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Made in the USA: U.S. production trends to watch

April 30/May 7, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 23

By Lindsay Baillie

Approximately eight in 10 American consumers say they would rather buy an American-made product than one that’s imported, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey. This is great news for manufacturers already in the U.S. manufacturing game as well as those just now entering. What’s even better is the same survey found that over 60% of consumers are willing to pay 10% more money for American-made goods.

U.S. manufacturing is important to the U.S. economy because it not only has the potential to increase business growth, but also add value to the power of the country’s economy and is an essential component of gross domestic product (GDP).

When looking at U.S. manufacturing trends, domestic production was actually a larger component of the U.S. economy than it is today. Products made in the U.S. drove approximately 11.7% of economic output in 2016. Back in 1970 it was 24.3%. This change, experts say, is the result of multiple factors, including a shift to a service-based economy, growth in the healthcare sector and the high U.S. standard of living—to name a few.

Despite this decrease, U.S. manufacturing is currently the largest in the world, producing 18.2% of the world’s goods, according to Kimberly Amadeo, author and president of worldmoneywatch.com. While U.S. manufacturing is still on the rise, it is continuously threatened by high operating costs, which provides an advantage to other countries. For example, China is currently producing 17.6% of the world’s goods.

One major benefit to producing goods in the U.S. is it is easier for manufacturers to reach the North American market, proponents say. In fact, according to a survey by AlixPartners, 37% of manufacturers prefer the U.S. precisely for this reason. Interestingly, that percentage is the same for suppliers who prefer Mexico.

Looking ahead, manufacturing is forecast to increase faster than the general economy, according to Amadeo. Production is estimated to grow 2.8% in 2018 and is expected to slow to 2.6% in 2019 and 2.0% in 2020.

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Five design trends inspire Couristan’s 2018 collections

Fort Lee, N.J.—Inspiration comes from every corner of the world, according to Marlys Giordano, creative director at Couristan. For 2018, it’s all about incorporating color, global-inspired prints and recycled materials to provide a sense of well-traveled, trend-aligned design for the home.

In the company’s first-ever trend report, Giordano identifies five key trends that have inspired many of Coursitan’s new area rug collections, introduced at AmericasMart in Atlanta in early January, and further showcased during the Las Vegas Market.

Following are the five trends:

Shock value. This trend combines vibrant hues, utilized in unexpected applications, giving classic pieces an updated feel. The rugs that answer this trend blend bold motifs with of-the-moment color stories, resulting in classically-modern styles.

Work ethnic. Tribal in feel, this trend draws its inspiration from patterns found in Africa, India, Vietnam and beyond. Utilizing a warm palette, the colors balance beautifully with the neutral foundations found throughout this trend.

The naturals. Cultivated from organic elements and natural fibers, the naturals trend is clean and light—visualize a sunlit living room in whitewashed detail.

Wandering eye. Wanderlust is an ideal word to describe this trend, which is inspired by exotic locations like Morocco, Mexico and India. Wandering eye is influenced by visits to the souk and local markets to uncover all of their hidden treasures—vibrant fabrics, pierced lanterns, painted wood, carved talisman. Combining these elements, the feel is strikingly colorful, with bold geometric shapes and even bolder color palettes. Metallic accents, painted wood and recycled fabrics make this trend feel exotic and eclectic.

Hygee fresh. Hygge (pronounced “Hoo-Ga”) is the Danish art of happy living. It embodies everything that makes a home warm, cozy and inviting to friends and family. This trend incorporates a soft color palette and textural elements that exude a sense of inclusiveness and nesting.

Two area rugs inspired by these trends recently received Magnificent Carpet Awards for Best Design in the Hand Knotted/Flat Weave category (Karuna design from the newly introduced Om collection), as well as the Outdoor category (Toluca in Iris from the Xanadu collection). In addition, variations of these trends will be utilized across a newly developed offshoot—Couristan Rug Studio—set to launch later this year.

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Mannington in lockstep with design trends

Product development process feeds off cues in fashion, home decor

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Reginald Tucker

 

Salem, N.J.—At Mannington no product is brought to market without the requisite research, forethought and consideration of retailer needs and consumer trends and designs. FCNews got a glimpse of that extensive creative design and development process at work at the company’s in-house design showroom at its facilities here during a special Surfaces product preview event.

Presented here are some of the highlights across several product categories.

