A new vinyl floor covering that mimics the look of hardwood and can even double as upholstery will be among the hot new items vying for attention at the 19th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. Widely regarded as one of the most important design and interior furnishings events on the East Coast, this year’s gathering will include at least five floor makers showcasing new designs. The four-day show, which is open only to the trade for the first three days, begins Saturday, May 20, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Among the 650 exhibitors expected will be Chilewich, InterfaceFLOR Commercial, Lonseal, Merida Meridian and Porcelanosa. Though flooring exhibits will make up a relatively small portion of the show, those attending said it offers them wider exposure to an audience expected to include more than 23,000 architects, designers, retailers and distributors this year.

            “We consider ourselves a design-focused company, and that is why we’re going to be at ICFF,” notes Carrie Kabat of natural fiber flooring maker Merida Meridian. The Boston-based company plans to launch several new lines at the show, including two new Jacquard Sisals weave collections and Woodstock, an innovative flooring range that combines twisted weaving paper with wool fiber for high-style, all-natural looks.

    According to Karen Rowe of the textile and flooring maker Chilewich, attending the show is an obvious choice for her company. “The audience is made up of our customer base,” she says. “It’s a natural place for us to exhibit.”

            She adds that the company is launching a unique textile texture called Wood Grain at ICFF. Designed to mimic the look of plain-sawn wood, the woven vinyl textile is offered in four colors and can be used as flooring, wall covering and even upholstery for furniture. Rowe says the company will stress the versatility of the product and “celebrate the textile” at its exhibit.

            The ICFF will also offer several comprehensive educational programs. Included will be “Design Entrepreneurs: Rethinking Energy,” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 21. This full-day conference is slated to include presentations and discussions from some of the world’s leading designers, manufacturers and developers. The conference will focus on the importance of the burgeoning green movement as well as new ways of approaching design.  It is offered free to all ICFF attendees and is CE accredited. For more information, visit www.icff.com.