Tile: Spanish suppliers steal the show at Cersaie 2017

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

Bologna, Italy—More than 90 Tile of Spain companies showcased their latest ceramic tile innovations and styles at Cersaie 2017 held here earlier this fall. Spanish tile manufacturers unveiled collections that reflected popular design trends.

It should come as no surprise that Spanish tile manufacturers drew a lot of attention at Cersaie. According to ASCER, the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association, Spain is the No. 1 exporter of ceramic tiles in Europe and No. 2 in the world. Alongside years of tradition, knowledge and experience, Tile of Spain ceramic products are present in over 180 countries worldwide.

Following is a snapshot of the major trends observed at Cersaie, as depicted by the scores of Tile of Spain companies in attendance.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.16.32 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.16.40 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.16.52 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lisbiz Strategies: Fashion’s influence on flooring design

October 23/30, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 10

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoRecently I visited Oxford, Miss., to meet with Lisa Stout, owner of Stout’s Flooring, to present a seminar for local female business owners. Oxford is an interesting college town, the home of “Ole Miss” with about 50,000 residents, 25,000 of which are college students. They have wonderful shirts that read, ‘Oxford, Miss., population—full!’ I was here 22 years ago and the town is barely recognizable. Now it has everything you would need, including a luxurious town square with a boutique hotel that was formerly a gas station. The carpet design is an industrial, two-tone herringbone pattern. The lines in the room are very clean and uncluttered.

I asked Stout—who, with her sister, owns a high-end clothing shop—if she sees any societal trends influencing flooring. She travels to all of the boutique shows to buy for the store. It also gives her an idea of trends that will be influencing her flooring market. She believes flooring is definitely impacted by clothing and make-up trends. It may take a year or so for things to change but it’s definitely noticeable.

Not only is “what’s old is new,” but businesses are doing more than recycling. This technique sets the stage for interesting interiors but it only provides a background. Authenticity is not necessary, as artifacts from many places can wind up in the same room. For our meeting, we were in an interesting restaurant with floors that appeared hand scraped. The walls were stark white with pictures created out of tufts of cotton. The copper lighting was recessed into the beams.

According to Stout, it also includes sustainability. “We’ve been selling and installing tiles indicative of the early 20th century. We’ve had to do lots of research to find the right materials. It’s exciting to see buildings being recycled with a modern twist. For example, hand-scraped original wood floors in buildings with metal recessed lighting. Our sand and finished flooring business continues to take off. Natural looks in wood are very appealing to consumers.”

The matte finish prevalent in lipstick is also showing up in luxury vinyl, laminate and wood floors. Glossy floors seem to be out and shiny is hard to find. Another clothing trend, crushed velvet, is popping up in area rugs. This sounds like the velvet look, which caused plenty of problems in broadloom years ago. Carpet products with the industrial commercial look are selling well in residential settings.

A friend of mine in Knoxville, Tenn., who buys and flips houses, is installing the gray/beige patterned look. Herringbone patterns and high and low looped styles are widespread. These designs have an industrial feeling but are still soft to the touch. In the 1970s, when I was in the flooring retail business, we sold industrial patterned goods but for different reasons. We told customers the carpets were very durable; we never discussed the styling. Now the styling as well as the durability is very popular. It’s obvious the commercial carpet look has found its way into residential settings.

Trends such as “farm to table” and local breweries are giving a new meaning to home grown. Handcrafted, large beam tables pair well with the rough-hewn floors. The farm to table movement brings us back to a simpler time. Some other noteworthy design trends: Interiors are becoming more sparse; country chic seems to be on the back burner; and frilly is gone—at least for now—which leaves the interiors open for an emphasis on the flooring patterns.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

 

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In Style: Wood design forecasting—Hitting the mark takes good timing

October 23/30, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 10

By Reginald Tucker

 

Normandy_Oak_Brulee_1_Det_altFashion and style play a key role in the development of today’s floor covering products, and hardwood is no exception. While the correlation is well documented, many would also argue that the development of hardwood looks, patterns, colors and styles are largely a function of regional tastes irrespective of overarching, global fashion trends. The key for many suppliers, experts say, is finding just the right balance.

“Wood flooring trends have a bigger connection to regional trends more so than fashion trends,” said Joe Amato, vice president of residential styling, Mannington. “An example would be areas of the Midwest region that is still supporting refined rustic looks, but sections of the East Coast now moving to urban looks that are less rustic, with less character.”

