Floor Trends checked in with leading commercial manufacturers and the design community to find out what’s currently at the forefront of commercial design.
Trends Across Commercial Spaces
When it comes to commercial spaces, although some trends are shared across the board, designers and manufacturers are reporting a variety of trends that are unique to different sectors of the segment.
“Different sectors have different trends right now,” said Melissa Quick, commercial product and marketing manager for Novalis Innovative Flooring’s AVA LVT brand. “For instance, in office space, it’s about ‘bringing the outdoors inside’ with natural touches, plants, and coziness. Also, designated lounge areas, mixing textures and flexibility are important.”
As companies continue to transition toward more open workspaces, they are relying heavily on interior design to help create more comfortable, creative and collaborative environments for employees.
“From a product design perspective, we are looking at design with a purpose,” said John Crews, corporate senior designer for Shaw Contract. And according to Crews, designing with a purpose means contributing to both physical and mental wellness in the workplace. “We are trying to address how to make people happy in open office environments, and we feel like products can energize and motivate people.”
Understanding that a product as simple as carpet can transform how people think and act in an environment, Crews and his design team drew inspiration from active wear to create Active—a commercial product line that promotes and supports activity and movement in the workplace.
“[Active] was directly inspired by active wear,” said Crews. “The reason we chose active wear is because we thought about how it influences people’s different modes of activity, like yoga, cycling, cardio. So, we really did a study of pattern and colors and introduced these bright, almost glowing colors that we felt brought different types of activity into the workplace. We have a bright, citron green that’s energizing and we have a melon color that we feel brings a lot of optimism and strength into an office.”
Creating unique commercial spaces by way of design doesn’t stop in the workplace. According to designer Cory Grosser, creative director and owner of Cory Grosser + Associates, open, communal spaces are also now a welcomed addition in multi-family housing. “We’re seeing trends in multi-family housing mirror workplace/office trends, in that it seems to be all about embracing communal spaces. Individual apartment sizes might be going down to maximize real estate, but residents seem willing to give up personal square footage for shared amenities and the opportunity to connect with their neighbors.”
As multi-family construction steadily increases, manufacturers are developing products to add a more personalized feel to these shared spaces, and to appeal to the demand of the urban demographic.
“New construction is on the rise, however we’ve noted a definitive resurgence in renovation as more and more owners are responding to an increasingly competitive environment as well as shifting direction to appeal to an aesthetically demanding urban demographic,” said Ginger Gilbert, director of product design at J&J Flooring Group.
According to Larry Browder, CEO of Karndean Designflooring, this means a movement toward more industrial materials (or simply the look of them) like concrete, steel and exposed brick in corporate and multifamily environments.
Mark Strohmaier, vice president of marketing for the Milliken floor covering division, said, “We continue to see a lot of pent-up demand in a variety of segments, and we expect to continue to see the corporate and hospitality markets flourish. The influx of population growth in urban areas is driving multifamily building construction, while Baby Boomers are driving the growth in senior living.”
While the urban demographic and millennials are enjoying more modern interiors—be they minimalistic or industrial in design—more traditional home-like looks continue to trend in senior living environments, as the demand for them increases.
“In senior living, we’re seeing more traditional looks used to create a more homelike atmosphere,” said Browder.
Arguably, the desire for a more home-like look and feel in senior living environments can be attributed to seniors’ preference to age in place.
“The senior living sector continues to have a steady climb,” said Gilbert. “Especially notable is the demand for state-of-the-art memory care as well as short term or respite care facilities. As aging in place still continues to be a preferred option for many seniors, the need for localized short-term care becomes increasingly necessary. The option to recover from an injury or illness close to home and loved ones while receiving top notch care in a nurturing facility is a trend that we’ll see more of in the near future.”
The Role of Flooring
Flooring continues to play a major role in these and other commercial spaces. “The floor plane continues to become more intricate and complex to be specific to each customer’s unique needs,” said Strohmaier. “Designers are embracing the floor plane as a canvas, whether it is infusing pops of color to integrate branding or incorporating wayfinding throughout the floor layout so that it becomes innate to those who use the space.”
