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NeoCon turns 50: Design, innovation take center stage at milestone event

By Lindsay Baillie

Chicago—NeoCon, one of the largest commercial interior design shows in North America, concluded its 50th edition last month, drawing in more than 50,000 attendees—a 5% increase from 2017. The Mart in Chicago was bursting with 140 showrooms, where roughly 350 exhibitors showcased the latest and greatest in corporate, hospitality, healthcare, education and retail design.

According to show management, the show floor was completely occupied, which was in keeping with NeoCon trends seen over the past 10 years. What’s more, flooring was the second highest represented commercial industry. “The fact that this was our 50th edition added a lot of buzz and energy,” said Byron Morton, vice president of leasing, NeoCon.

The scores of A&D professionals in attendance echoed those sentiments. “We could tell from the energetic crowds at The Mart that the excitement of NeoCon was at an all-time high this year,” said John Hopkins, principal and design director, IA Interiors Architects’ Chicago office. “We loved that there was such a focus on acoustic solutions—it’s an undervalued component when it comes to privacy, workplaces and open environments. We also noticed there were a lot of natural materials and finishes, a welcome return after the influx of the cold, industrial materials of the past few years.”

Angie Lee, AIA, IIDA, principal, design director-interiors, FXCollaborative Architects LLP, New York, agreed. “I have attended NeoCon for the last three years and continue to be impressed by the immense energy and creativity of the manufacturers, designers and associations. I saw a range of products implementing unexpected, thought-provoking uses of color, pattern and texture.”

Vendors attributed much of that enthusiasm to three primary factors—the strength of key end-use market sectors, the bevy of new products that provide both aesthetic and performance solutions, and positive trends in non-residential construction spending.

“Traditional hard surface markets like retail and healthcare still are very strong, and non-traditional markets such as offices and hospitality are shifting toward hard surfaces in many areas they did not consider before,” Robert Brockman, segment marketing manager, commercial, Armstrong Flooring, told FCNews.

LVT in particular is driving commercial flooring consumption across several end-use markets as it continues to exceed the growth of the once-dominant broadloom sector. This is especially the case in hotels. “Most hospitality end users are also looking to make a change to something more timeless in terms of pattern and color,” noted Al Boulogne, vice president, commercial resilient business, Mannington Commercial. “That, coupled with the easier maintenance requirements, make it an ideal product for these environments.”

But it’s not just hospitality that’s driving LVT specifications. Observers say healthcare holds the biggest growth potential for LVT, especially in areas such as hotel lobbies, hospital corridors and senior living spaces. “Slip/fall issues help LVT vs. other hard surface options,” said Paul Eanes, vice president of new business development, Metroflor.

Product trends
The vast array of innovative new products on display at the show reflected diverse requirements of architects, specifiers and designers. To keep up with demand, flooring manufacturers are developing new products across both hard and soft surface arenas that appeal to multiple commercial sectors at a time. In addition to developing products that fulfill “resi-mercial” demands, manufacturers are incorporating more pops of color to assist designers in creating unique, productive spaces.

In terms of hard surfaces, manufacturers continue to incorporate sustainable, biophilic design, with resilient flooring mimicking stone, cement, wood and other natural looks. Armstrong Flooring, for example, rolled out a heterogeneous sheet product called Mixers, which was inspired by the vibrant colors of different cocktails. Focused on its heterogeneous and homogeneous sheet lines, Armstrong presented attendees with new products that boast equal performance. “The update there is two fold,” Brockman stated, adding that designers can specify both sheet lines together without performance issues. “It’s not only new designs and patterns, but Diamond 10 technology has been added to the heterogeneous line.”

New to NeoCon, Cleo Contract—a Congoleum brand—highlighted its non-vinyl, non-PVC product. Made up of 85% limestone, Cleo has an ultra-low VOC, high-performance clear coating for durability and performance. What’s more, its visuals are digitally printed, which allows the company to produce custom looks. To help designers show what the product looks like after a complete install, Cleo Contract developed digitally printed papers that can be updated in real time with the current SKUs, according to Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer and executive vice president, sales, Congoleum.

Also riding the non-vinyl train is Mannington Commercial with its latest non-vinyl alternative resilient tile, Cirro. Offered in 20 visuals and four different sizes in tile and plank formats, Cirro can be installed using traditional resilient adhesives.

Also new from Mannington is Northern Wonders, which was inspired by a designer’s visit to see the Northern Lights. “Its colors and design are a culmination of ideas developed during the trip,” said Whitney LeGate, business manager, commercial LVT, Mannington. The product is available in nine colorways.

Over at the Karndean Designflooring space, the emphasis was on designer education as well as the seemingly endless options available through its Korlok, glue-down and loose-lay products. The company’s grout strips, available in 16 colors, were installed in the booth to show how to incorporate fake grout lines as well as pops of color to a SKU. “We’ve expanded our solid color offering to allow for both bold, saturated pops of colors and pastels to align with 2019 color forecasts, great for projects that require an elevated brand identity or to add a bit of whimsy,” said Jenne Ross, director of marketing. “We’re excited that these custom colors will be available on-demand and custom cut at our Pittsburgh facility.”

One of the products Raskin Industries showcased was Ceramix, a resilient tile with built-in grout lines that’s available in a variety of visuals, including stone, marble and concrete. “We have 36 x 36 tiles that give you a really clean smooth concrete look,” said Ted Rocha, vice president of sales. “It would be something that you’d see in an Apple store, for instance.”