With the tendency for fashion trends to literally come and go, how does one go about developing a product lineup several years in advance of product roll-outs that might not be in tune with regional or local tastes by the time the products are officially launched? “The biggest challenge is always developing a product inspired by a home fashion trend that’s too early for the market,” Amato explained, citing the rise in popularity of the color gray in markets around the world prior to catching on in the U.S.

Accurate trendspotting not only applies to pinpoint, precise color forecasting. As Amato explained: “In addition to color we follow wood formats, surface texture, wood species and surface gloss and try to time the development to the market needs. You don’t always need to be the first but you need to be ready to respond when the timing is right.”

That begs the question: Are retailers truly conscious of the correlation between fashion and styling with respect to how they prospect or close sales on a daily basis? If retailers embrace the fashion story in simple terms of current home fashion trends, according to Amato, they can truly justify and sell the corresponding looks and styles from the manufacturers. “Mannington goes to great lengths to create hardwood products that coordinate with the popular home fashion trends, but we need the retailer to emphasize the connection. We try to provide retailers the necessary tools to educate the consumer and tell the fashion story to make it a part of the selling experience.”

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In Style: Kane Carpet finds success in high-end rug biz

October 23/30, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 10

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.52.31 PMDespite the increase in hard surface sales, carpets and rugs continue to hold significance in flooring showrooms across the United States. Kane Carpet, a trendsetter in broadloom since 1947, is helping dealers increase margins and soft surface sales with its high-end carpets and rugs. The company also aims to provide retailers with upsell opportunities through its service, style and quality.

“We’ve put our customers back into the rug business,” said Bruce Kurtz, vice president sales & marketing, Kane Carpet. “Kane offers retailers diversification and profitability.”

Part of Kane Carpet’s appeal is its unique style. These fresh looks combined with premium materials provide retailers with opportunities for greater margins. What’s more, the company’s products are designed to complement hard surface offerings, which continue to creep into all areas of the home.

“Over the last few years we’ve taken a completely different direction as the marketplace became extremely casual and the consumer started looking for decelerated [carpet and rug] designs,” Kurtz explained. “This is because years ago hard surface used to be an application, but today it is a decoration. Oftentimes hard surface has a lot going on, so the customer wants to tone down the carpet. We’ve changed our whole method of styling our products to meet customer [demands].”

By providing a soft surface that complements wood, laminate, LVT, etc., Kane helps retailers sell high-end rugs to existing hard surface customers. “If a consumer is going into a store for a hard surface, chances are she will want a rug from the same place,” Kurtz explained. “Most people like one-stop shopping.”

Jeff Penrose, owner, Specialty Carpet Showroom, Salt Lake City, has carried Kane Carpet 26 years and is installing it everywhere. “We do everything from custom staircases to theaters to family rooms. These products even go into some commercial projects, including hospitality.”

While the manufacturer’s black and white offerings has done well for Specialty Carpet Showroom, according to Penrose, the retailer doesn’t just stick to one look or pattern. “They’ve got such a variety, we really sell their whole line,” Penrose added.

At Lester Carpets, Los Angeles, Kane’s uniquely designed area rugs have been selling well for the past 10 years. “We have a large display in our showroom and it’s definitely an eye catcher,” said Neil Lester. “With the increase in demand for area rugs, they have some unusual patterns that make interesting statements on the floor. Kane Carpet offers such a wide variety of patterns and color, which is unique in the industry.”

Along with high style comes greater margin opportunities. Just ask Rob Bush, owner of Abbey of Addison in Chicago. He has been carrying thousands of Kane Carpet products for about 15 years. “Selling Kane Carpet certainly helps our image, especially when a customer sees all those beautiful products and such a large selection—they look like carpets made on rug machines. Kane Carpet has a very high-end line with extremely unique, value-oriented and beautiful designer products.”

Getting with the ‘program’
In addition to providing high-end products, Kane Carpet provides its dealers with an alliance program, where the manufacturer only sells through dealers that have samples in the store. “The dealers know that their margins are always going to be higher with us than with others because we reward the dealers for showing our projects,” Kurtz explained. “We show these retailers over and over again that our prices are better than the competition.”

To complement its product offerings and designer-like style, Kane Carpet has also created a product book for its dealers. The manufacturer hopes the book will help speed up processes and provide designers with a simple way to show all of Kane’s products.

“We have been very proactive with growing our designer business through our dealers by giving them the book of Kane which has everything in it,” Kurtz said. “We give retailers the books if they show our whole line. Plus, they can have as many books as they need to support their designer trade. The book gives such a simplistic way for designers to look up any product and order samples, without them coming to the store.  This makes the process that much easier. It’s a great way to do business on the fly.”