Adura Apex
Rooms that are prone to spills and wet messes can still have the look of wood (plus the exceptional performance of a luxury vinyl tile) with Mannington’s new Adura Max Apex. “Our Adura Max Apex floors deliver the look of real wood with formats that include wide widths and long lengths as well as variable widths and lengths,” said Joe Amato, vice president of residential styling. “This mix of renewed classic and on-trend designs capture the essence of real wood in ways we once could only imagine.”

Apex Adura debuts in six new colors: Aspen, a rich, refined European Oak design; Chart House, which conveys a shiplap design; Hilltop, a traditional reclaimed hickory look; Hudson, an urban chic visual; Napa, a character oak design with a classic European ceruse finish; and Spalted Wych Elm, a versatile design in 8 x 72-inch planks that easily transitions from traditional to contemporary settings.

Luxury vinyl sheet (LVS)
What’s old is new again, so the expression goes. Mannington’s Revive LVS collection gets three new looks that feature updated spins on classic and vintage looks, including floors with highly decorative surfaces.

“Mannington floors are designed to be lived on,” said Terry Marchetta, director, residential styling. “Our new sheet vinyl collection reflects that philosophy by marrying style with easy maintenance in our interpretations of on-trend looks in home design.”

Designs include: Oceana, a modern spin on classic Carrara marble; revive tapestry, a fresh take on classic decorative tile; Versailles, inspired by the well-traveled pathways of the iconic French palace for which it is named; Millcreek, inspired by reclaimed timber found in an old grain mill; and Patina, which delivers the authentic look of naturally aged concrete in easy-care LVS style.

Laminate
Mannington’s confidence in the mature but still relevant laminate category is reflected by its commitment to bringing retailers products that provide trade-up opportunities. The company aims to do just that with the latest additions to its Restoration Collection.

Highlights include: Hillside Hickory; already one of Mannington’s best-selling hickory plank designs, this line spins contemporary, creating a floor that works well in modern farmhouse and neutral Scandinavian settings, according to Cristen Del Bove, senior stylist. Then there’s Palace Plank, which combines the timeless beauty of wide plank European white oak with state-of-the art technology for a floor infused with authentic color, texture. Lastly, Palace Chevron is a look that dates back to 17th century France.

Hardwood
Mannington’s already extensive hardwood lineup gets a quintet new designs this spring. Additions include Carriage Oak, which captures the essence of worn painted wood from vintage carriage houses but in an updated, contemporary color palette; Foundry Hickory, which features subtle wire brushing enhanced by a triple-stained effect; Tribeca Oak, which offers a refined urban look with subtle wire brushing and multiple stain layers; Cider Mill Hickory, which combines the charm and nostalgia found in a vintage cider mill. A unique hand staining technique showcases the natural color variation, ranging from light to dark, on each plank; and Cider Mill Oak, which captures the spirit a of wood found in old mills.

 

 

 

 

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Ceramics of Italy present top tile trends for 2018

New York, N.Y.—Ceramics of Italy has gathered the top tile trends dominating the booths at Cersaie, the world’s largest exhibition of ceramic tile and sanitaryware furnishings. Following are the top 10 trends.

Botanical. While floral designs have been around since decorative tile was invented, botanical is a new trend reflecting two movements in the design industry. The first is a focus on health and wellness and the incorporation of the natural world into interiors. Meanwhile, the influence of tropical modernism has seeped into interiors and product design, which can be seen in this year’s abundance of palm, cacti and other flora-inspired patterns.

Deconstructed. Tile companies are constantly seeking new ways to add movement and volume to the flat surface, whether by texture, pattern, or tromp l’oiel effect. Deconstructed is the most recent example, featuring a breakdown and reconstruction of shapes that transcend the traditional rectilinear format of a tile.

Earth tones. Color palettes range from dirt, clay and sand inspired browns; forest, moss and grass-like greens; red and golden tones reminiscent of the sun; and shades of blue to evoke an oceanic feel. This trend has become popular partially due to a revival of 1970s style along with a greater focus on mother nature and its ability to create a sense of natural serenity.

Globalism. Designers and brands frequently look to other cultures for inspiration, which are exemplified in this year’s tile introductions.

New typologies. While some companies recreate the look of wood or stone to an impressive degree of realism, others mix different materials or handpick certain characteristics to form a whole new typology. This fusion of material-looks and themes result in a surreal, imaginative interpretation of tile and a potential new language for interior design.

Nostalgia. People often look to design for an escape and in this current political climate it’s unsurprising that companies are turning to the past to bring people a euphoric boost..