Aspecta released its Aspecta 10 line, a premium multi-layer flooring with Isocore technology. The new offering features a 28mil wear layer and can be installed floating corner to corner—thanks in part to its innovative vertical locking system. “This is the Rolls Royce of multi-layer flooring,” said Marcel Kies, global CEO, Aspecta. “What we’ve tried to create is a good, better, best product.”

Shannon Specialty Floors displayed its new Naturescapes line, which was designed with the help of Jason McLennan, author, founder and creator of the Living Building Challenge. Naturescapes, he explained, is a resilient flooring product made with organic polymers. “It’s not vinyl, it’s free of all Red List chemicals and it’s the first Living Product Certified resilient flooring in the industry. This product class is highly sought after.”

Roppe highlighted multiple products at the show, including its Northern Parallels Chevron LVT planks available in a 9¼ x 59¼ format in three color ranges. According to Dee Dee Brickner, marketing manager, the line reflects strong demand for one of the most popular patterns—a directional pattern that’s often seen in real hardwood installations. “By offering a left and right design, these floors can also be laid in the same direction to create another unique look by using only one side.”

Looking beyond LVT, manufacturers in the rubber segment also looked to generate some buzz by showcasing products in on-trend, vibrant colors. Suitable for multiple applications, these manufacturers have developed customer cut and base profile programs to provide designers with greater options.

Then there was American Biltrite’s AB Pure, which features its signature Nfuse technology (Here, the coating that is applied directly into the flooring.) “Normally you would take [a rubber floor] out of the box, glue it down and then you’d scrub and clean it to release the mold agent,” Mark Tickle, director of marketing, explained. “With AB Pure, once you lay it down you use a damp mop on the surface. Then as soon as the adhesive has cured you can have people on it.”

Flexco is incorporating different wood-look visuals as well as new rubber plank sizes to its portfolio. “We’re also going to be launching some of our new base profiles, which is catching a lot of people’s interest,” said Haley Plank, marketing manager. “We’re also working on sustainability for our products. We have two new HPDs coming out for our rubber tile and treads.”

Procedo Flooring’s new Maxime rubber flooring line—available in eight colors in a 24 x 24 tile format—was designed to be installed across multiple settings, including educational facilities, sports facilities and retail areas. “We also started doing water jet cuts on the product for greater design options,” said Pierre Lefort, national sales manager.

All shapes and sizes
“Some of the coolest things in floor covering,” noted NeoCon’s Morton, “has to be the different shapes and textures” on display at the show. To that end, Tarkett showcased several products ranging from Pentagonals, which won a Best of NeoCon Gold, and Woven Fringe, a Best of NeoCon Platinum winner.

According to Terry Mowers, vice president chief creative officer, Pentagonals features rubber in a way that highlights a wide range of design possibilities. “You can get whatever color palettes you want within the system and a variety of shapes.”

Woven Fringe complements Tarkett’s rubber offering by providing a resi-mercial solution that is part of the company’s area rug program. According to Mowers, the product’s neutral color palette fits right in with current trends. “We’re seeing grays moving to healthcare in combination with other colorings. We’re also seeing grays getting warmer but we’re not seeing them move that far away.”

As hard surfaces continue to gain more share across various commercial markets, end users are incorporating more area rugs in their designs. At the same time, carpet tile is also gaining steam. New soft surfaces continue to follow sustainable, biophilic design while brightening up spaces with hints of color.

Case in point: Aquafil’s booth displayed clothing and carpet featuring Econyl fiber. According to Kathy Long, brand communications manager, the booth was designed to show how fashion and carpet flow together. “We’re trying to show the endless possibilities of Econyl,” Long said. “We have 28 new colors to the Econyl collection—new neutrals and pops.”

Patcraft highlighted Dichroic, a PET carpet tile made from recycled plastic bottles. “We’ve worked on two products to pull plastic waste out of the environment,” said Kieren Corcoran, director of performance markets. “We’ve taken the bottle chip that can’t be recycled and turned it into fibers. We can then recycle it again at the end of its life back into pellets.”

EF Contract, which made its NeoCon debut, highlighted several carpet collections, including Rust Dye. “What we did was take metals and went through the process of rust dying them and capturing what they leave behind as they decay,” Susan Curtis, vice president, design and marketing, explained. “We’re all about tile, skinny planks and giving the designer flexible to design their own patterns.”

New to Mannington’s broadloom products is Moire, a carpet tile offering developed in conjunction with installation artist Gabriel Dawe. Moire mimics an installation Dawe completed in The Mart, which featured 30 miles of colorful fiber organized in prism format. Interestingly, the installation changed its colors as attendees passed by.

Mohawk put the spotlight on several new soft surface offerings, including Sunweave, a collection of woven broadloom and rug products featuring Heathered Hues Duracolor premium nylon, and Crafted Convergence, which draws on influence from Native American pottery and baskets to everyday Japanese and African garments. “With Crafted Convergence, we’re starting to transfer more hospitality looks into the workplace,” said Mark Oliver, vice president, workplace and retail. “The other beauty is it’s broadloom, but we’re also offering it as a rug.”

