I’d say it was another great show, in spite of the turmoil and excitement happening all around us. This year, we’ve been hit with everything from the Coronavirus and the presidential impeachment trial, to be followed closely by the Super Bowl and the Iowa caucus. But none of it detracted from the success of The International Surface Event (TISE) this year.

TISE is where the industry comes together to celebrate innovation, network, share and sell, and this year, there was plenty of all of things going on.


One of the trends that defined the show for me was the focus on technology and the way it continues to transform the flooring industry. We saw a lot of advancements in new cores for waterproof flooring and new construction formats, as expected. 

Though it certainly didn’t help that the Coronavirus showed up at our doorstep, canceling flights from China, the luxury vinyl category also saw an influx in Chinese manufacturers trying to recapture some of their previously lost market share that migrated to other Southeast Asia countries as a result of the trade and tariff uncertainty we saw last year.

In vinyl, we saw a number of “new” entries, really mostly established manufacturers from other flooring categories adding luxury vinyl to their offering–and there were a lot of them. It seems everyone wants in on the action, and given the outlook for the category, there will be plenty of opportunity all around.

Hardwood Goes Waterproof Too

In hardwood, we saw a continued focus on reactive finishes and Old World looks, but we also saw an expansion of waterproof hardwood flooring that we saw hit the market in earnest beginning last year.

One of the most interesting parts for me was the variety of formats–some relied on veneers over polymer cores, others were impregnated natural hardwood. It’s sure to add to the confusion we’re seeing from retailers trying to sell this stuff and consumers trying to understand it all, but I think it is a positive development. While we know that consumers are drawn to hardwood floors and wood looks, manufacturers have taken a beating lately, and these developments may help them hold on to share as they compete more effectively in this space.


One area that saw a lot of impact from developing technology was on the installation side. With so many new formats, new core materials, and a growing number of installers adding luxury vinyl to their skill set, manufacturers have responded with a variety of new materials, as well as installation guidelines and support. It seemed clear to me that these suppliers not only see opportunity but are also doing their share to pitch in and address the installation issue in any way they can.

Luxe Carpet

There wasn’t a whole lot new going on in carpet, other than the continued growth of color, pattern and texture. However the high-end offering seemed significantly expanded. Mohawk had a strong showing for its Karastan brand and specialty mills also had a lot to offer in this area. Yes, carpet continues to lose overall share, but these trends are helping it remain a viable component in the overall home furnishings market.

Getting Stoned

With the Surfaces portion of the show seeming to be consolidating, we did see a lot of growth and expansion on the tile and stone side, including equipment suppliers. I know that kept the editors of Floor Trends’ sister publications plenty busy keeping up with it all.

By the looks of it, stone seems to be growing (granted, a lot of it is hardscape) but even stone looks in ceramic and porcelain tile were on a tear. High-definition printing certainly has helped manufacturers create stone looks in tile that are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. MSI definitely took a leading role at the show with its wide offering.

Style and Design

Celebrity designer and television host Jennifer Farrell was on hand to talk about trends at the show’s Style Hub at the DISH, a series of installations that showcased high-style and design trends in home furnishings. It was definitely an eye catching and eye opening part of the show floor.


One area that I have not paid a lot of attention to in the past (because of so many ongoing responsibilities and activities at the show) was the very robust educational offering provided by Informa. This year, I got to take a closer look and saw significant interest and participation across the board. A friend of mine, John Simonson, reported more than 100 attendees to an 8 a.m. seminar. Michelle Swayze, senior marketing manager at Informa, also confirmed how successful the education component of the show was this year. She was very proud, as she should be. Nicely done.

Even here, technology made its presence felt as several seminars focused on social media and marketing, as well as evolving installations systems.

As for celebrations, Piet Dossche of Shaw, COREtec and USFloors was inducted into the World Floor Covering Association Hall of Fame and it couldn’t happen to a nicer or more deserving guy. But he wasn’t the only one worthy–Shaw’s Vance Bell was also recognized. These two men have undoubtedly had a profound impact on our industry and frankly, we are all indebted to them for their many contributions. Kudos, gentlemen.

Then, of course, Mohawk once again hosted its annual bash right on the show floor and by the looks of it, everyone was there!

To me, TISE is the industry’s most significant event for getting together, for learning, for sharing and yes, for buying. The show has weathered ups and downs over so many years, but always seems to come out on top. This year was no different. TISE was once again a big winner.