Painterly. There is an overarching softness and romanticism in the design world today with gentle curves, washes of color and the unmistakable touch of an artist’s hand. Tile is no exception with this year’s collections featuring hand painted patterns, sketches and illustrations, marbled effects and watercolor designs.

Pastels. Moving beyond the celebrity of millennial pink, shades of blush, lavender, sea green and pale yellow can be found in dozens of floor and wall tiles. Less saturated than primary colors, pastels create a light, soft and calming effect, which dovetails with a few other trends from this year from Painterly to Nostalgia.

Terrazzo twist. Already a popular trend in interior design and fashion, terrazzo started popping up in the tile industry last year and has grown to become a potential new mainstay, on par with marble, wood and concrete designs. Dozens of designs are now available ranging from cement to epoxy terrazzo, traditional to modern colors and glossy to matte finishes.

Weathered. A departure from the soft, romantic effects of the other trends, weathered is a style with staying power. From stones with scratch marks and colored rustic planks to rusted tin tiles and oxidized metals, these tiles mirror an ongoing fascination with unfinished spaces, worn surfaces and vintage effects.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wood: Anticipating trends is the key to successful product development

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Reginald Tucker

 

Fashion trends come and go, but hardwood flooring installations are designed to last for many years. For manufacturers, that poses a challenge: How to accurately forecast color/style design trends several years in advance of actual product rollouts?

“The biggest challenge is always developing a product inspired by a home fashion trend that’s too early for the market,” said Joe Amato, vice president, residential styling, Mannington. “A perfect example is the color gray. We followed gray-colored hardwood products for years prior to introducing the color in the United States. As the color family started to become popular in furniture and cabinetry, we knew it was time to launch it in hardwood. The gray story was popular in Europe and Canada well before becoming popular in the States.”

When attempting to accurately forecast hardwood flooring color trends and patterns, many stylists and designers look to take their cues from the fashion industry. But it’s important to remember that one dress doesn’t fit every Betty; with wood flooring, patterns, colors and styles are still largely a function of regional tastes. “Regarding fashion and hardwood trends, it is not so much about design and patterns but more about color,” Amato explained. “A perfect example would be the popularity of warm grays in flooring as well as fashion. Wood flooring trends have a bigger connection to regional trends more so than fashion trends. An example would be areas of the Midwest region still supporting refined rustic looks while sections of the East Coast now moving to urban looks that are not so rustic and have less character.”

The ability to accurately forecast trends goes well beyond shades or stains. “As well as color we follow wood formats, surface texture, wood species and surface gloss, and we try to time the development to the market needs,” Amato said. “You don’t always need to be the first, but you need to be ready to respond when the timing is right.”

Manufacturers across the spectrum are working hard to do just that. Beyond color, suppliers are taking into consideration changing trends relative to product format, i.e., engineered vs. solid. As Michael Bell, general manager, hardwood, Armstrong, explains: “The dynamics are different in solid vs. engineered. In engineered we see much of the growth occurring on the bookends of the market, with significant increases in the opening price point/value engineered products and the best/premium sliced- and sawn-face engineered products. Solid is similarly seeing increased activity on the best/premium side of the market.”

Other executives still see the pendulum tilting toward engineered. “From a product level, we’re seeing continued growth in engineered hardwood sales as the industry shifts in preference from solid to engineered hardwood,” said Drew Hash, vice president, hard surface, Shaw Floors. “This shift is happening for a variety of reasons, namely due to engineered hardwoods’ versatility and enhanced performance story. We also see great opportunity in high-end hardwood products for next year.”

Some manufacturers believe growth will be driven by products that successfully combine innovation in aesthetics and performance, which are the No. 1 and No. 2 factors driving consumer demands for hardwood. “On the design side, we see trends moving away from more rustic to more refined visuals and the continued shift to wider and longer plank sizes,” Armstrong’s Bell noted. “On the performance front, scratching remains the primary concern for consumers shopping for hardwood.”

That’s a trend that suppliers don’t see changing anytime soon. “While we believe the bulk of customers desire the authenticity, permanency and unique beauty of a real hardwood floor, performance factors may drive them toward wood-look flooring options,” Bell added. “At Surfaces 2018 we will be launching a brand new collection of solid hardwood, Appalachian Ridge, with Diamond 10 Technology. We originally applied this proprietary technology with our LVT flooring and have now expanded it to hardwood. By providing enhanced scratch and stain resistance, we are addressing one of the key performance attributes that is important to consumers: durability.”

