Carpet: Patterns take on whole new dimension

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March 18/25, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan


As consumers increasingly move toward single-room installation for their broadloom needs, they are opting for bolder, edgier looks in patterns and prints. More importantly, they are willing to open up their pocketbooks for the right visuals.

These new looks in patterns and prints run the gamut from small to medium-scale design and organic patterns based on linen and weave looks to distressed and rustic visuals that have long been the domain of hardwood flooring. Distressed and rustic, a look that has been seen mostly in rugs, is not as common in broadloom primarily because it is not easy to pull off. However, mills are actively seeking ways to incorporate that distressed look into broadloom.

Executives say bolder patterns are coming into the market but are shown in a subdued, warm neutral palette that’s not overpowering. “We have noticed that patterns in general, but especially in wall-to-wall carpeting, are growing into many more consumers’ home choices,” said Jason Surratt, senior vice president of product and design for Phenix Flooring. “They are wanting styles that deliver texture and dimension with lots of cut and loop to counterbalance the increase of hard surface in the home.”

Ten years ago, solid color LCL was the fastest growing segment of the residential carpet market. Today, patterns with multiple colors, striated effects and tonal variations are becoming very popular. In addition, small-scale geometric patterns once dominated, representing approximately 75% of pattern sales in the market, according to T.M. Nuckols, president, residential division, The Dixie Group (TDG). “Today, patterns are trending larger and more abstract. Product designers are getting more creative, and the consumer is following them into this new space. At TDG Residential, well over half of our sales are in the patterned carpet category.”

The growth of hard surfaces has influenced changes in patterns as well. Terry Mowers, vice president commercial design, Tarkett, said soft surface is literally coming “off of the walls.” What she calls new “islands” (or area rugs) of soft surface provide a cleaner, crisper format to introduce bolder patterns and larger scale. “This was difficult to achieve wall-to-wall without visual distraction. But the increasing use of resilient flooring has provided new opportunity to create bolder, more dynamic use of pattern in smaller, thoughtfully placed areas.”

Tufting technology
Carpet industry observers credit advanced tufting technology for producing a new level of pattern precision heretofore not achievable. Indeed, today there is an abundance of tufting technologies that allow manufacturers to create patterned carpets. The most prominent are LCL, scroll loop and Color

Point tufting machines. “All of these technologies are available across multiple gauges to accommodate different-sized yarns and create a variety of face weights and aesthetics,” Nuckols explained. “We utilize all of these technologies in our products.”

Stanton Carpet
is well known forproducing on-trend, high-fashion products and patterns.
While geometricdesigns such as herringbone and stripes are still quite popular, Stanton noticed a trend toward more organic, curvy, natural motifs. “Our new styles, Marble Arch and Regent St., illustrate the trend toward more expressive designs with abstract marbleized and brushstroke looks printed on plush nylon that would look great in any room,” said Jonathan Cohen, CEO.

Another trend incorporates bold patterns paired with rich colors. Stanton’s Delphi, for example, features a geometric motif modestly scaled and layered onto an abstract pattern in contrasting colors on a Wilton loop construction, a versatile and unique weave structure.

In the past, carpet mills were limited to a solid cut loop pattern, but technology has opened the doors to numerous possibilities. “[Previously] you could never place the yarn where you wanted it to be on the tufting machine,” said Brittany Stanley, senior manager of design for residential, Mohawk. “Now you are no longer limited. You can take one pattern and easily create five or six options based on where you place the yarn. It is amazing what you can do now.”

Beautiful and bold looks have become a hallmark at Anderson Tuftex, where distinct character and elemental design is illustrated in many of its collections, none more so than Unleashed, its signature 2019 offering. As Maeriel Mumpar, designer, product development for Anderson Tuftex, explained, “There is a tactile, three-dimensional quality to the pattern designs with a sense of playfulness that translates as an engaging and approachable product to our consumers.”

Other mills also see a growing trend in linear patterns and designs that don’t distract from the overall décor. This movement is especially prevalent in residential and Main Street markets. “We have invested heavily in state-of-the-art equipment that gives us the ability to provide patterns that were previously impossible for non-tufted carpet products,” said Brian Warren, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Foss Floors. “We also provide the consumer with a virtually unlimited range of product offerings in carpet tiles and planks featuring Foss’s Self- Stick technology, giving the homeowner or business owner the ability to be their own decorator, mixing and matching patterns and designs.”

Luanne Holloway, head of carpet development at Southwind, said the minimalist trend in design and color has worked for consumers in the past few years. To that end, the company introduced Classic Traditions, a collection of patterns designed to transition seamlessly into any décor. “We have incorporated advanced technology to create layers of texture and color in areas of cut and loop, all achieved with the ever-important soft hand,” she said. “All of these patterns are collected on a circular display that rotates for easy use and visualization by the consumer. We think the path to simplify and reduce clutter in our lives and in our homes will continue.”

Mill executives credit social influencers and home improvement shows with helping shape opinion and drive changes in patterns and prints. Pam Rainey, ASID, IIDA, Shaw Floors’ vice president of product design, cites the HGTV show “Fixer Upper” as having enormous sway. “I don’t ever recall a single show having such an influence as that show has had on design trends. ‘Fixer Upper’ has helped launch the modern farmhouse movement, which has influenced all floor covering for at least three years. Sometimes they cross into each other—the modern farmhouse and the coastal look.”

As carpet manufacturers take advantage of the technology at their disposal, they believe the results will invigorate the category. “We’re excited to be able to take more risks with our patterns,” Mohawk’s Stanley said. “It is nice to be able to push the envelope and offer some more unique looks. We’re excited to see where the future takes us.”

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Volume 34, Issue 21