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My take: Best of Surfaces entries that just missed

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Steven Feldman

 

This issue celebrates the Best of Surfaces winners, the awards competition co-sponsored by Floor Covering News and Informa Exhibitions, owners and operators of The International Surface Event, for the past seven years. The competition highlights innovation, technology, sustainability, style and design, and best large and small booths on display at the industry’s premier event.

It is structured in such a way where only the judges’ consensus choices are featured. But that doesn’t mean other products and companies were any less deserving. With no honorable mentions or runners-up, the competition fails to acknowledge products that almost made it, in the judges’ conversations to the very end. In fact, in some cases, more than one judge may have chosen a product that did not win because of a 5-3-1 scoring system. So I thought it would be appropriate to pay homage to some of those products here.

In the style and design category, won by Emser Tile’s Lakewood and Lakehouse, Mannington’s AduraMax Apex generated much consideration. The judges were deliberating over the waterproof product’s on-trend looks, contemporary colors, natural wood grains and finely detailed surface textures. The planks offer multiple widths with a visual not seen anywhere else on the show floor.

In the technology category, captured this year by Magnetic Building Solutions’ MagneBuild, Mohawk’s Omnify was discussed in depth. Omnify is said to be the flooring industry’s only omni-channel solution that connects online, in-store and product experience. The idea is to give retailers the content, tools and reporting to take their digital marketing to new levels with integrated social search, reputation management, website optimization and lead management.

The other product discussed heavily here was a room visualizer called Roomvo. How it works: A shopper can upload a photo of her room through her phone and see her flooring choice in high quality without the need for an app to download. Customers interact with the visualizer intuitively in seconds. Manufacturers and retailers integrate Roomvo with their existing websites, enabling it for desktop, tablet and mobile phone shoppers. While it may take room visualizers to another level, the judges felt it was not new compared to an innovation such as magnetic flooring.

Mohawk was also discussed in the innovation category, won by Raskin Industries’ Ceramix, a product billed as the industry’s first loose-lay LVT with built-in, authentic grout lines. Mohawk’s RevWood, its rebranding of its laminate collection, was the product, and one judge called it “laminate on steroids.” Mohawk calls it revolutionary laminate wood because of its waterproof nature. RevWood is also scratch and dent resistant, and features All Pet Protection. A few of the judges felt it was more about marketing than product, but the waterproof claim almost put it over the top.

In the sustainability category, won by Congoleum’s Cleo Home, a couple of other products caught the judges’ attention. First Marmoleum Click CinchLOC from Forbo was obviously discussed as linoleum is arguably the most sustainable product out there. Linoleum is naturally healthy, water resistant and made primarily from renewable resources, including linseed oil, wood flour and pine rosins. These natural ingredients provide Marmoleum Click CinchLOC with inherent anti-static properties to repel dust and dirt, making it easy to clean, thereby reducing exposure to allergens and contributing to better indoor air quality.

The judges also talked about Air.o, Mohawk’s 100% recyclable carpet. Air.o’s fibers are made from 100% polyester and don’t absorb moisture, helping to prevent the growth of allergens. It’s latex-free, odor free and produces no VOCs. A worthy candidate indeed, and a Best of Surfaces winner in 2017 for Innovation.

This year boasted a most deserving group of entries, providing the judges with a tough task indeed.

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Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition now accepting entries

New York, N.Y.—Confindustria Ceramica and the Italian Trade Agency are officially calling for entries for the 2018 Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition. The annual awards program, now celebrating its 25th year, recognizes the work of top North American architects and designers who create imaginative spaces that take advantage of the excellent technical and aesthetic qualities of Italian ceramic and porcelain tile.

Each year, a jury of design experts selects three winning projects as well as honorable mentions in the residential, institutional and commercial sectors. In addition to built projects, Ceramics of Italy is also looking for imaginative concepts from students. The jury’s official criteria includes: overall design of the project, aesthetic and technical quality of tile installation, degree to which the tile enhances the setting and the project’s sustainable attributes.

To qualify for entry, built projects in the residential, institutional and commercial categories must be designed by North America-based architects and designers, built or renovated between January 2013 and January 2017, and feature a significant amount of Italian ceramic/porcelain tile. To be eligible to submit to the student category, entrants must be enrolled at an accredited university in North America. Individual or group submissions are accepted through renderings, floor plans and sketches. There is no entry fee and multiple submissions are accepted. The deadline for entries is Feb. 15.

Winners will be notified in March and officially announced at the Ceramics of Italy International Press Conference at Coverings in Atlanta, May 8-11. The prize package for winners of the built project categories includes $3,000, accommodations and travel to Coverings to present the project, a dedicated advertisement in a leading design publication as well as a five-day CEU-accredited trip to Bologna, Italy to attend Cersaie with a delegation of top architects, designers and journalists from North America. In addition to special appointments on the show floor, the delegation will also enjoy the world-renowned cuisine of Bologna, cultural tours in the region and a chance to see tile production firsthand. An additional $1,000 will be awarded to the contractor/distributor team involved in each winning project. The winning student entry will receive a trip to Atlanta to present the project at Coverings in front of an audience of journalists, manufacturers and tile industry professionals.

For more information, visit tilecompetition.com.