Hardwood manufacturers point to another trend that stands to impact future product development: The popularity of sawn-faced veneers in the production of engineered floors. “We expect wood flooring will grow at about 6% in 2018, and the continued popularity of wide and long boards will fuel most of that growth,” said Don Finkell, CEO, American OEM. “We’re seeing the continued growth of sliced veneer faces over rotary-peeled veneer faces along with more complex finishing techniques—technologies at which we excel.”

American OEM is not the only company seeing increased demand for sawn-faced product. Mohawk, which recently expanded its Melbourne, Ark., plant, is banking on it. “We have built the largest sawn-faced plant in the United States,” said David Holt, senior vice president, builder and multi-family. “We have also added a brand new cold press to the line. We believe we have come up with a better product that’s more dimensionally stable than other hardwood floors on the market.”

One of the first products to roll off the new lines at the Melbourne plant is Mohawk’s new Vintage Elements collection—an offering that reflects “Old World” styling in a family of six wire-brushed, cerused oak species. Boasting a high-fashion color palette, Vintage Elements comes in a 7-inch-wide, ½-inch-thick format in random lengths up to 6 feet.

Others are also looking to capitalize on the sawn-face craze. Mullican Flooring, known for its innovative approach to manufacturing, has expanded its American-made engineered product line with two new collections, Wexford and Nature. Wexford, a “Euro-sawn” line, combines three traditional North American sawing techniques to create a classic European look. This 1⁄2-inch-thick product is offered in 7-inch widths and random lengths up to 7 feet. The collection’s prefinished version is available in six selections of white oak.

“We have mastered the Euro-sawn cutting technique, which produces a highly desirable look that is gaining prominence throughout the market,” said Pat Oakley, vice president of marketing. “We are proud to integrate this process into our robust Made-in-the-USA portfolio, which offers customers superior materials, shorter wait times, sustainable manufacturing practices, and premier beauty and quality.”

 

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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: 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.”

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In Style: Numerous factors shape product design

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

 

There’s no denying the correlation between trends in the fashion industry with home furnishings, especially when it comes to flooring. Manufacturers routinely employ teams of design professionals and stylists charged with the daunting responsibility of predicting the “next big thing” in terms of colors, patterns and even textures long before trends solidify.

But what—and even who—determines and defines style direction is largely based on the beholder. While overall global trends certainly play a key role in product development for consumers in the North American market, it’s largely up to the individual manufacturers to interpret those trends and apply them to their respective offerings.

For this special ‘Style & Design’ issue, FCNews rounded up several manufacturers and asked them how they exemplified style in their approach to product design. In short, what makes them style leaders in their respective categories.

Following are some examples:

Bamboo Hardwoods
Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.44.18 PMBamboo Hardwoods analyzes industry trends and incorporates these cues with environmentally sustainable products that emphasize style and differentiation. Known for quality bamboo products since 1995, Bamboo Hardwoods’ offerings are well respected by those who prefer using environmentally benign products that are elegant, long lasting and constantly on the cutting edge of design trends. Owned and operated by a team of flooring and bamboo experts, Bamboo Hardwoods’ flooring sets the standard for beauty and durability throughout the industry.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.44.24 PMInhaus
Inhaus was founded on the pillars of style and innovative design. Thanks to its highly skilled design team and state-of-the art design center, North American-sourced materials are produced into stunning, ready-made flooring. Inhaus is proud to work closely with its designers and master carpenters from concept to finished design to develop new textures and colors. Exciting new design ideas are generated from continuous research into color and home fashion trends from around the world that are adapted for North American markets. This attentive design process supplies its retail customers with a curated collection of beautifully unique and exclusive products.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.44.30 PMMannington
To be a consistent styling leader in the flooring industry there needs to be a collaborative effort between multiple departments within the company. At the company, styling, R&D and manufacturing work together to drive innovation and quality along with the right aesthetics to provide high-styled products to the consumer.

Styling leadership starts with doing the proper homework, researching design, color and home fashion trends. Developing flooring product lines requires not only a creative perspective, but also factors in the technical know-how in manufacturing a quality product.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.44.45 PMMercier
On top of developing state-of-the-art textures and colors, Mercier allows its customers to go even further into customization by offering the most extensive range of glosses and grades. Mercier is the first—and still the only prefinished hardwood flooring manufacturer—to offer a gloss as low as 10 degrees across its product line. Character marks, gloss and hues are in direct connection with the look of the product, and this is why Mercier makes it a priority to develop products that can be adapted to any style while keeping in line with the current design trends. Case in point is Mercier’s white oak Fjord, the ideal color for consumers who want a gray floor but still keep their home warm and inviting.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.45.08 PMMohawk
For almost 140 years, Mohawk has crafted quality flooring for the American home. Mohawk builds innovative design into all its products to make life better—and provide customers with the best flooring possible.