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Sunbrella hits the high end with Dickson brand

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Steven Feldman

Architects and designers have known the Sunbrella brand for decades. After all, Sunbrella enjoys the reputation of being a best-in-class manufacturer of fabrics in terms of performance, durability and design. While the company has a foothold in a variety of industries, upholstery fabric for both indoor and outdoor applications is probably what resonates most with the A&D community. Resistance to mildew as well as fading and degradation from sunlight are just a couple of its products’ hallmarks that allow for a premium that can often be double the price of its competitors.

Family owned by parent company Glen Raven, the 57-year-old brand in the late 1990s purchased a France-based competitor to its European business called Dickson. Then, about five years ago, Dickson created a woven textile for the floor. Its success in Europe and Asia fueled the decision to bring the product to the U.S. and enter what can be best described as a somewhat crowded woven textile flooring market.

Dickson Woven Flooring by Sunbrella made its debut at the Starnet spring meeting in Orlando earlier this year, which was followed by additional exposure at HD Expo in Las Vegas. Now it comes to the big stage this month at NeoCon. Industry veterans Natalie Jones (Mannington Commercial) and Catherine Minervini (Bentley) are two of the three A&D regional managers handling the line.

Architects and designers are quite familiar with the woven textile flooring category having specified similar products from Chilewich, Bolon, Tandus Centiva (Powerbond), J+J (Kinetics) and Armstrong (Fitnice) to name a few. These products provide warmth and comfort underfoot like a soft surface but offer the cleanability and durability of a hard surface. This makes it an ideal choice for high-traffic applications where great acoustical properties are needed as well as comfort for the people who are standing and walking on it. But according to Jones, that’s where the similarities end—especially with regard to construction and performance.

How it’s made

One of the unique things about Dickson Woven Flooring is the fibers are thermo-soldered together as well as into the phthalate-free backing itself so it’s not an open weave; it’s more of a flatweave. Things aren’t going to ground down and get trapped into the flooring as they may with similar products, according to Jones. Furthermore, soldering the fibers together also results in a beautiful aesthetic of a textile, she added.

There is also an optical effect unique to Dickson with the higher contrast colors that allows the same color to appear differently. Depending on the reflection of light off the fiber, it projects ever-changing color compositions within a space. This striking effect is produced by reflected light on bicolor fabric threads and further intensified through the texture and placement of patterns on the covering. The result is a product with eye-catching 3-D and holographic effects created within the space. The collection offers four different broadloom fabric textures in 30 color shades.

Dickson is also FloorScore certified to promote good indoor air quality. Furthermore, the product installs easily due to what the company claims is the only no-fray system available in the U.S. market. Enhancing the product’s longevity is the high-performance backing engineered to withstand the heaviest of foot traffic.

From a technical standpoint, a condensed cushion gives Dickson Woven Flooring optimal acoustical ratings related to sound transmissions and ambient noise, Jones said. The product also boasts an ease of maintenance story; it can be vacuumed, hot water extracted or you can simply take a wet cloth to it.

Jones sees Dickson Woven Flooring being specified in multiple applications. “Fitness centers should be a prime market because it offers a better aesthetic than rubber and doesn’t have that rubber smell. We also are seeing opportunity in retail as operators look at performance from a hard surface that also offers comfort underfoot. In hospitality, we are seeing more hard surface in hotel rooms because of the maintenance and durability concerns.”

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NeoCon Preview

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Mara Bollettieri

 

This year NeoCon celebrates its 50th anniversary of showcasing innovative flooring designs for the commercial contract market. The three-day event kicks off June 11 at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

The exhibition will feature thousands of new flooring products from a plethora of manufacturers and includes 100 CEU seminars, various programs, special anniversary celebrations, marquee presentations and more.

Following are some of the latest commercial products that will be on display during the show.

Aquafil USA

Econyl regenerated nylon opens up endless possibilities for architects, designers and carpet producers seeking a synthetic covering or carpet that performs beyond expectations.

With the addition of 28 new colors, Econyl yarn is now available in 170 options, all eligible for LEED points. Designers can create performance-driven carpets with Econyl while giving their clients an innovative sustainable solution.

According to Aquafil, Econyl regenerated nylon means no waste, no new resources—just endless possibilities.

Altro Floors

Altro Orchestra resilient flooring has been engineered to create the ideal environment to heal, learn and live. For demanding areas with constant foot traffic, this vinyl sheet provides comfort underfoot and sound reduction. With a grand palette of 40 colors, designers can create the right atmosphere for their spaces.

Altro Orchestra is a 2.8mm sheet vinyl made with 22% rapidly renewable, bio-based content and is certified for low VOCs, thereby helping facilities achieve LEED goals.

American Biltrite

ABPure rubber flooring tiles with Nfuse technology are ready to use right out of the box. The patent-pending treatment allows foot traffic immediately after installation. This tile requires time-consuming set up; is extremely durable against soiling, staining and scuffing; significantly reduces installation downtime; is easier to clean and is declared Red List free.

Cleo Contract

Cleo Contract is a patented construction that combines engineered performance with visual artistry. It has a waterproof, flexible core that is 85% limestone and contains zero PVC, plasticizers, phthalates or chloro-chemicals. Solvent-free, high-fidelity digital imaging offers nearly unlimited design possibilities with nuances in shading and detail. An ultra-low VOC, high-performance clear coating delivers durability and performance.

