Al’s Column: Trend forecasts and tips for 2016

Home Columns Al's Column Al's Column: Trend forecasts and tips for 2016

March 16/23, 2015; Volume 28/Number 19

By Victoria Redshaw

Floor covering retailers across the U.S. are focusing more on fashion. Recognizing that flooring is the stage on which their customers’ décor dreams are realized, retailers are beginning to appreciate how their offerings need to connect with paint colors, wall coverings, upholstery fabrics and any other products that have a relationship with flooring in a room scheme.

The smart retailers subscribe to interior design blogs, stay up-to-date on the latest editions of home magazines, regularly visit furniture stores and interiors exhibitions, or even hire interior designers as part of their sales teams. This gives retailers a great understanding of what is popular now. But how can retailers begin to understand what is going to be trending next?

As a trend forecaster I spend my days focused on the future of design—the colors, textures, patterns, materials and styles consumers will desire and the reasons driving those tastes. I present our trend forecasts to manufacturers around the world so they will know what to design and produce for upcoming seasons. In fact, our forecasts give a view of up to three years into the future. This information can also be used by retailers.

Trend forecasts enable flooring dealers to make informed decisions about what the right product will be for customers, helping them plan ahead.

With all of this in mind, here are my top flooring trend tips for 2016:

  • Hyper natural: This relates to wood styles that flaunt the natural imperfections and grain character of the raw material. Far from wanting engineered perfection, consumers will increasingly seek to surround themselves with products that bring them closer to nature, and that look and feel authentic. The desire for a natural, rustic appearance does not only apply to solid wood flooring; laminates, inkjet-printed porcelain and incredibly realistic LVT can also satisfy this desire.
  • Gray: This is not a fad fashion color, but a new classic color with customer appeal that will continue for many years. Wood and wood-look flooring in gray tones can be used to instantly provide the foundation for on-trend industrial or urban styles and a myriad of modern styles from Scandinavian to new minimalism. Of course, concrete also fits into the gray color family, and just as with the hyper-natural trend, it does not necessarily need to be the “real thing.” High-definition, inkjet-printed porcelain tiles give end users the desired concrete look with the performance and durability of porcelain tile.
  • Reclaimed: Products that have a story to tell, have been previously used and are repurposed or vintage resonate with consumers. In flooring this equates to a distressed appearance with signs of wear and aging. It is a timeworn aesthetic that hinges on a weathered look and also advocates the mixing of varied woods and/or wood tones across a floor.
  • Mixed-width formats: In line with the trend for reclaimed flooring styles comes an interest in incorporating a mix of plank widths across a floor. This move away from uniformity is an important trend for 2016.
  • Dark and blonde wood: Both dark and blonde wood tones are currently trending and will continue for several more years, so retailers should be sure to stock offerings at both ends of the shade spectrum. The deep, dramatic espresso tones of walnut give a glamorous heritage look, while blonde tones of oak, maple and ash appeal to customers looking to achieve modern styles.
  • Parquet: The classic herringbone and chevron layouts will be a favorite, but I predict puzzle-like geometrics will also begin to gain the interest of interior designers.

 

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