Tiles featuring surfaces made from pressed Alpine hay, linoleum with ground cocoa bean shells, carpets with a lustrous metallic effect made from recycled fishing nets, royal parquet with geometric brass inlays and a wooden planking system that can move house with its owners. With a great deal of creativity and many clever solutions, the industry proved once again that taking a close look at the latest trends in floor coverings makes for a rewarding experience. With their visionary ideas, young design talents provided another inspirational highlight.
A Look at the Latest Trends in Floor Coverings
Once again, the largest international trade fair for high-end flooring, innovative materials and new technologies has proven to be a fascinating showcase of the latest international trends in the industry. DOMOTEX 2017 presented a global audience with an amazing array of innovative products.
Distinctive wooden flooring: herringbone, 'used look', dynamic patterns and individual pattern mixes
Herringbone patterns are a major theme this year. Besides elegant solid wood flooring reminiscent of historical examples, but featuring wider elements that are easier to lay (Baltic Wood), the herringbone pattern comes in new looks, for example in high-contrast combinations (Design Parquet, FB Houtdistributeur). A large selection of luxury herringbone designs can also be found in laminate and elastic flooring (Beaulieu International, Forbo Flooring, m-Flor, Style IT Fischgrät). Natural woods and wood-look designs with dynamic patterns or with visible signs of usage that define the unique charm of these 'used-look' surfaces are also on the up (Havwoods, Golvabia, Maderera Río Acre, Pacific Woods).
Furthermore, tropical woods from trusted, certified sources are beginning to replace oak. While the majority of flooring is still being produced from oak, it will be impossible to meet the constantly increasing demand with this type of wood. Like all other product categories, wooden flooring comes in such a wide variety of colours, formats and forms that there are no limits to creating individual pattern combinations to meet personal tastes.
Glamorous: metallic lustre fibres and precious handcrafted rugs
The fitted-carpet segment dazzles the viewer with subtle metallic effects, creating playful interactions of light and shadow. Environmentally-friendly Econyl, a recycled material made from used fishing nets, creates surfaces with a subtle, metallic lustre, featuring stripes or geometric patterns with a silver, bronze or golden sheen that lend the floor a three-dimensional, luxurious look (Aquafil, Hellsten Flooring, Tapibel).
Precious and lustrous pieces of art can also be found among hand-knotted rugs, mainly made from silk or from silk in combination with other high-end materials, such as finest wool. Created by master artisans, most of these unique pieces feature imaginative landscape motifs whose magnificent expression changes with the incidence of light, resulting in luxurious, lustrous textures (Choudhary Exports, Dana Lawrence, Hossein Rezvani, Sterling Rugs, Studio Beate von Harten, Tissage, Wool and Silk Rugs, Zollanvari). At the other end of the spectrum, there is a trend for natural tones reminiscent of the shades of sand, stone and earth.
Natural look and sustainability are trumps: nature-inspired surfaces, environmentally-friendly designer flooring and creative recycling
Natural look and sustainability are the common themes found in all product groups, from elastic flooring to carpets and to wood and laminate flooring, as well as in application and fitting techniques that increasingly boast lower solvent levels.
Elastic flooring with natural wood-look surfaces comes with a look and feel so close to the real thing, it’s hard to tell the difference. This is due to rapid developments and improvements in printing techniques: extra-wide print films allow the creation of typical wood colour contrasts and striking patterns, almost like those found in naturally grown wood. Additionally, deep embossing can be precisely matched to the pattern of the wood, giving rise to very beautiful, durable and easy-to-clean flooring with the warm feel of natural wood (Designflooring, Earthwerks, Eurotrade Flooring, Falquon, Le Louis Enterprise, Unilin). Increasingly more products in the elastic flooring, designer flooring and fitted carpets segments are produced sustainably and in environmentally-friendly ways by using recycled materials and substances that do not harm the environment (Balsan, Classen Holzkontor, Fletco, Floorify).