DuChâteau

DuChâteau’s Vinyl DeLuxe Grand offers unique visuals and a European aesthetic in a durable and low-maintenance flooring option. Available in 7- and 9-inch-wide plank formats, Vinyl Deluxe Grand is the latest chapter in luxury engineered floating floors with LuxCor waterproof core, easy click installation and attached HushWalk underlayment. This collection captures the beauty of wood and appeals to residential and commercial customers.

EF Contract

New materials for product development often focus on a single feature—lightweight, durable, tech-enabled. The EF Contract Design Studio played with these concepts in its new Kicks collection, inspired by innovative materials and interpreted through the company’s own innovative tufting and high-performance backing technologies. These inspirations produced a collection that is versatile, while the modular formats enable designers to create complex installations as well as unified, simple fields of texture.

Fletco Carpets

LockTiles is a unique carpet tile shape with laser-cut edges that interlock to fit together in all directions, meter for meter, no matter the size of the area. LockTiles guarantees an effective installation with a homogeneous surface, making the joints less visible. It is for users who want the best in flat-woven carpet tiles and its advantages yet still desire the look of broadloom.

Flexco

The FreeFlex rubber tile collection embodies true flexibility. A variety of new sizes offer patterns and textures with the durability and resilience of rubber. Sizes include: 6 x 36, 12 x 36 and 18 x 36, These additional sizes complement the company’s existing collection of 12 x 12, 18 x 18 and 36 x 36 tiles.

Johnsonite

Pentagonals from Johnsonite, a Tarkett brand, is a collection of three distinct shapes created with Cradle to Cradle certified rubber flooring. Johnsonite has turned three convex polygons into rubber tiles; each is available in Johnsonite’s full rubber flooring line, meaning designers can choose from nearly limitless textures and colors to create truly unique flooring. Rubber flooring is naturally slip resistant with shock-absorbing qualities as well as acoustic properties. The line is also sustainable.

Karndean Designflooring

Textum from the Opus collection was inspired by forms in concrete. It was created as a hybrid abstract wood visual that combines the grain detailing and plank format of traditional European oak flooring with the effect of imprinted concrete. These 36 x 6-inch planks act as a wood visual but can also be used with design strips to create the look of porcelain tile without the practical drawbacks. It features a 20 mil wear layer and a 15-year commercial warranty.

Mannington Commercial

The Cirro collection, a non-vinyl alternative to LVT, is a thermoplastic composite resilient tile that offers the same versatility as LVT. Cirro does not contain any ortho-phthalate plasticizers and is a low-emitting product. In addition, its sustainable construction features recycled content. Available in 20 visuals, it’s designed to bring beauty and sustainability to any space. Featuring 16 wood visuals in 71⁄2 x 48 and 41⁄2 x 36 plank sizes, two stone patterns and two abstract visuals in 18 x 18 and 12 x 24 tile sizes.

Metroflor

Metroflor will showcase the new Aspecta Ten Tilt and Tones collection. The latest LVT design breakthrough pairs four new geometrically and biophilically inspired Tilt tiles with the neutral Tones tile palette. The 24 x 24 tiles are presented in four color groups, each consisting of unique Tilt tile designs that can be paired with two companion Tones tiles. The line is suitable for most commercial environments.

Mohawk Group

Pivot Point ERT responds to a world population that continues to urbanize with patterns and colors inspired by nature and an alternative chemistry, Red List-free, PVC-free enhanced resilient tile. Using biophilic principles, its design motifs can contribute to reducing stress, enhancing creativity, improving well-being and expediting healing. It features wood, textile and stone visuals, and is designed to achieve Living Product Challenge Petal Certification.

Raskin Industries

Raskin’s Elevations AcoustX meets the demand for something unique in the flooded LVT market with fashion-forward, proprietary designs created by Michael Raskin, CEO. The enhanced aesthetics of AcoustX complement the product’s performance.

AcoustX’s pre-attached underlayment offers an acoustic solution while reducing installation time (no sound-abatement layer is required). AcoustX can be installed over most existing hard surface floors. As part of its construction, it includes a solid fiberglass sheet.

Shannon Specialty Floors

Teknoflor Naturescapes HPD is the brand’s first organic sheet good made with ecuran, an organically derived polyurethane composite material processed from plant-based oils such as castor oil and naturally occurring minerals like chalk. This resilient sheet flooring has all the advantages of sheet vinyl—durability, easy maintenance and versatility—without the PVC. It comes in 24 designs across three distinct styles that can be used independently or together.

Shaw Contract

Haven is a collection of modular carpet tiles designed to add the comforts of a residential space to the contract market. It conveys the warmth of the home in all places where people connect with colleagues and friends by utilizing color, texture and pattern. By blurring old distinctions between domestic and commercial spaces, it embraces a more nuanced understanding of how society lives today—finding home wherever creativity takes the end user.

Tandus Centiva

Tandus Centiva, a Tarkett brand, will exhibit Color Play—a product based on the company’s latest design research in education and healthcare spaces. The palette includes 24 hues in each of the three pattern options for a total of 72 product solutions. Color Play features Tarkett’s TechTonic—a shift forward in performance for hard surface floors. Its advanced new polyurethane technology is super tough and resists scratching, abrasions, scuffing and staining.