As the world’s largest flooring company, Mohawk and its family of brands offer unlimited style and design options with the latest in on-trend colors, exceptional durability and highest quality from an array of flooring categories. Also, Mohawk is more committed than ever to American-made manufacturing and the communities and families it impacts daily, which means peace of mind that all products are manufactured safely and responsibly.

This style approach helps Mohawk provide the foundations for homes around the world.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.45.52 PMQuick-Step
Quick-Step has taken the latest trends in flooring and translated them into elegant looks that are both stylish and durable. This means that Quick-Step’s LVT and laminate floors are not only beautiful, but also made to last.

This balance is evident in product design and development. Quick-Step’s laminate and luxury vinyl floors all look stunningly authentic with the most true-to-nature looks on the market today. Though ultra-realistic looking, with moisture-resistant technology and innovative dimensional stability, they can still withstand the everyday wear and tear of an active family.

Now that’s style—for life.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.45.58 PMShaw
Shaw’s product designers look at the way design elements speak to the larger lifestyle image that consumers want to project. “Our homes reflect our personalities, and flooring is just one piece of an overall aesthetic consumers desire,” said Pamela Rainey, vice president soft surface product development. “It needs to complement paint color, furniture and accent pillows, etc. We are creating a canvas for consumers to live their lives.”

The crafted patterns of Shaw’s Natural Bouclé, for example, are as exquisite as sisal, with subtle color variations that highlight their natural hues and offer the ultimate texture and softness. Shaw’s Epic Plus Extreme Nature furthers the ever-expanding trend of longer, wider planks and its timeless hardwood visual.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.46.07 PMTarkett
Tarkett is an organization that interacts and shares with design and product colleagues throughout a worldwide creative and manufacturing community. Tarkett provides solutions worldwide for multiple categories and cultures. It is a unique advantage that gives the company an awareness of timely new information and perspectives that will influence the way we live and see.

Tarkett strives toward understanding the relationship between life, the workplace and societal interaction. Through these goals and efforts, the company delivers products that have an existential connection—communicating rather than simply decorating. These tools go beyond servicing its customers to build an enduring connection as creative partners.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.46.14 PMUSFloors
USFloors’ COREtec offers today’s retail consumer a floor that can truly be lived on. The vast assortment of decors, visuals, plank widths and lengths, along with its patented construction, makes COREtec the go-to brand in composite waterproof flooring.

USFloors’ process of selecting visuals spans the globe. The company is interested in what’s new and different. USFloors is known for having the most impressive visual choices, a result of its extensive selection process. The visuals range from natural to eclectic and will match the style of any environment. This allows consumers to enjoy beauty and strength without the maintenance while enhancing their home or work space.

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In Style: From fashion to flooring

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

By Reginald Tucker

 

You’ve heard it time and time again: “We’re not in the flooring business; we’re in the fashion business.” Whether we consciously realize this, it seems to play itself out not only in the development of various flooring products that aim to reflect current or impending style trends but also how flooring designs are influenced by broader trends across the home furnishings spectrum.

FCNews reached out to several design professionals, manufacturer stylists and other experts to help illustrate the connection between flooring and fashion.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.38.47 PM Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 12.38.40 PM

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Trendspotting: Green design dictates style direction at NeoCon ’17

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4
By Rebecca Blasdel

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.23.47 AMChicago—NeoCon 2017 can be viewed as a success based on traffic alone. Show organizers put attendance just north of 50,000, a 7% uptick over the prior year (FCNews, July 3/10). But brisk traffic and sold-out showroom space weren’t the only major takeaways from the show. Exhibitors and attendees alike were equally impressed with the vast array of new products, styles and designs on display.

Many of these new looks, observers say, will set the tone for the development and design of commercial interior spaces across North America and—in some case—around the globe. Seemingly everywhere you looked showrooms and booths were packed with an array of architects, designers and facility managers—all looking for products to specify for projects booked for the coming year. All commercial segments were well represented, with a particularly heavy focus on LVT.

On the whole, exhibitors expanded their full range of products to meet end-user demands for greater efficiencies via single-source supply. “All segments in the commercial interiors market were strong,” said Byron Morton, vice president, leasing, NeoCon. “The flooring companies all showed innovative resilient products in addition to traditional broadloom and modular carpet.”

