NeoCon ’21: Exhibitors key in on design

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Julie Eno (center) shows off one of the Gold category awards Armstrong Flooring won at NeoCon. Eno is flanked by David Kurtz and Dave Thoresen.

By Ken Ryan—Chicago—Like many in-person events during the age of COVID-19, NeoCon endured postponements and schedule changes that wreaked havoc with its goal of a mid-June gathering. Instead, NeoCon was moved to early October, and while some top-tier flooring companies pulled out ahead of the show, citing pandemic concerns, those who did attend took advantage of greater interaction with members of the A&D community.

“To not have been here would have been a missed opportunity,” said Mark Page, senior director, creative design and development, Mohawk Group. Mohawk, which won three Gold awards at the show, took full advantage of its time with designers to showcase its Waterways Project.

Among the awards, Page was particularly proud of its win in the Sustainability category for Data Tide, a product within Waterways. Data Tide, a 12 x 36 modular carpet plank, features gradations that flow from light to dark in order to mimic transitioning waters. The collection’s color tones reference back to estuaries, Page said. Data Tide can be paired with Mohawk Group’s portfolio of soft and resilient flooring as well as finishing accessories.

Waterways’ eight collections are designed to foster a symbiotic relationship with rivers and workspaces, encouraging respect for—and protection of—the world’s water ecosystems. The project’s designers and engineers seek to develop products that are healthy and free of toxins, socially responsible and respectful of worker’s rights while positively impacting the environment.

Mike Gallman, president of Mohawk Group (second from left) speaks with Geoff Gordon, executive director of Fuse Alliance during NeoCon.

Page told FCNews that Mohawk has always been committed to sustainability but has recently accelerated its level of commitment. In September, for example, it signed The Climate Pledge, a sustainability-driven effort originally cofounded by Amazon and Global Optimism. Mohawk Group joined over 200 signatories that are also committed to accelerated climate action. By signing the pledge, Mohawk Group agrees to incorporate several climate-sensitive strategies, including a commitment to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions regularly, neutralize remaining emissions with permanent and socially beneficial offsets to achieve net-zero annual carbon emissions by 2040, and implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement.

“This kind of action is what our A&D community expects,” Page explained. “This is not an ask by them; it’s what they demand.”

Page added, “for years, Interface held the high ground [in sustainability standards]. This year we’ve had an awakening, and we are being recognized for that.”

Mohawk launched four LVT collections made in Dalton at the former IVC plant. All four can be used together or individually and are aimed at the education segment.

Mike Gallman, president of Mohawk Group, saluted his design team. “The team continues to push the envelope. It starts with a mission, a purpose and a story. We’ve honed this into a real science.”

Shaw Contract’s NeoCon was sprinkled with Gold awards, with its Bottle Floor taking home first-place finishes in both sustainability and innovation. Bottle Floor is a new hybrid flooring material made from 30% post-consumer PET bottles. Every square yard of Bottle Floor contains 61 recycled plastic bottles. With the visual of soft surface and the durability of a hard surface, this product is 4mm thick and can be installed side by side with most EcoWorx carpet tiles with no need for transitions. More than 2 billion plastic bottles are recycled annually.

Armstrong Flooring was another company that was glad it attended NeoCon. Not only did the company win Best of NeoCon awards in the vinyl/LVT category, it also got some valuable face time with attendees.

“There are a lot of specifiers/contractors we met with,” said Dave Thoresen, SVP-product and innovation officer. “While traffic is lighter the quality of that traffic was real good.”

Armstrong won Best of NeoCon awards in hard surface flooring: vinyl/LVT (Rest & Refuge) and in the category of Healthcare for MedinPure. MedinPure is a PVC-free homogeneous sheet that uses a patent-pending formulation including coordinating PVC-free weld rods for aseptic areas. MedinPure is free of ortho-phthalates, halogens, isocyanates and Red List chemicals of concern.

Rest & Refuge, which won Gold, is geared for the hospitality segment, an expanded area of focus for the company. Key features: ultra-dense core, top-down 100% waterproof structure, and an attached pad for single product acoustic performance that enables quick installation with no acclimation in most spaces.

“By far the designs are on point,” said David Kurtz, vice president of commercial sales. The company showcased boards of 9 x 60 and 9 x 70 dimensions with 6.5mm thicknesses, which Kurtz said aligns with the specifications required by Marriott hotels as the company moves further into the hospitality space.

Patcraft’s focus was on the Geometry of Shape, which studies the relationship between two contrasting points or ideas — minimalism and maximalism; digital and physical; positive and negative space. Among the standout offerings was Longitude, an innovative resilient flooring derived from a rigid mineral core combined with a durable top layer. It features an ExoGuard+ finish that provides enhanced scratch and stain resistance, and is available in 6 x 48 planks.

Special Palette, a Silver award winner in the modular carpet category, is the first collection in Patcraft’s new ReWorx platform—100% PET product that can be recycled in its entirety. It is offered in a 12 x 48 plank.

Tarkett took home a Gold in the hard surface vinyl/LVT Natural Materials category for its Color Splash Speckled Rubber Tile. The line comes in 50 standard colors, including solid tonal visuals that work alongside multi-colored chipped colorations. Color Splash Speckled Rubber flooring is suited for applications where slip resistance, durability, easy maintenance, and comfort underfoot are important.


 

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