NeoCon 2011: Innovative products take center

HomeInside FCNewsNeoCon 2011: Innovative products take center

CHICAGO—As the commercial market continues on the comeback trail, NeoCon 2011 served as the landscape for many flooring manufacturers to roll out new products, concepts and directions.

Mannington Commercial, for example, unveiled a litany of products, all collaborations with outside designers. One in particular was the Best of NeoCon Gold winner Vivendi Collection, a heterogeneous vinyl sheet developed in conjunction with world renowned design firm HOK and fabrics manufacturer Pallas Textiles.

“This collection brings fashion to the heterogeneous category,” said Jack Ganley, president, Mannington Commercial. “Most of what you have seen mimics wood or stone. Here we were looking for more of a textile look.”

Vivendi is targeted toward healthcare projects. It performs with the low maintenance and high durability needed in heavy-traffic environments.

Mannington also tapped the expertise of Korean industrial design group Ryan Harc for two collections. The firm brings a global perspective on trends and design concepts, which resulted in the Equinox Collection combining visual fields of light and shadow with the use of grids and gradients. The second collection, QR, offers carpet with coordinating LVT that allows for functionality on the floor.

“We are excited about the way we are pulling together all the categories and offering a choice of strategy to the marketplace, coupled with the strides we have made in product innovation, both from an aesthetic and functional perspective,” said Tom Davis, Mannington’s CEO.


Jeff Krejsa, vice president of marketing, was talking up Color Essence vinyl enhanced tile, the first Azrock collection under the Johnsonite brand. The line has been color coordinated and integrated to work with products not only within the Azrock brand but also the full Johnsonite portfolio. Color Essence offers 51 colors with six coordinating slip-resistant, tone-on-tone particle visuals.

The line also has a strong sustainability story. Each tile contains a minimum of 6% post-consumer and 23% pre-consumer recycled content. It also has a strong maintenance story over standard VCT: Only two coats of wax are required and then standard spray buff maintenance after that. “So it has a premium aesthetic with a much better maintenance program,” Krejsa said.


John Wells, president and CEO, Interface Americas, told FCNews he was very excited about Raw, the latest pattern from designer David Oakey inspired by natural distressed concrete floors and stone materials. It is a pattern evoking an aesthetic that aging often yields. The inspiration for this new modular carpet tile design was organic deconstruction. A strong variance in coloration and mottled tonal effects is another hallmark.

The sustainability story centers around 100% recycled yarn that combines reclaimed carpet fiber with salvaged fishing nets. When InterfaceFlor’s GlasBac RE non-virgin PVC backing is factored in, Raw contains a total of 79% recycled content.

Raw is also an i2 product, which means it random installs and offers mergeable dye lots. Wells believes Raw will be specified for corporate environments.


According to Tom Lape, president, Mohawk Residential and Commercial, this NeoCon was very important for the company as it presented itself as one Mohawk. “The customer values independent brands, but it’s the Mohawk brand that unifies the entire message to the customer and allows us to offer a package of different technologies, product attributes and design schemes to be a more complete resource to the customer.”

New this year under the Lees brand is What Moves You?, a modular and broadloom carpet manufactured with bio-based SmartStrand Contract fiber. Featuring seven cut and loop patterns evocative of the natural environment, What Moves You? offers a palette of 11 colorways. The line is also CRI Green Label Plus certified, and its recommended adhesives meet the most stringent rules for VOC emissions.

Lace It or Leave It from Karastan Contract is a contemporary broadloom and modular interpretation featuring whimsical designs and a vivid piece-dyed color palette, resulting in trendy yet timeless appeal. Comprising three large-scale patterns and 24 colorways, Lace It or Leave It delivers depth and dimension to contract interiors. Modular offerings incorporate a new dye level with contrasting luster levels and coordinate with the collection’s broadloom designs. Unibond Flex offers durable performance and is produced with 15% recycled content. Modular products are backed by The Mohawk Group’s 100% thermoplastic, PVC-free backing system.


Marc Ahrens, North American sales director, Antron, said business through the first half of 2011 has been stronger than expected. “I think our market share is increasing and our opportunities expanding. The segments we have been strong in, like corporate, became strong in the second half of last year and has carried over. We also do a good job in high-performance segments like restaurants, retail and public spaces—environments where our high-performance story matters.” Specifically, Ahrens cited the investment Invista is making in its product portfolio and branding. “We are reinvigorating the Antron brand as design leaders and design inspirers. We are expanding TruBlend fiber technology and working with R&D to improve the product. We introduced finer denier, white dyeable fiber under the Antron Legacy brand, which allows mills to get more creative and introduce more colors. It’s another crayon in that giant crayon box. We have an array of fiber offerings that allows the design community to design their space and deliver the ambience because of the tools we deliver.”


The Change Collection, which captured the Best of NeoCon’s Editor’s Choice award in the Modular Tile category, offers three styles using Tandus’ revolutionary Sero design approach. The result is purposeful variations with colors, patterns and textures that now flow, pool and shift from tile to tile culminating in a unified floor design. “This collection in particular demonstrates the infinite possibilities for design that Sero offers—each modular installation will be as unique as the space where it’s installed,” said Tom Ellis, vice president of marketing.

Glen Hussmann, president, told FCNews he believes Change will have mass appeal across multiple segments. “This product is already getting specs. The visual is an end-of-run, random phenomenon. It’s actually a recognition of what our customers were pulling out of throwaway bins.” The product also offers Tandus’ proprietary ethos backing.


Bluestone and Main Street are a pair of introductions the company is most excited about.

Bluestone, reminiscent of Pennsylvania Bluestone, offers very subtle, fossil-like impressions, according to Laurie Lyza, director of marketing. “It allows designers to make a statement without taking a big risk. And it won’t compete with other design elements or look dated in a few years.” Bluestone comes in two finishes—honed and natural— and does not require a sealant. Thus, it is easy to maintain.

Main Street is what Crossville calls a very subtle treatment of a stone look with a contemporary color palette and high slip resistance. Lyza believes it will be a “fundamental” product commercially. “It’s what I would call an essential product, minimalist but not flat. We see it having appeal in every segment because of its functionality. We think its moderate price point will make it a large volume product for us.” Main Street is available in several sizes with a mosaic.


Two products took center stage: Stria and Spacia. Tyrone Johnson, president, North America, believes Stria is going to be “hot” because of its visuals and practicality. “There is movement within the product. And at 40mil, it is the most durable LVT on the market.” Stria comes in a multitude of sizes ranging from 12 x 12 to 18 x 48, is FloorScore certified for low-VOC content and includes a recycled material backing. It also offers a ceramic finish with urethane coating and beveled edges.

Spacia is an entry-level, 20mil, healthcare-oriented product. Amtico this year doubled the SKU count to 73 products in metallic, pebble and textile looks. “It competes with many of our competitors’ products, with the benefits of being an Amtico family product, so you can mix and match with other Amtico lines.”

-Steve Feldman

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