According to Gilbert, the holistic flooring approach is key right now. “The idea that a flooring manufacturer can focus on making well-designed, quality flooring alone is no longer relevant. Manufacturers must now also think like or take cues from those in the A&D community as it relates to designing/development for total space. We can’t simply develop and launch a singular product without also developing support products that not only coordinate aesthetically but also address the functionality and performance needs that occur throughout an entire facility.”
While open spaces are being enjoyed, controlling noise levels in these environments can be challenging. “Noise has become a challenge in open offices, therefore, acoustics have become a priority,” said Strohmaier. “With limited workstation panels and walls to capture unwanted sound, flooring is an ideal acoustic solution.”
As collaboration unfolds, noise levels increase, and Gilbert says in some cases, walls are going back up to combat these issues and provide a balanced environment. “This time around, glass or translucent walls replace traditional solid walls in order to provide acoustic barriers while at the same time allowing for open sight lines that provide a visual connectivity and a continued sense of attachment to an overall team or department.”
On the floor, to further aid in keeping noise levels at bay, products like Milliken’s unique open-cell cushion backing reduces noise and provides a necessary acoustic barrier. Similarly on the hard-surface side, Karndean’s floating floors ranges (LooseLay and Korlok) each feature impressive Impact Insulation Class (IIC) ratings.
Designers are mixing both hard and soft surfaces and utilizing colors and patterns to achieve their desired design outcome in commercial spaces.
“Overall, commercial designers are turning to neutral colored floors, and moving away from cool grays towards warm taupes, as can be seen through the color palettes in our new LooseLay Longboard and Korlok product ranges,” said Browder. “In terms of visuals, designers are looking for a mix of character grade and finer grain detail, and natural weathering effects.”
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) continues to be a top choice for designers due to its design and performance properties. “We like to use flooring transitions to define different areas within a space,” said Grosser. “That said, we’re particularly impressed with LVT right now. The faux wood plank products on the market are so realistic looking, it’s a great option for clients who could never have real wood floors.
Making hardwood, ceramic tile and natural stone looks possible for a variety of projects and budgets, LVT is expanding the possibilities of flooring looks and design capabilities in commercial applications.
“At Novalis, we believe the growth of LVT should be the report highlight, said Quick. “The commercial market is discovering the practical and beautiful advantages of LVT in any number of situations.”
According to Robert Langstaff, director of design for Metroflor Corporation, LVT’s capabilities are driven by advancements in technology, sustainable practices and manufacturer’s desires to push boundaries.
“Technology, sustainability and the drive by leading manufactures to push the boundaries are transforming LVT to levels not thought possible five years ago,” he said. “Design and color trends will always follow fashion and textiles, but this product development is changing what is and will be possible to do with LVT.”
Flooring is one of the largest interior planes to incorporate eco-friendly elements, according to Strohmaier. “The definition of sustainability is broadening and meaning more things to more people,” he said. “Instead of focusing on any one dimension, such as recycled content, customers are seeking a holistic balance of sustainable properties, from a product’s components to its longevity. Focusing too heavily on any one element can compromise other integral aspects of environmentally friendly products, including longevity and performance.
For designers, an increase in sustainable product is making their jobs much easier.
“It used to be that as a designer you often had to choose between the sustainable option or the option that best fits the design intent when selecting materials,” said Grosser. “Now, most manufacturers have a sustainability story behind their products, which is great to see.”
“Sustainability has always been on the minds of designers and consumers, but not until recently do I think people have had a real desire to see that transparency of the companies they work with,” said Linsay Bittinger, a Shaw Contract global designer.
Partnering with designer William McDonough, Shaw Contract has reintroduced its A Walk in the Garden product line, which is a collection that helped pioneer the Cradle to Cradle product standard.
“William is a big leader in sustainability and also the Cradle to Cradle process,” said Bittinger. “That collection was originally launched in 2003 and it was one of our first collections that featured our EcoWorx backing and our Eco Solution Q. This collection really helped to drive that development of the Cradle to Cradle certification process.”