After more than a year of working remotely due to the pandemic, employees are starting to head back to the office. Management teams and specifiers are looking for new flooring that can refresh workplace interiors, and flexible solutions that are ideal in a range of settings.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen organizations make short-term decisions about their spaces in response to the pandemic, and what is happening at a specific point in time,” said Anna Webb, vice president of marketing and product development, Interface. “However, it’s critical that designers also consider the long-term goals for their spaces by focusing on flexible and adaptable solutions.”

Manufacturers have a surprising number of new offerings, and more are set to debut in the coming months. “Last year was a productive year for us. We launched fifteen styles,” said Victoria deVuono, vice president of marketing at Bentley Mills.

Bentley’s newest carpet collection, Off The Chain, features broadloom and tile options that mimic the look of wool, says deVuono. “The flooring in this collection has this beautiful simplicity, reminiscent of a chain stitch. It’s got a little bit of texture, and it brings in warmth. I think people feel more comfortable around these kinds of patterns and textures, because they seem familiar in a way.”

Indeed, expect to see luxurious touches that elevate the appearance of commercial-grade products without diminishing performance, Webb advises. “The Chelsea Estate carpet tile collection from Interface reflects this idea, with its timeless yet modern styles, which feature rich textures and a refined, grayscale palette.”

While gray obviously is still critical, deVuono explained that Bentley is offering more palettes to choose from, and that hues will have added depth. “Instead of brown, it’s more raisin. Instead of navy, it’s more blue with a touch of teal in it. There’s a little bit of movement from those core colors, but we’re also seeing more warmth. It’s interesting to see color come in. It was a rough year and I think there was a hunger for some optimistic visuals, and color is a part of that for sure.”

There are no set rules about using one type of flooring in the post-pandemic workspaces. Unexpected combinations are becoming more common, as designers look to create more interest underfoot. “I think people spent so much time in the past year looking at a lot of contrasting imagery for inspiration said deVuono. “And now, I think they want to pair everything that interests them. We’ll have an opportunity to see how they pull all of it together. We can do these seamless transitions. The vocabulary isn’t just pattern or no pattern. It’s hard and soft and kind of full and flat.”

The team at Interface continues to be proponents of biophilic design. “Biophilic design strategies are critical for supporting the physical and emotional well-being of building occupants, and flooring products that integrate the principles associated with this methodology continue to resonate with customers,” noted Webb. “We recently launched the Open Air collection, which offers a vast selection of flooring choices for open spaces—including organic patterns—at a value-oriented price point.”

Bentley’s staff remains focused on sustainability, influenced by their location in the Golden State, says deVuono. “We have a lot of goals that we set for ourselves, but because we manufacture in the state of California, we work under very different conditions from our competitors. There are a lot of codes that we must respond to that other companies aren’t subject to. But we also benefit from things, like a large percentage of the power that we get off the Southern California grid is green energy.”

She also noted that the company continues to expand its efforts, targeting transparency and accuracy. “Commercial specifiers used to be more aware of how materials affect the environment, and today consumers are just as knowledgeable. It’s just becoming the norm. We’ve actually spent some recent weeks really digging in to verify our metrics, and uncover things that we can be more articulate about.”

As we consider which products will best support our work, and the spaces we do our jobs in, the key is to experiment. “It’s about juxtaposition and thinking about the way flooring supports the other elements. We don’t have to choose, we have options,” deVuono added.