Commercial interiors in 2019 are taking a human-centric design approach, incorporating bold colors and patterns, emphasizing wellness, and offering designers more variety and flexibility to create comfortable, beautiful environments.
“Visual and physical ergonomics are playing a significant role in every commercial sector, which it’s making us fall deeper in love with design,” said Daisy Diaz, product designer, Beauflor, who gleaned a lot from NeoCon 2019. “Textile and carpet colors spanned from original prime colors to a muted version of them — they were nicely complemented with clean multifunctional furniture, natural wood colors, and LVT tiles/planks.”
Technological innovations are creating major inroads for many flooring manufacturers.
“Now there’s more flooring choices,” said James Lesslie, president, Engineered Floors’ commercial division. “The breadth of the flooring selection is different, but everyone wants to make their own statement on design. That hasn’t changed. LVT has made inroads, but there is still a lot of flooring going in that is going to be carpet. We want to continue to drive innovation into soft floorcovering. If we can make soft floorcovering, like Kinetex, have different features and benefits, then the shrinkage of soft floorcovering will slow down.”
Mohawk Group is also making investments in technology, with launches like Relaxing Floors, a modular system that combines art, science and human-centered design based on fractal patterns, which scientific research shows have stress-reductive qualities.
Ginger Gilbert, vice president of creative, Bentley, said designers are starting to ask for low ounce weights, with equates to lower price points, and yet the designers still want to make a great first impression. “While they don’t want to be force-fed groups of products, they are asking us to put products that coordinate together in a book; products that group together and are more friends than family.”
Commercial product designers are innovating towards the industry of wellness, which has been the fastest growing market since 2017, according to Diaz. Wellness promotes health and wellbeing for the human experience.
“As humans, we are not wired to sit for over 15-plus hours in front of a screen,” she said. “Our eyes are drawn to natural organic shapes and natural lighting. Therefore, the usage of organic forms is being used throughout carpet tiles, LVT tiles, and textiles. A visual concept that every exhibitor had in their showrooms.”
Introduced at NeoCon, Tarkett now launches Interleave modular carpet from designer and collaborator Jhane Barnes. Interleave provides a calming effect that resonates in many commercial environments, including corporate, healthcare, and higher education spaces.
The ingredients in flooring are also emphasizing wellbeing. The Tuflex brand of sports emphasized the importance of floors free of “Red List” chemicals at NeoCon 2019.
“Creating Tuflex flooring Red List Free means the floor covering is free of all red list ingredients that can have an impact on the health and well-being of people who live and work in buildings,” said Ann Dougherty, general manager of sustainability, Roppe Holding Company.
A Need for Privacy
After decades of open-plan office spaces, it’s become obvious that many employees don’t like them. While a lot of company owners hoped that no walls would encourage collaboration, what’s happened is employees dying for some privacy.
“At this NeoCon, the idea of transforming the open office and providing quieter, more private spaces prevailed,” said Robert Langstaff, Metroflor director of design, in his design recap. “I saw a return to more discreet work areas, such as partition rooms within open office layouts, for a sense of retreat that is more conducive to creativity and productivity.”
As a result, Metroflor looked at new technology that would enable defining these new privacy areas while creating better acoustical qualities in the office. The company’s new Attraxion Magnetic Technology enables prefabricated partitions to be placed and flooring installed to define these respective areas. While the vinyl tile is a quiet and comfortable hard-surface flooring and more comfortable underfoot than other hard surface flooring, if someone wants to personalize their own space, Attraxion makes it easy to change things out at an affordable rate.
“A lot of the workplace is working towards, ‘How can we help people feel comfortable, how do we reduce stress through the way we work designs?’” said John Gittrich, vice president product management, Tarkett North America.
Layers and Texture
With hard surface taking over interiors, there’s a need for softness, texture and some alleviation of acoustics to dampen noise in loud interiors. For this reason, rugs and inset rugs are taking off in commercial environments.
“We’re getting a lot more requests for rugs,” said Gilbert. “Being able to do rugs is exciting; It doesn’t limit you, so when you’re designing for carpet tile, you have to be mindful of contrast and cutline and making sure that everything is straight. But with rugs, sky’s the limit.”
While rugs can go as large as can be—as long as there is a qualified installer onsite who can seam the rug perfectly in a large space—the issue is becoming maintenance.
“When a rug is put over a porcelain, stone or even an LVT floor, maintenance ends up beating up those rugs pretty badly. You have to think about the binding.”
J+J Flooring Group’s Fabrications, a carpet tile collection, celebrates the artistry and complexities of handcrafted textiles. The J+J design studio explored the similarities and differences in the journeys of textiles and carpet, from fiber to yarn to backing and finishing. Each of the three patterns in Fabrications draws inspiration from the textures, patterns, and finishes that are unique to the textile-making process.
Patcraft introduced a resilient collection that emulates the look of fabric.
“Our Handloom styles are designed to optimize large and small-scale spaces where a resilient tile with vibrant color accents can provide sophisticated character,” said Shannon Cochran, vice president of creative and design for Patcraft. “The texture within this collection is rich, with eye-catching color and natural details that complete a compelling design.”
Flexible Flooring Collections
Spaces of today and tomorrow no longer serve a single purpose. They are a reflection of the people who occupy them and the activities that take place within them. As the needs of communities change, both locally and globally, communal spaces are becoming more fluid and flexible, more layered and diverse.
In response, Shaw Contract introduced Community, a collection designed to work together in harmony. Each of its four core products complements the others, giving designers unlimited options to meet the demands of the new commercial environments.
“Community speaks to the challenge designers face to create spaces that offer choice and flexibility, one where everyone feels free to exchange ideas, create a shared culture and connect people,” said Reesie Duncan, vice president of global design. “The result is a community of products that are as unique and diverse as those inhabiting them.”
Teknoflor launched the Coordination Collection, coordinating resilient sheet, planks and tiles designed to enhance the organization of different elements of a project so as to enable them to work together more effectively. From patient rooms to corridors and offices in-between, the collection includes six products with unique yet collaborative visuals in compositions.
“The Coordination Collection was designed to solve a problem in healthcare, which was the polarization of sheet and tile,” said Ellie Priester, director of marketing, Teknoflor. “We understand that sheet and tile both have their place and their function. We designed the Coordination Collection that are three different products and things that are actually made in both a sheet and a tile format and made it coordinate. So, in all of these, you can move from sheet to tile without the need for a transition strip.”