As the world's leading trade fair for carpets and floor coverings, DOMOTEX (Hannover, Germany) will soon once again be putting the spotlight on the sector's latest trends and applications. For the fourth consecutive season, DOMOTEX exhibitors were invited to submit innovative products and developments for inclusion in the prestigious Innovations@DOMOTEX display to be featured at the show from 14 to 17 January. A jury of professionals chaired by Munich designer Stefan Diez has selected 38 finalists from the entries submitted in the following categories: Textile and resilient floor coverings including fibers and yarns, parquet and laminate flooring, as well as applications and installation technology. Innovations in the category "modern handmade carpets" will be selected separately by experts from the international design and carpet sectors.

"We have seen some exciting products that stand out thanks to creative and smart approaches. Of course, there are also some existing products that have been given an innovative and exciting twist by means of clever product development", explained Stefan Diez. The jury's choices were based on technical innovation, design concept, quality and relevance for the target group.

Coming soon to a floor near you...

The innovations chosen by the jury reflect current and emerging trends for both residential and commercial settings. The jury of experts from the fields of design, architecture, the media and interior design soon made out a clear trend towards sustainability as a major selling point, and a recurring theme across all entries. A lot of emphasis is also being placed on products with a natural look and feel, whose textures, materials, motifs and surfaces take their cues from nature. Individuality also remains a key trend. As Manfred Haverkamp, an interior designer based in Herford, Germany, pointed out: "The possible variations are endless."

Natural-looking products are also a big trend in wooden flooring, as is the creation of interesting visual effects by combining diverse colors, patterns, shapes and textures. "In addition, longer and wider dimensions and herringbone-patterned flooring are trending", remarked Karl. A. Wildermuth, editor at Holz-Zentralblatt in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany.

The vintage, rustic look with knots and cracks has lost none of its appeal. "I was struck by many products having a rough appearance and making use of reclaimed materials. Wooden surfaces retaining raw and natural traits give rise to pleasing tactile and three-dimensional effects and offer the sensation of taking a walk in nature", remarked Manfred Haverkamp. Laminate flooring is also becoming more and more technologically sophisticated and versatile, while at the same time featuring increasingly realistic decors.

Natural patterns and organic surfaces continue to dominate the scene. "It is often astonishing to see the extent of what is technologically possible. Also in the case of carpeting, the trend towards natural authenticity is everywhere to be seen, with some designs even imitating tree bark and other natural surfaces", observed Simone Knauss, editor at SCHÖNER WOHNEN, Hamburg. Tile and plank flooring are also gaining ground.

Sustainability in conjunction with improved application and laying techniques is also at the top of the agenda, and this is giving rise to products that "save time and can be installed without any potentially health-endangering aspects", explained Norbert Berndt, director of Raumgestaltung Vespermann, Moringen. "Many of these products are easier to use, and also offer benefits in terms of durability and improved footfall dampening", added Berndt. Richard Kille, director of the professional association IFR Institut für Fußboden und Raumausstattung Köln, pointed out: "Flexibility, mobility and modularity play a big role in floor coverings. The application and fitting of contemporary products is quicker and easier, solvent-free, sustainable and more environmentally friendly. Modern systems are making it easier and quicker to lay floors."