Armstrong’s Design Council

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Focus is on innovation, sustainability in contract flooring 

From left, Sandy Smith Sr., vice president, real estate and facilities at Hoag Hospital; Albert Oliver, senior associate, Flad Architects; Kyle Everly, owner, Hudson Everly Commercial Flooring, and Melanie Sofia Castillo, healthcare designer, Lillibridge Healthcare Services.

SAN FRANCISICO—Experts from different areas of the commercial market shared their perspectives on the industry, innovation and sustainability during Armstrong Commercial’s fall Design Council meeting.

Armstrong established the council in 2010 to explore emerging trends and confer on the overlapping, and sometimes convergent needs of the different disciplines involved in the design, cost, install and maintenance of high-traffic applications.

This year’s council included a designer, architect, contractor and healthcare facility administrator. “Councils help to look forward regarding what’s next and where the market will focus,” said director of commercial marketing and product design, Julianne Pierce. “All information is integrated into the business— that’s how change begins. Engaging our customers in a dialogue about their businesses and ours helps us to shape a relevant marketing program and product portfolio that supports our customers’ success.”

Kyle Everly, owner, Hudson Everly Commercial Flooring, enjoyed the professional diversity of the group. “To hear from different sides of the industry, and from those who are tops in their fields, opened my eyes as to how people look at things differently.” Case in point: She walked away realizing sound decibels and ratings have taken the healthcare industry by storm; a hot topic that’s growing.

Melanie Sofia Castillo of Lillibridge Healthcare Services said, “I wasn’t expecting to connect with professionals from other parts of the industry—it was eye-opening to hear their concerns and successes. Listening to their experiences and realizing they were very similar to mine was reassuring.”

In specifically addressing healthcare facilities, the council agreed flooring design directly influences the marketability and tenor of a space. Healthcare is one of Armstrong’s primary segments and the two biggest trends the council sees influencing it are hospitality and evidence-based design (EBD). Members said more clients are requesting hotel/spa-like atmospheres instead of the traditional sterile hospital environments—they want the Four Seasons, but also to feel professional and safe.

One of the principles of EBD is to create an environment that helps reduce the anxieties and stress typically associated with a hospital stay. More studies are being done to show how color, nature and environment affect healing and recovery times.

“We’re seeing this influence in other market segments as well: education and corporate,” said Armstrong principal designer Di Anna Borders. “Today’s designs are inspired by nature, a key influence in EBD decisions. Soothing interiors act as the ‘anti-technology.’ People are overwhelmed, and having a soothing environment mitigates this, much like in healthcare where anxiety and stress are reduced.”

According to Castillo, budget is a major concern for a lot of physicians who own their own practices. “They don’t see the need to invest in a sustainable product versus the traditional VCT. The industry should educate the public on the benefits of going green without being so price focused; let them know some products are the same price as the non-green product.”

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