Following are some of the design trends/new products that stood out at the show:

Biophilic design dominates
The overarching trend of designing healthier, greener and more sustainable spaces was palpable at NeoCon. This was reflected in the way nature itself influenced many of the designs, patterns and colors on display. Architects and designers are creating spaces that incorporate natural materials, a greater use of natural light and improved views of nature.

Many exhibitors are taking their design cues from Mother Nature. Examples include the inspirational trip that Mannington’s design team took to Portland, Ore., or the way Mohawk Group was inspired by how the lichen grows (hence on the new collection based on the same name).

In the Mannington showroom, for example, designers created an intricate paper sculpture of Portland designed by architect-turned-sculptor Christina Lahan. Her forest—made of white paper—demonstrated all the design inspiration used for the various collections based on nature and wood (paper).

Roby Isaac, vice president of commercial design, described the idea behind the exhibit—eco-friendly designs that are both respectful of and derived from the environment. “Paper is a low-ounce, low-profile product that’s made of Econyl so it has a recycling story. By making it with that fiber, and by maintaining a low price point, we were able to make it more of a budget-sensitive product. We wanted to do a well-styled product with a low price and low pile.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.24.00 AMMeanwhile, Mohawk put the emphasis on Lichen, the first floor covering to achieve Living Product Challenge Petal certification (FCNews, June 5/12). The team at Mohawk and McLennan Design were inspired by the naturally occurring, brightly-hued organisms because of the regenerative role they serve in the ecosystem. According to Mohawk Group, 6% of the world is covered with lichen, which boasts more than 20,000 species.

Mark Page, Mohawk Group’s senior director of creative design and development, explained the inspiration behind the design. “When we started developing Lichen, we found that it takes its food from water vapor. When there is pollution in the air, that is when you start to see lichen die. When you see it in abundance that means the air quality is very good.”

According to Page, this provided both the green story for the product as well as the colorways and patterns. For Mohawk Group, he said it was important to develop a collection that would give more resources back to the environment than it uses during its entire life cycle.

Bringing the outdoors inside
Other major exhibitors showcased new products inspired by nature. Bentley revealed the Outskirts collection, which consists of three styles: Outlier, a bold metallic geometric weave; Ritual, which resembles a high-end wool and references branches; and Coexist, meant to complement all Bentley styles inside and out of the new collection. Todd van der Kruik, vice president of design for Bentley, described the motivation for the theme. “In ecology, edge effects refer to the changes in population or community structures that occur at the boundary of two habitats. As the edge effects increase, the habitats allow for greater biodiversity.”

The entire collection, he noted, has a moody feel that exemplifies the place where nature and neighborhoods meld into one another. “As we watch the continued expansion of the edge effect that exists between work and home, we sought to figure out how to help seamlessly support those traveling in between—to encourage diversity, growth and evolution by connecting our environments in new ways. The Outskirts collection explores these boundaries even further.”

In that same vein, the Tarkett space—which included the Johnsonite and Tandus Centiva brands—reflected the popularity of biophilic design. The More Than Wood line of LVT products takes on a whole new approach to wood-look flooring by minimizing repeats typically found in other hard surface products designed to mimic the real thing.

According to Terry Mowers, vice president of design, North America, the company was able to achieve this look through a combination of image scanning techniques and special treatment of the original source material. This approach, according to Mowers, emphasizes the magnificence of wood and all its character.

Natural elements were also evident in new products showcased at the Shaw Contract booth. In search of inspiration for new looks, designers foraged for naturally occurring patterns, taking hundreds of photographs of stone, ancient marble, moss, etc., which were then used to create a series of broadloom products that work together in harmony. The result was Off The Grid, a highly customizable system meant to mesh well with other materials.

Not to be outdone, Interface unveiled Global Change, a new collection that pairs biophilic design with the modular systems for which the company is known. The introduction—which includes soft, mineral-based colors weaves and prints modeled after natural occurrences—marks the first global launch created by lead product designer Kari Pei, who explained the inspiration behind the collection. “When you go for a walk through the forest, the earth changes—it goes from a hard, cracked surface and then as you progress the sun has sort of dappled through the leaves, creating a shadow play. You get to the edge and it’s a little softer.”

Interface also unveiled a prototype for the Proof Positive carpet tile, which it claims is the first carbon-negative carpet tile. After the tile is made, there is less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than if it had not been manufactured in the first place, according to the company.