The products, of course, are always the star of the show, and this year promises to be no exception. As we assembled this issue we sorted through a mound of product releases and compiled a 20-page portfolio that includes some truly eye-catching, highly imaginative new products. One impressive example: A new luxury vinyl from EarthWerks called "Vintage Floral." The designers were so determined to make it look like real, beat-up old wood, they added itsy-bitsy little flowers that seem to be sprouting up here and there between the planks. It is subtle, convincing and even a bit whimsical.
It is also in keeping with a trend toward distressed rustic looks in resilient and hardwood floors that are made possible using new imaging technology. Mullican's new collection of prefinished engineered flooring has been machine-distressed and wire-brushed to perfection. It's called "The Frontier Collection." LG Floors has new sheet vinyl for its Naturelife line that is made with a glass fiber layer and reinforced construction for dimensional stability. It is called "The Rustic Collection."
And how about Mirage/Boa-Franc? They turned to nanotechnology-a breakthrough science that deals with materials on a molecular level-to come up with a hardwood finish called "Nanolinx." Even if wood flooring is as old as flooring itself, the engineers at Mirage managed to greatly enhance the durability while also finding a way to preserve the character and beauty of the natural wood grain.
These flooring makers know you can't get by in this competitive climate on good looks alone. You have to bring something else to the party. And that certainly goes for carpet too: Beaulieu of America is coming to Las Vegas to roll out its beautiful new "Fashion Essentials Collection." While they tout the 20 highly styled carpet products for their provocative new looks and intricate design patterns, the company eagerly adds they have "Magic Fresh odor destroying treatment" as well as stain resistance protection.
As for true innovation, Faus Group may have hit a home run with its FastDesign laminate planks. One piece can be used to create five different designs (i.e. herringbone, diamond...) depending on how the plank is positioned. This gives the laminate customer options that were heretofore limited to hardwood. It s huge breakthrough.
And let's not forget about giving the consumer options. Even in the commercial market, which understandably favors function over fashion, plain vanilla won't cut it anymore. Mannington Commercial is bringing out three new styles-Color Canvas, Modern Wear and Terry Cloth-that come in 45 colors. And if that is not enough custom colors can be ordered.
That's just a tiny sample of the ways Surfaces exhibitors have advanced their products. But breaking new ground doesn't just mean coming up with better ways to cover it. One of the most enticing efforts to simulate consumer interest can be seen at the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) exhibit. An initiative called "Creating Your Space" will give WFCA members a shot at consumers in their neighborhood who use the web to pick out flooring they like (and probably never saw before). It not only positions the trade organization as the "honest broker" of information, it builds on a well established platform and gives specialty stores another tool in their belt.
And that, as you will see while wandering wide eyed around the cavernous show floor, is what Surfaces is all about: Take a good product and make it better, take a great product and make it outstanding. And this is why it is hard to walk the show floor without stopping to admire the handiwork.