 

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My take: Award of Excellence—Behind the winners

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Steven Feldman

 

Now that the 22nd Annual Award of Excellence winners have been announced, we can dig a little deeper and try to provide a little commentary on the results. In what seems to be the case each year, there were some surprises interspersed between the usual suspects as you will find on page 22. But with the voting surpassing 2,200 ballots this year, we are confident the winners are well deserving of the honors bestowed upon them by the retail and distribution communities.

Just for the record, every vote is vetted. Any ballot that is submitted from manufacturer personnel is deleted. As well, we often find the same retailer voting multiple times. Only his or her first vote is counted; the rest are eliminated.

While FCNews publishes only the winners in each category, it is interesting to look behind the numbers and analyze the vote counts. The most interesting aspect of the voting came in the Resilient – Commercial category, where Johnsonite had won the past two years in a landslide. This year, however, Mannington Commercial turned the tables in very convincing fashion. Given how almost all the votes come from flooring retailers, I surmise they were endorsing Mannington’s Main Street offerings.

The Hardwood B category, won by Anderson Tuftex this year, is traditionally one of the most contentious. Finishing close behind the newly combined brand were Somerset, Mullican, USFloors and Mirage. Those five companies commanded 58% of the vote. Eleven companies in this category scored at least 50 votes.

Speaking of contentious categories, the new Hardwood C group fit the bill. This was the first year we separated some of the smaller suppliers into their own class, 17 to be exact. So we really had no idea what would happen. When the dust cleared, it was HomerWood pulling away by a comfortable margin in a category that saw seven of those 17 companies garner at least 100 votes. Those who performed admirably here were Cali Bamboo, Triangulo, Monarch and Urbanfloor.

I was also interested to see what would happen in the LVT B category once we jettisoned USFloors to the new WPC/Rigid Core classification. Close race between Karndean Designflooring, EarthWerks and Metroflor, which together earned nearly two-thirds of the vote.

One of my favorite categories is Laminate B. Why? Because there are eight companies competing there, and each garnered at least 5% of the vote. No company received fewer than 100 votes and four had at least 250, or 11%.

So, when I was a statistics major in college before switching to economics, I learned the more times you flip a coin, the better the odds of a 50/50 split between heads and tails. But that’s not the case when it comes to voting. The more votes you have, the more one candidate will assert itself. But not when it comes to the Award of Excellence. In the Cushion A category, it was a two-horse race between Carpenter and Leggett. And it was akin to Affirmed-Alydar in the 1978 Belmont Stakes. Over 2,200 votes, and just 14 separated the pair.

As for tile, the last time Dal-Tile lost the A category, Bill Clinton was in office. And kudos to Emser for winning the B category for the second year in a row after increasing its share of the voting from 9.8% to 13.7% to 15.8% to 16.2% these last four years. This is another company growing by leaps and bounds.

One last observation, and I said this last year as well: We have noticed a huge disparity in the voting between ballots cast online and those captured in person at Surfaces. While 95% of the voting is done online, those companies that do not exhibit at Surfaces garner a much lower percentage of the votes in the paper balloting done at the show. I’m sure Informa Exhibitions, our co-sponsor in the competition, will be happy to hear that.

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Starnet members host pre-NeoCon event

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Steven Feldman

New York—Three New York City-based Starnet commercial flooring contractors recently collaborated on a pre-NeoCon product showcase featuring about 10 Starnet vendors. Consolidated Carpet, Lane’s Floor Coverings & Interiors and Architectural Flooring Resource promoted the event, dubbed Inspiring Possibilities, which featured inspirational speaker John Maclean.

“The theme is twofold,” said Umberto Aponte, vice president of Lane’s, which spearheaded the event. “‘Inspiring’ is Maclean, and ‘possibilities’ is what Starnet and its contractors give the A&D community. Those possibilities include specification to post-installation, maintenance and everything in between throughout the continental U.S. and Hawaii.”

According to Aponte, the idea was born about a year ago at the Starnet spring meeting in San Diego, where Maclean was the keynote speaker. (Maclean is an Australian triathlete who was paralyzed in a bicycling accident when he was 22.) He subsequently became the first paraplegic to finish the Ironman World Championship and the first to swim the English Channel. In 2014, he completed the Nepean Triathlon without using a wheelchair after regaining some use of his legs through Ware K Tremor therapy. His story is one of perseverance, triumph and philanthropy to motivate others to bend their challenges into successes.

Lane Brettschneider, owner of Lane’s Floor Covering, came up with the idea to have an event in New York City with Maclean as the headliner. The idea was to get the Starnet Worldwide name further entrenched into the A&D community through a Starnet-driven event that could educate them on what Starnet members and vendors bring to the table.

About 140 members of the A&D community attended and took advantage of the opportunity to connect with higher-level executives from Starnet vendors, according to Aponte. Those that participated in the event included Tarkett, Johnsonite, Tandus Centiva, Gerflor, Milliken, Atlas, Masland, Mannington Commercial, HB Fuller and J+J.

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Contract: State of the industry—Key end-use sectors drive specifications

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By K.J. Quinn

 

In many ways the commercial contractor flooring market is like an onion—as you delve into each sector, one layer at a time, you start uncovering macro issues impacting flooring choices that go beyond traditional metrics. Sustainability, wellness principles and environmental impacts are among the major factors affecting facility design across the board, experts say.

“Manufacturers have increased focus on the impacts of their products on occupant well-being and productivity, offering a wider range of aesthetic and functional solutions to deliver against the requests of designers’ clients,” said Matthew Miller, president, Interface Americas.

