Hannover. A group of enterprising young interior design students from Hochschule Hannover (Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts) has come up with a stunning array of out-of-the box concepts for tomorrow’s floor coverings. The 14 students were asked to develop concepts that embody the DOMOTEX keynote theme of UNIQUE YOUNIVERSE, aka the trend towards product individualization. The ideas they have come up with fall into two broad categories: inspired by nature and modeled on high-efficiency natural processes and structures. Working in teams or on their own, they have developed prototypes that will go on display in the "NuThinkers" section of the "Framing Trends" showcase in Hall 9 at DOMOTEX 2018, which runs from 12 to 15 January.

Some of the prototypes being presented are experimental and visionary, while others are more focused on practical, real-world solutions. Among them are a carpet that purifies the air, a floor tile that changes color depending on the viewing angle, a floor surface made of beeswax, and a type of flooring that – thanks to an instantaneous chemical reaction – can be sprayed on and then "cooked" to return it to its original state.

Beyond this, the following four projects will be featured:

Superficious Heat
by Nele Ratjen

Inspired by thermoregulation in reptiles, this is a flooring system that incorporates a new approach to floor heating. Unlike conventional floor heating systems, which are hidden in the subfloor, this system is featured proudly as a design element that can be customized by the user. The result is a floor heating system that is highly individualized and easy to repair.

by Nina Düwel

What if floors could communicate with people and help them find their way around? That’s the kind of innovative thinking that lead this young student to develop a new type of navigation system for the blind. The system uses intuitive, universal symbols (e.g. for bathrooms, elevators, information areas) to give the blind and vision-impaired new freedom and independence. In this way, it provides help and guidance in situations where conventional signage and directory systems are of no use or are unavailable.

by Sarah Gerner and Johanna Kolb

Fairkorkt is a vegan, organic carpet made of tiny sequin-shaped cork shingles. Each disc can move and has different colors and surface finishes on each side. The result is a carpet that constantly changes in appearance as you walk on it and feels great under bare feet.

by Janna Marie Bombek und Franziska Roethemeier

Used as a wall cladding, charred timber is not especially new. But as flooring? These two students set out to develop a method to make this highly attractive material suitable for flooring so that they could bring the charred wood aesthetic indoors. On the way to achieving this aim, they conducted a series of truly inspired experiments. In one of them, they coated timber with molten glass, which charred the upper layer of the timber and then cooled to form a protective layer.

In addition to these product prototypes, the Hochschule Hannover display in the NuThinkers zone will feature a multitude of preliminary studies and experiments. The entire project is supervised by Professor Suzanne Koechert and Guest Professor André Nakonz.

The university’s Interior Design faculty offers an interdisciplinary program of hands-on learning aimed at giving graduates the best possible start in their chosen careers. The school has a strong focus on creativity, communication and analytical thinking. It gives its students a good grounding in materials, architecture and engineering and equips them with the skills they need to present their concepts effectively using digital platforms. Course projects range from public sector construction to corporate architecture and exhibition design. The school has a limited intake of just 35 students per year, which makes for a very low student-lecturer ratio and excellent education outcomes.