May 27/June 3, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 25
By Megan Salzano
Las Vegas—The evolution of the hospitality industry remains apparent through dramatic changes in product, design and specification, but flooring’s role as a foundational element to every built environment remains constant.
In fact, designers who spoke with FCNews overwhelmingly agreed that one of their pivotal goals at the show was to see what’s new underfoot. “We definitely look at flooring,” said Nicole Schneck, an interior designer with Gensler’s Houston office. “A lot of the time we try to go to the booths that we don’t know and learn about their products. We found a few new products that are pretty good on the flooring side.”
It’s no secret that LVT is growing in demand within the hospitality market as new technologies deliver more realistic design options, thereby easing the specification process. “It’s because of durability and cleanability, and brands are willing to not put carpet in hotel rooms anymore because they realize the customer wants something clean and easy for house-keeping to maintain,” said Tina Wichmann, principal and owner of Bunnyfish Studio, a design and architecture studio based in Las Vegas. “It doesn’t sound like it used to sound or look cheap, either. It’s looking a lot more realistic.”
Not surprisingly, the most desired look in LVT today is natural wood. These visuals allow designers to express a biophilic-inspired aesthetic that has come to reign in the hospitality market. Some manufacturers unveiled innovative wood looks that help keep the category’s standards high and meet the needs of the market. Karndean Designflooring, for example, showcased Art Select, which is crafted to enhance the unique grains, knots and textures of the wood that inspires it. The collection’s latest visuals were developed from reclaimed hickory, American chestnut and European oak.
Carpet tile has also edged its way deeper into the design plans of specifiers and building owners, and some carpet manufacturers at the show turned to new technologies to help unleash the next wave of design evolution. Shaw Hospitality, for instance, unveiled its Tailor Tuft technology. “This is a brand-new, four-color technology,” said Robert Stuckey, director of hospitality and retail. “The differential precision we can create really cannot be replicated at this point. Everything here is a custom collection as of right now, which, is to say, it’s an idea starter.”
Milliken also unveiled new technologies meant to inspire designers: woven axminster and Color Point. The company unveiled its Force of Nature collection, which the company said is the real story behind the tech. “The technologies for this collection were the secondary story,” said Roy Acosta, hospitality marketing manager. “We wanted to lead with the design and patterns and also show how they can be produced in each of these technologies. Now Milliken can play in any space.”
One product trend developing from the growth of LVT and carpet tile is the merging of the two categories within single collections. Some took the literal route, showing collections that include coordinated hard and soft surface lines; others revealed hard surface collections with innovative soft surface looks.
Tarkett, for example, unveiled its first collection as one Tarkett brand: MergEmerge. The collection is an experiment in the blending of soft and hard surfaces—incorporating hard surface LVT with woven axminster, tufted and broadloom carpet.
Durkan, on the other hand, launched Sakiori, which combines visual texture and physical attributes to create hard surface flooring with a soft textile aesthetic.
The tile category surprised some designers at this year’s show. Several said new colors and sizes turned heads and brought a breath of fresh air to the category. When it comes to tile trends, size has been a major headline grabber. Designers at the show noted larger sizes are growing in demand and will continue to do so. “Porcelain has been at the forefront for a really long time,” Gensler’s Schneck said. “I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere. I think it’s just sizes that are really driving porcelain now.”
Emser Tile showcased its Yakedo porcelain plank line, designed in collaboration with Gensler. It’s a nod to the growing focus from manufacturers toward the needs of their design partners and the segment overall. The collection taps the large-format trend with elongated 8 x 47 plank tiles. The offering also features a unique aesthetic of burnt wood, which reflects light from its crackled texture. In addition to a variety of new colors and designs, Daltile also tapped the size trend with its Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces, including the new Metallic Selection. The porcelain slab collection features a reflective, iridescent metallic sheen. An unrefined essence of concrete enhanced with mixed metals is provided on large format scale.