Industry projections indicate the commercial market is on pace to experience similar growth as last year, with some segments faring much better than others. To put it in perspective, soft surfaces generated an estimated $3.6 to $4 billion in sales and upwards of 300 million square yards last year, according to industry estimates. Carpet tile claimed approximately 50% of volume and 60% of the value over broadloom—increases of 9% and 10%, respectively, over 2016.

Many trends that impacted commercial segments last year are carrying over into 2018. “I think the market for carpet will continue to lose share to hard surfaces,” said Brenda Knowles, vice president of marketing for Shaw Industries’ commercial business. “We’ll continue to see an emphasis on product design across all segments and more offerings that combine soft and hard surfaces.”

Nonetheless, there is still a good amount of broadloom being sold into commercial spaces, especially in sectors that demand a luxurious look and feel underfoot. “We still see some higher-end broadloom sold to the hospitality, legal and financial services sectors,” observed Richard French, vice president of sales, Bentley Mills. “At the high end of the spectrum, carpet tile is still not able to meet aesthetic needs.”

Hard surface seizes share

The market size for hard surfaces is nearly as much as carpet, estimated at $3.7 billion in sales. But that’s where the similarities end. Sales and volume grew by double digits, led by ceramic tile and stone ($1.45 million in 2017 sales), rubber ($650 million) and luxury vinyl tile ($600 million), according to industry estimates.

LVT is the fastest growing sector, with sales rising by double digits and usage expanding across all segments. “Hard surface growth in the commercial segment is being driven by LVT and ceramic,” Jeff Fenwick, president and COO, Tarkett North America, told FCNews. “LVT is showing up in more commercial spaces and design features of ceramic are taking it out of the ‘back of the house’ and letting it be utilized in other spaces.”

VCT, estimated at $250 million in 2017 sales, and sheet goods, which generated about $300 million, remain viable options. Healthcare and education, long strongholds of the sector, are reportedly losing market share. Hardwood, laminate flooring and linoleum are being specified for certain niches, although each category accounts for only a small percentage (less than 5% apiece) of the overall commercial market, statistics show. “For people who want that visual a little different and want to make more of a statement than a neutral gray floor, then linoleum is your answer,” said Denis Darragh, vice president, North America, Forbo Flooring.

While LVT dominates the headlines, one category maintaining steady growth is ceramic. While it’s difficult to determine sales and volume due to fragmented distribution channels, anecdotal research indicates tile commands approximately 15% of total commercial flooring sales and volume, with specified contract accounting for about 70% of the business. Growth rates are projected to mirror last year, when the category grew an estimated 6% in sales and 5% in square footage.

End-use activity

There are diverse applications for flooring within the five major sectors of the commercial business, the majority of which (an estimated 70% to 75%) is specified contract and the remainder Main Street commercial applications. Each has its own set of issues, trends and requirements which, in some cases, are unique to specific areas. As such, flooring choices and volume are expected to vary this year in some segments while remaining constant in others, industry watchers say.

“Traditional hard surface markets like retail and healthcare still are very strong, and non-traditional markets such as offices and hospitality are shifting toward hard surfaces in many areas they did not consider before,” said Robert Brockman, segment marketing manager, commercial, Armstrong Flooring.

The largest sector remains corporate/offices, representing roughly 40% of commercial flooring sales. Design strategies have traditionally centered on integrating natural elements into work spaces that help energize employees, encourage collaboration and make them feel more at home. “The goal is to leave work at the end of the day feeling recharged,” said Sharon Steinberg, AIA, LEEP AP, a principal architect at Stantec’s Houston office. “The design of the space, including flooring materials, can contribute to these feelings.”

Carpet tile has emerged as the top flooring choice, representing an estimated 55% to 60% share of the segment. “Carpet tile reduces sound transmission and provides underfoot comfort,” Interface’s Miller stated. “Carpet tile is also easy to upkeep and maintain—and since it is modular, it can easily be replaced or redesigned, providing the flexibility to update or refresh flooring as needed.”

Industry observers report the use of hard surfaces such as LVT, hardwood, porcelain tile and polished concrete is expanding beyond coffee and bar/break areas and into more diverse office environments. “While tile usage is typically limited to areas such as lobbies, bathrooms and kitchenettes, we predict there will be more tile being used in traditionally unexpected spaces,” said Gianni Mattioli, executive vice president, product and marketing, Dal-Tile. He cited advancements in the tile printing technology space as one of the primary reasons.

Another sector to watch is healthcare, which some believe represent the greatest growth potential for LVT. “Slip/fall issues help LVT vs. other hard surface options as well as infection control,” said Paul Eanes, vice president of new business development, Metroflor. “The segment is now more receptive to LVT in most places except operating rooms.”

Ceramic, porcelain and terrazzo tile are commonly found in hallways, making it easier to maneuver rolling equipment and mobile aids. “The health benefits and low maintenance of tile makes it ideal for this space, and our advancements in manufacturing have allowed us to make tile slip resistant through our proprietary StepWise technology, catering to residents’ safety needs,” Dal-Tile’s Mattioli said.

