UK-Based Havwood International, an international supplier of engineered hardwoods, will be opening its flagship showroom in the Flatiron district of New York this summer. We recently spoke to Allan Singh, general manager of North America for Havwoods International, to talk about the trends in hardwood he’s seen in the market so far this year.
FT: What design trends are you seeing in the hardwood market so far this year?
Singh: This year we’ve noticed an increase in designers gravitating towards lighter tones, and because of that our Venture Plank in Fendi and Blanco have become much more popular. We have also noticed that painted products, such as our Relik Reclaimed Organic Painted Pine, have become highly sought-after.
FT: What's your outlook for the US wood market for the next year?
Singh: We’re anticipating an increase in the amount of large-scale projects within the hospitality and residential sectors that will continue through 2018. We expect this dramatic shift to lead to increased demand in the amount of wood flooring sourced across the different sectors.
FT: What are the challenges you see growing business in the US market? (Private label programs, lookalike products from other flooring categories like LVT, competition from major domestic players, etc.)
Singh: One of the main challenges is the vast amount of materials that are available on the market. Designers can choose LVT, tile, or carpet, if it is more applicable for the spaces they are sourcing product for. On the other hand, we’ve noticed that because wood is warmer, people will continue to choose hardwood over other materials for this reason.
FT: What is Havwoods point of differentiation?
Singh: We listen to our clients. We introduce new, fashion-forward products into the market every year. We do this by recognizing patterns and trends that designers are looking for and curate collections based off of market needs.
TF: What trends are you seeing in wood species and finishes?
Singh: We have noticed European White Oak become increasingly popular. For the finishes, we have seen more and more people gravitate towards UV oil and lacquered finishes.
FT: What formats/sizes are trending?
Singh: While we have noticed wider boards are more sought after, we do still have clients that prefer narrower planks for their projects. I think what it comes down to is the space that is being designed and the type of wood that would enhance the look and feel of that space.
FT: How are designs across sectors influencing each other?
Singh: The hospitality sector is influencing the residential sector. More and more residential designers are incorporating accent walls with reclaimed and printed products into their homes. We have also noticed that patterns typically found in hospitality spaces, such as chevron and herringbone, are being used in residences because they add character and charm.
FT: How do you approach recommending a product for a designer's new project?
Singh: When recommending a product for a designer, we first look at where the product is going to be used and what type of environment it is going to be used in. We look at factors such as the temperature of the location, the amount of traffic on the floors, whether or not it has underfloor heating, and more. Once we determine those factors, we ask what kind of color palette or pattern that the client is looking for and from there we match it with something from our range of collections.
TF: Can you talk about sustainability and your efforts in that arena?
Singh: At Havwoods International, we are extremely committed to sustainability and are very conscious about our impact on the environment. Sustainability is one of the core aspects of our business, and as a global company, we understand that we must lead the charge for green efforts. For example, earlier this year, we met with nine of the major mills that we work with and spoke to them about the importance of having sustainable product. Our goal was to ensure that all of the mills we work with move towards sustainability.