Drawn into their homes as a refuge from an unsettled economic and political landscape, consumers are staying indoors more these days and spending their disposable dollars on cozier, softer interior designs and furnishings. Cognizant of this mindset, resilient flooring manufacturers continue to bring to market products that reflect the consumer’s desire for natural looks and comforting textures.
According to Mary Angela Kenney, general manager of product styling and design for Armstrong, the resilient market is seeing customers looking for “a mix of unique styles and colors” in natural textures. Along with the mainstay looks of wood and ceramic, resilient flooring consumers are developing a taste for futuristic visuals such as metals -- particularly those that evoke the appearance of wrought iron and stainless steel.
In response to this consumer preference, Armstrong offers its Patina Collection of vinyl luxury tile. Among its selections are Flat Iron Windswept Bronze, Treadlock Wrought Iron and an industrial, sand-colored design called Industria Florida Sand. In these looks, concrete, burnished metal and stainless steel are being reinterpreted for a warmer, more residential feel.
Kenney says that wood-motif resilient products are transitioning to the look of exotic species. Tropical woods and materials such as sisal are popular, she says. Additionally, natural stone and ceramic visuals are transitioning from cooler slates to warmer colors and textures. These soft, natural looks have established a foothold in the marketplace.
“Natural looks with earthen textures -- whether stones, ceramics or sisals -- are very popular,” says Kenney. “Linen looks, and other soft materials, are also popular.”
Armstrong’s Highland Park collection is available in a variety of natural colors and textures, including a linen pattern with a soft feel and texture called Linen Coral, as well as a tropical weave bamboo, beige limestone and natural maple looks. These designs are engineered with Armstrong’s new, exclusive MasterWorks Technology.
Mannington manufactures the Style & Pace Collection, which includes the Siena pattern. Siena features a 12-inch metamorphic sandstone look that features extensive detail and texturing. Styles include Volcanic Eruption, Funnel Cloud, Alpine Forest, Striated Canyon, Painted Desert, and Arctic Avalanche.
Soft, earthy looks are also popular, Amato says. Mannington’s Nairobi, from the Clean Getaway Collection, features styles meant to mimic sun-baked earth, in patterns such as desert sand, soapstone and canyon clay.
Amato feels that casual, warm decors are also on the rise -- including looks such as leather, sisal and linen, as well as cork and other materials seen in home furnishing accessories and products. The Napa Valley style from the Clean Getaway Collection, for example, features texture and details that emulate natural cork.
Finally, Amato thinks that large-format designs -- “whether natural, geometric, decorative or colorful” -- are making themselves known in the resilient market.
“The new looks in resilient not only coordinate with today’s kitchens and baths,” he says, “but are also finding their way into other areas of the home.”
George Graboshas, Domco Tarkett Residential vice president of styling, says the resilient market is seeing a heightened focus on what he terms “super-natural” looks. These looks include linen, leather and other materials that greatly widen the variety and selection of styles in resilient flooring.
“Going back to a natural route has a lot to do with the current socioeconomic happenings,” Graboshas says. “People are becoming a bit more insular -- they’re cocooning, looking for comfort from within. They’re spending more time at home with friends, family and so forth.”
As a result, he adds, customers want to “bring in the outdoors as much as possible -- as a bit of a reconnection to our roots.” Stone, ceramic and wood looks remain strong sellers, Graboshas continues, as well as resilient flooring products with full finishes and soft surfaces.
Tarkett’s Presence in Finestone includes unusual, soft stone textures with patterns such as Only Natural, Waterscape, Cottage White, Valley Green, and Sycamore. Other new stone patterns include selections in the Style Brite Collection. All of them feature soft visuals and subtle, natural colors. Oakmont, also in the Style Brite Collection, offers wood looks in Blond, Natural and Spice.
Mary Docker, CEO of Amtico International, says that color, texture and other design sensibilities are becoming deciding factors for resilient customers.
The look of crisp cream stones with hints of blue and green, as well as limestone, travertine and tumbled marbles, are making a surge in the market. Pale woods such as ash and beech are also popular, she says.
Amtico has introduced new stone patterns and woods to its selection. The stones -- Perlino, Veneto Rosso and Sorrento -- are meant to complement Amtico’s contemporary stones and marbles. The woods -- Alder Plywood, Temple Cedar and Burnt Chestnut -- feature textured surfaces for selections in both residential and commercial interiors.
On the opposite side of the equation, modern, utilitarian looks are making themselves felt in the market -- including “sleek shiny steel, stained concrete and metal treadplates,” Docker says.
Amtico recently debuted its Urban Metals collection of vinyl tile. The collection features a palette of six modern metals, including Frost, Carbon, Platinum, Ore, Mineral, and Storm. Tiles are available in a range of sizes and feature beveled edges with a riven marble texture.
According to Thomas Trissl, president of Centiva by International Floors of America Inc., people increasingly are drawn toward natural looks, especially exotics such as fruitwoods.
“I think in today’s world, everything works. Designers and architects are more and more intrigued by patterns and textures,” Trissl says. “There’s a market for everything. Customers from 18 to 80 are looking for new things. There’s not a group that can be put into one certain niche anymore.”
Tony Sain, marketing manager for Lonseal, says another important development in the resilient segment is manufacturers’ efforts “to marry beauty and safety” in their flooring products.
“In terms of safety, flooring can make a big difference,” Sain says. “At the same time, the customer is always focused on beauty, on what’s interesting. Customers want functional things that still look pretty.”
In answer to this consumer demand, Lonseal has debuted Londura, a homogenous friction-textured floor designed to offer long-lasting slip resistance. The safety flooring is designed so that mops won’t shred, making for easy maintenance. Londura also features a traction-controlled, exclusive technology that increases its coefficient of friction when wet, making the vinyl slip-resistant under a wide range of conditions.