Fashion and function are paramount in hospitality, an industry reportedly investing millions of dollars to remodel their properties. It is expected to remain a bedrock segment for broadloom in particular as high-end products are the norm for guest rooms and public areas. “People still want to feel a soft surface when they hit the floor,” Shaw’s Knowles pointed out. “So even though the trend is towards hard surface, we’re seeing a combination of the two—and we’re providing solutions for that.”

LVT is reportedly growing at a faster rate than broadloom as the product gains wider acceptance, especially in guest rooms. “Most of these hospitality end users are also looking to make a change to something more timeless in terms of pattern and color,” observed Al Boulogne, vice president, commercial resilient business, Mannington Commercial. “That, coupled with the easier maintenance requirements, make it an ideal product for these environments.”

Further fueling usage is hotel owners’ interest in switching to interior decorating products that blend with the latest design styles and last longer—a big reason why ceramic is making inroads. “Designers in the hospitality space demand unique designs, and we are taking style and design to the next level through our latest introductions,” Dal-Tile’s Mattioli said.

One segment at the forefront of design is retail as end users not only seek products that are trendy, but also address performance/functional issues.

“You can create a pattern in a hardwood or stone look that leads you into different departments of the retail store,” noted Milton Goodwin, vice president of commercial sales, Karndean Designflooring. “There’s a lot of mixing and matching of SKUs.”

Even the education sector is getting a little more sophisticated in terms of the design aesthetic, observers report. “It’s copying what we’ve seen in other public segments by trying to become a little more trendy with their looks,” Mannington’s Boulogne stated. “So that pushes more and more business to the LVT category, where there are more design opportunities.”

R&D efforts center on beefing up performance levels to ensure flooring meets the varying needs of each space. “Designers can take LVT into places that maybe they hadn’t considered before,” added Melissa Quick, product and marketing manager, AVA by Novalis Innovative Flooring. “All of this has contributed to more confidence in the use of LVT in Main Street and specified spaces.”

 

 

 

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HD Expo: Hospitality takes its cues from residential design

May 14/21, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 24

By Steven Feldman

Las Vegas—Things are changing in hospitality. Guest rooms are moving more to hard service. Select service hotels—the 2- and 3-star properties—are growing and garnering more attention than luxury hotels. And technology is yielding better performing hardwood for public spaces.

“We are seeing a lot more mid-scale hotels, what they are calling select service, and a lot less of the 4- and 5-star hotels with the huge ballrooms and lobbies,” said John Reader, general manager, Desso Hospitality, a division of Tarkett. “That means there is a lot more emphasis on guest rooms, where the hotels make the money, and a lot less emphasis on the public space.”

As such, while the company is seeing much more traction in public spaces with hard surface and modular than, say, five years ago, the real growth is in select service. To that end, Desso showcased a patterned LVT to almost identically match a carpet tile. Collection Infinies by Tarkett is a high-definition LVT that invites users to customize four innovative designs with its proprietary co-creation tool. The technology allows users to select colors from a predetermined palette and personalize the patterns to their liking.

Talk to LVT suppliers, and they will attribute their increasing success in the hospitality segment to the product’s ability to provide solutions—whether it’s installation, maintenance or design flexibility. Take Karndean Designflooring, for example, which at HD Expo put the spotlight on Korlok, its entry into the rigid core arena. “It is increasing in popularity because of the fact it can go over imperfect subfloors,” Emil Mellow, director of public relations, told FCNews. “Someone just came by seeking to replace a ceramic tile floor with grout but didn’t want to rip it up. Korlok is a perfect solution because it will go right over it.”

Shaw Hospitality prides itself on offering different types of solutions for various types of spaces, according to John Crews, design manager, Lifestyles Studio, which includes the hospitality business. Among its centerpieces at HD Expo was Natural Choreography, a collaboration with Rockwell Group. Natural Choreography utilizes custom, end-cut block wood and sheared marble floor surfaces, which are signature interior elements for high-end hospitality projects. The patterns mimic natural stone and wood with “metal” inlay by creating high-definition scans of real lumber and stone. The idea is to bring these exclusive materials to mass hospitality as a unique, cost-effective solution. “We are taking natural elements and adding a twist,” Crews said. “It’s something a little different for public spaces and guest rooms.”

Republic Floors made its HD Expo debut with its patented Pure SPC, which the company claims is a step above what’s currently on the market. As Rotem Eylor, founder and CEO, explained, “Pure SPC offers a density of anywhere from 1200 psi to 2400 psi. It is made from four different stone powders with special polymers inside to make the material stable. Our claims ratio is less than 0.01%. The product is good in heat or cold, and it doesn’t need acclimation. It doesn’t expand and contract. For hospitality, it can go anywhere—public areas, guest rooms, even in the shower.”

Metroflor featured its Aspecta brand, which is finding favor in hotel guest rooms. Its Aspecta Ornamental line allows flexibility of design with a custom print overlay on a 2.5mm vinyl body. “It’s more of customized feel without a customized budget,” said Alan Rowell, director of sales, Aspecta. It allows a designer to create something beyond a monolithic design.”

Bringing past to present

Personalization of space and the need for a tactile experience—that’s what some of the carpet mills sought to address via their HD Expo introductions. “People are still craving the texture and experience to be able to connect with the product,” noted Jackie Detmer, vice president of design and product development, Mohawk Group, which features the Durkan brand for this segment. “Our new Crafted Convergence was inspired by a collaboration with the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, N.M. The carpet is modern but inspired by patterns that have been in [existence] for thousands of years.”