Adding natural waste materials from other industries, such as ground cocoa-bean shells, rice husks or hand-cut Alpine hay constitutes another trend (Forbo Flooring, iDecking, Li & Co).
Geometric and graphic patterns for striking floor designs
Small or large, geometric and graphic patterns are given a leading role when it comes to flooring. There are no limits to the imagination. In the carpet and fitted-carpet segments in particular, there is a huge selection of colourful patterns or subtle tone-in-tone designs, featuring high-end materials that match the most varied interior styles: circles and circle segments (Rug Star, Universal Carpets and Rugs), triangles and lozenges (K. Stamatopoulos), checkered patterns and squares in many different varieties (Girloon, Samur Carpets, The Piccolo Group), as well as elaborate graphic structures (Festival, Rug Art International, Tapibel). Asymmetrical waves or exuberant 1970-style patterns make for eye-catching floors in modern homes (Hanse Home Collection, Mannington Mills), while, for the more traditionally inclined, there is a large variety of oriental designs. In the wood segment, too, geometric patterns lend the floor an individual and luxurious note (Abovo Wood, Golvabia and many more).
Simple, versatile and environmentally-friendly: fitting without glue
There are many innovative and user-friendly developments in the area of glue-free fitting techniques. They are environmentally-friendly, reliable and also quick and easy to apply. A popular method for glue-free fitting of laminates and designer flooring is the patented L2C click system from Unilin, which more and more companies are using for their products (B.S. Bauprogramm, BVBA Swanflor Europe, Kastamonu, m-Flor, US-Floors).
Furthermore, manufacturers are developing their own innovative click systems with resource-friendly recycling materials (iDecking), or systems that allow temporary use (Parchettificio Garbelotto). With special coating on the reverse side, planks and tiles can be fitted and individually exchanged using a loose-lay technique that needs no connections (Designflooring, Le Louis Enterprise, ONEFLOR-Europe, Piccolo Group). These systems are complemented with practical aids to prepare the floor such as non-slip or sound insulation underlay (Earthwerks, Katz, Selit Dämmtechnik, Pater). A great plus in comfort is offered by new magnetic fitting systems or by systems using a unique micro suction cup technique (Virag) that not only allows quick and secure fitting, but also equally quick removal without causing any damage.
Future flooring trends – young design talents present their visionary ideas
Five resourceful design studios from five different countries present their individual visions of the future. As part of the new Young Designer Trendtable concept, they have developed future-oriented flooring conceived to go beyond today’s products. Hanne Willmann from Berlin focuses on a new authenticity in flooring and wants to strengthen appreciation of traditional craftsmanship. Therefore, she involves artisans in the implementation of creative solutions, for example by fitting pieces of carpet into specific areas of a groove-shaped wooden floor in order to create soft zones that define a particular usage area.
For Klaas Kulken the future of flooring lies in the user being able to constantly change the surface. To demonstrate the concept, he fits tile-like elements on foam strips. If you step on them, the tiles tilt a little sideways, briefly revealing a light fitted underneath. Bilge Nur Saltik (Turkey and UK) combines both hard and soft and industrial and craft floor coverings. The transition between the different materials is created without glue by recesses at the end of one material interlocking with the matching shapes from the adjoining material. Victoria Wilmotte from Paris presents a new look for stone flooring. She reinterprets the traditional materials of stone and marble by using synthetic resin to create innovative tiles from pieces of these materials. Grouting, which has, up until now, constituted a rather disruptive element, is here used as a focal and connecting aspect and is additionally emphasised by strong colours. Jane Briggs' and Christy Cole's vision takes inspiration from Kurt Schwitters' Hanover Merzbau, an installation covering an entire space at his home, its floor, walls and ceiling. The herringbone parquet designed by the Glasgow-based duo is also suitable for all surfaces of a room. It is digitally printed with a graphic pattern reminiscent of parts of Schwitters' Merzbau. The pattern creates a three-dimensional effect and can be personalised according to the user's preferences.