“Around 2008, all the corporate projects pretty much stopped,” said Daniel Effenheim, an associate at Plunkett Raysich Architects, an architectural and interior design firm in Milwaukee. “We have definitely seen a resurgence. We are getting back to a strong economy and it’s igniting companies’ desire to use their space to attract the best and brightest of the employee pool.”
As business continues to rebound and companies are able to expand their teams, there is a need for expanded and revitalized workspaces that not only serve as think-tanks, but meet the lifestyle aesthetic needs of the people who work in them.
“The economy is doing pretty well right now, and companies are having to find ways to retain and attract top talent,” said Anne Galmor, a product consultant at Intertech Flooring in Texas. “One of the ways they are doing that is by providing fun and inviting workspaces. We are seeing companies selecting multiple styles and colors, from multiple manufacturers, and incorporating them into patterns and accent areas. They are adding interest and fun with bright pops of color in carpet tile and other flooring finishes.”
With these trends of bright colors and various textures, the days of using just broadloom in corporate spaces are long gone, according to Galmor.
“Carpet tile has almost completely replaced broadloom. At this point, I only really see broadloom used in executive offices—and they are selecting high end, plush products,” she said. “Typical selection is a neutral carpet tile all over, with accent areas in bright pops of color.”
As carpet tile grows as a flooring category, the opportunities it provides in shape, color and texture are seemingly endless.
“Carpet tile design is maturing and options beyond square are emerging including rectangles, hexagons, rhomboids, parallelograms, etc.,” said Carl Willmann, studio manager, interior design at Ware Malcomb, an international design firm. “Carpet tile has embraced pattern, texture and color. As designers, we have new exciting flooring design opportunities. We can now create large patterns with combinations of patterns, texture and shape and sizes.”
According to Willmann, today’s corporate flooring trends speak sophistication across the board. “Most every flooring material has become more sophisticated in many ways,” he explained. “The range of innovative designs, sizes, colors and patterns offer many more opportunities for designers.”
Willmann and his team are using larger planks; more larger format porcelain tile emulating stone patterns; exposed concrete; vinyl wood-looking planks, and porcelain wood-like tile in their design projects.
For Joe Dwyer and the folks at Dwyer Marble & Stone Supply in Farmington Hills, Mich., bigger is better these days. “We are seeing larger format materials—all the way up to 5 x 10-foot slabs on the floors. Bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger.”
More important than following trends is making sure a space’s flooring meets its functionality, as flooring needs vary among spaces, locations and functions—and that’s just in corporate settings. It’s the same for all industries.
“If you’re doing something in a medical environment,” explained Tammy Rafferty, Midwest sales representative for tile maker Jeffrey Court, “you’re going to see more porcelain.” Carpet, she feels, “is going to be very difficult to keep clean and sanitized in the work place.”
Creating Inviting Spaces
“The corporate space has become much more than a place to work,” explained Effenheim. “Now that corporate business has picked up again, we are seeing people design spaces that are more than just an office. They are really seeing the corporate space as an expression of their brand.”
Aside from just serving as a place to work, more and more companies are using their corporate buildings to meet their employees’ lifestyle needs with things like fitness centers, lactation rooms and more comfortable eating spaces.
“Speaking to employee retention, amenities are important—like the fitness centers and expandable cafeterias—which are becoming working cafes,” said Effenheim.
According to Willmann, the influence of residential, hospitality and industrial design play a major part in designing today’s comfortable and accommodating workspaces.
“Residential, hospitality and industrial are the new ingredients we mix into our corporate workplace design stew,” he said. “Possibly due to a sudden realization that we spend more time in the workplace than we do at home, awake, or the unavoidable influences of a generational shift in the workplace, we now want our offices to be interesting, stimulating, collaborative, nurturing, healthy, etc.”