It was a similar story at Mannington Commercial, where Amanda Swindall, marketing director, talked about the continuation of personalization in design as well as what she called “resi-mercial” (making hospitality settings feel more like the comforts of home). In response to that trend, a new carpet tile called Heirloom, based on an old Czechoslovakian wedding dress, was previewed for a summer debut. “Look how the yarn comes in and out and how the color plays. It’s a handcrafted look that’s based on disintegration over time.”

Wood-strong

Hospitality is traditionally a segment that utilizes hardwood primarily in public spaces, but given the demands of the application, the wood must perform. In fact, hospitality is the No. 1 market for Nydree Flooring, whose products are acrylic infused, making them three to four times harder than regular wood, according to Jason Brubaker, vice president of sales and marketing. “Depending on the level of the property, our products could go in common areas, lobbies, restaurants and, in some cases, the guest rooms.”

Monarch came to HD Expo featuring its two main brands: Monarch Plank Hardwood Flooring, which is its quick-ship stocking collection, and Royal Custom Plank and Parquet, a wide array of unfinished offerings. According to Danny Harrington, vice president of marketing, Monarch’s products are suitable for hospitality applications due to a very heavy commercial finish, which features UV-cured oil.

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Mannington Select reinvigorates LVT with new visuals

Calhoun, Ga.—With new visuals in wood, stone and abstract patterns, Mannington Select LVT brings a tremendous selection of pattern options, a broader range of colors and compelling color coordination across product platforms. All of this, combined with a new premium construction, elevates Mannington Select to the pinnacle of the Mannington Commercial LVT product offering.

The collection offers a color update to existing wood patterns, including Chatham Oak, Princeton Cherry, Barnwood Plank and Mountain Pine. The design team also added new wood species such as a stylish and modern maple, a dark antique walnut, a distinguished classical walnut, and an oak option with softer graining available in less traditional, more neutral colors.

The resulting wood offering brings more choices informed by today’s trends—rustic looks as well as clean and modern aesthetics.

Mannington Select stone and abstract products were also updated. New stone visuals include a fine-grained, foliated slate that has a layer of pearl ink in the print to give depth. Crete features a soft linear striation with a unique grit-like texture. Among the abstracts, Celestial is a captivating linear pattern with warm and cool color play which highlights a pearlescent glow.

Select features an advancement of Mannington’s Quantum Guard Technology: Quantum Guard Elite. A multilayered technology, engineered to offer scratch resistance with best-in-class dimensional stability, advanced stain resistance, superior impact resistance and clean cutting during installation. Its easy, no-polish maintenance significantly reduces overall lifecycle cost and total cost of ownership.

The products are certified under FloorScore, approved as CA01350 compliant and recognized in LEED. Mannington Select LVT is manufactured in an ISO 9001 and 14001 registered manufacturing facility. With the addition of the new performance related features, Mannington Select offers enhanced warranties. Those new warranties include a limited 20-year commercial warranty and limited 20-year quantum guard elite warranty.

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Mannington Commercial’s Origami collection wins Best of Year

Calhoun, Ga.—Mannington Commercial’s Origami collection has won a Best of Year award for product design from Interior Design magazine. Origami, an upscale three-pattern carpet collection, explores and interprets the classic art of paper folding.

Designed by the Mannington Design Studio in collaboration with HOK Product Design, Origami’s patterns take inspiration from origami folds and are named in the same spirit: Mountain Fold, Valley Fold and Fan Fold. Soft lines strike a unique balance between geometric and organic, while scale and line weight play off one another, sculpting complexity out of simplicity and high design out of understatement.

Structured yet highly versatile, each pattern can stand alone or be matched with others to create dynamic looks and wayfinding layouts. The large- and medium-scale modular patterns abstractly reference folding techniques, while a medium-scale textural tile/broadloom coordinate offers a simple, elegant base for pattern interplay.

The collection’s 12 colorways are drawn from Antron Lumena yarns, creating a corporate palette of solid neutrals that address cool and warm grays in light, medium and dark, as well as lovely neutral and navy-blue tones.

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Mannington Commercial introduces Color Anchor LVT

COLOR_ANCHOR_HEALTHCARE_CANOPY_SUGAR_GRASSY_COTTONTAIL_PEANUT_RBLCalhoun, Ga.—Mannington Commercial has launched Color Anchor, a bold collection of LVT that brings cohesion and coordination across the company’s full portfolio of flooring products.

The collection’s two patterns bring color cohesion by enabling designers to blend fields of color or accent pieces, experiment with exuberant bolds and understated neutrals, or use color coordinates and unite products from across Mannington’s incredible portfolio of commercial products.

Available in 20 colors as 18 x 18 or 12 x 24 tiles and 6 x 36 planks, Color Anchor LVT features a 20mil wear layer and 2.5 mm overall thickness. Mannington’s patented Quantum Guard HP technology is an aluminum oxide topcoat cured by an ultraviolet process, enhancing low-maintenance durability, cleanability and slip-retardance. The product has a 10-year commercial warranty and a 10-year Quantum Guard HP wear warranty.

The LVT collection builds upon Mannington’s 2016 launch of Color Anchor, a modular carpet system ranging from neutrals to brights, designed to unite patterns and colors across all Mannington running line products. Color Anchor sheet is slated for a December 2017 launch.