The global perspective
VMRD connected with GLOBAL RETAIL DESIGN CONSULTANTS to understand the priorities of retailers and designers in selecting retail flooring materials. Design, durability and green building initiatives impact the trends in flooring material. Here’s what some international renowned design consultants say about latest trends in floor covering and the importance of this silent yet strong element in design :
Ken Nisch, Chariman – JGA
Generally, retailers prefer hard surface today, moving away from soft, high maintenance and short-wearing materials. Materials such as polished concrete, sometimes stained, sand blasted or embellished in some way is becoming an increasingly popular flooring option from trendy youth oriented brands to fashion and designer brands. Eco-friendly retailers are looking at materials not only as being sustainable in terms of initial source, but also reusable and recyclable in terms of second life use. Traditional materials such as cork, new bamboo, composite materials, and flooring products made out of crushed and recycled glass, metals, etc. are gaining interest. In many parts of the world, cleaning is done by the store personnel, and the ability to have it easily cleaned is a consideration while choosing flooring materials. Market conditions such as dust and dirt, inclement weather, and even the nature of the products that might be sold within the environment, are the factors which should be considered while choosing the flooring material.
Angela Kreutz, CEO, Blocher Blocher India Pvt. Ltd
Flexibility has become very important for retailers and the wish for a quick and easy floor installation goes along with this trend. Also, the possibility to just replace individual areas is not only economically reasonable but also in an ecological sense because less waste is produced. We have seen that the worldwide supply for sustainable material is increasing constantly. This includes natural material like wood or stone as much as synthetic floor coverings which are recyclable. When you look at the planning process, it is of utmost importance to find the right material for the different areas. Private spaces, for example, should contrast with the street or the outdoor areas and convey naturalness. For example, by using warm wooden flooring on which we then lay down a real wool carpet. For the retail sector it’s important that the floors are durable and fit to the superior concept and brand.
Alastair Kean, Group Director, Dalziel & Pow
We have been advocating the use of flooring as a backdrop to the products and display, a more monolithic approach, which allows departmental flexibility and future proofing. This does not stop a more radical approach wherever appropriate. For example, we have seen the use of metal floor tiles and the juxtaposition of traditional timber inlayed patterns into a concrete screed. As for sustainable floor covering materials, we do encounter problems of supply and not just from an environmental perspective. We are spoilt for choice in Western Europe and going internationally creates issues.
Mary Klie, Materials Specialist, Chute Gerdeman
Clients and consumers will always want high performance in the areas of durability, stain resistance, low maintenance as well as low cost. But huge trends both nationally and internationally are sustainability factors and hard surfaces. We have seen carpet manufacturers take on new lines of Luxury Vinyl Tile in everything from wood looks to concrete and abstract and, as manufacturing processes evolve the ability to weave in sustainable properties to any flooring product are more obtainable. Some sustainable options that are available world-wide include engineered wood planks, specialty and reclaimed wood flooring, recycled content porcelain tiles, terrazzo mixed with earthly aggregates, even resilient vinyl sheet flooring is sustainable, and we can't ignore the earth friendly cork option. Most issues with flooring come from the product not being installed correctly. A lot of flooring needs to acclimate to interior environments, and require special adhesives, special sealants and curing times always vary. It is a very competitive market; my biggest piece of advice would be not to be fooled by green washing. Make sure to do your homework as a designer and specifier and make sure the product is as quality and as sustainable as it claims to be. Learning from the global design fraternity indicates a lot of commonality in the criteria for investment in flooring across the globe. Also issues that brands, retailers, designers and manufacturers are dealing with overseas and locally are fairly similar hence making it easier for all to find solutions. Finally, it's heartening to learn that all the stakeholders are collaborating to deliver customer centric design, products and installations that jointly make it possible for customers to experience world class brand and store experience in any part of the world!