What’s new underfoot? Designers went to the recent International Surface Event in Las Vegas to find out. The trade show displays new carpets, tile, flooring and other surfaces for the home. Here are some of the trends that emerged.
“The most important consumer trend is undoubtedly based around the subject of sustainability,” says Laura Greenwood, a trend forecaster with Scarlet Opus, a United Kingdom-based agency that works internationally with designers, architects, manufacturers, retailers and home builders. Designers have begun responding to consumer demand for more Earth-friendly products by creating pieces built from sustainable materials, and using techniques that have a low or minimal environmental impact. Germany-based Organoid Decorative Coatings, for example, showcased flooring and wallpaper made from renewable resources such as grass and flowers, and the company takes pains to ensure its manufacturing process uses 100 percent green electricity and chemicals that are safe for the environment. Other companies, such as Syosset-based Stanton Carpet Corp., highlighted new additions to its recently acquired Hibernia Woolen Mills a brand that produces undyed products. And from London-based designer Tamara Orjola, there was a Forest Wool collection, which features carpets (even stools) made from pine needles. “Consumers are in search of products that have a positive impact on the environment and on society,” says Greenwood.
WOODEN, RECLAIMED, ‘BIOPHILIC’
Along with the sustainable trend, recycled and repurposed materials are increasingly important. In fact, even items for the home that just look reclaimed are trending. “A number of products at the show included reclaimed woods or had the aesthetics of this,” says Greenwood. One brand, San Diego-based DuChâteau, features wood flooring called “aged character,” which it says “highlights the wood’s natural free-forming grain patterns, knots and cracks” to recreate the look of an old floor. Another brand, Crossville, a tile company out of Crossville, Tennessee, is manufacturing a glass tile with the look of end-grain wood; it uses natural wood patterns but adds new, vibrant colors to the mix, such as blue. This trend, says Greenwood, references “biophilic design,” which is a theory suggesting that people have an innate desire to seek out designs that connect them with nature.
Strong, geometric patterns made a bold statement at the show. Jonathan Cohen, chief executive of Syosset-based Stanton Carpet, says it’s an ongoing trend in flooring. “We continue to see abstract designs, as well as clean yet sophisticated non-pattern products, strongly in favor in the market,” he says. His company showcased several bold styles, including the company’s Rosecore line, with its square design, and the more subtle striations of their Stanton Street High Line product, which is part of a new line of carpet tiles.
However, carpet wasn’t the only tile making squared waves. “One of my key takeaways from the show was seeing a large variety of geometric tiles that have been re-imagined and reinvented to give a modern twist on classic shapes,” says Greenwood. For example, Los Angeles-based Emser Tile displayed its newest collection, Code, a three-dimensional matte ceramic tile with mixed materials, finishes and metallic inserts.
WARM, LIGHT NEUTRALS
Today’s color palette is moving in a new direction. In wood, for instance, the previous trend toward gray tones is giving way to warmer, more natural and neutral shades.
David Shaoulpour, executive vice president of Hicksville-based HF Design, which makes environment-friendly floors, says that he’s seen an increased desire for neutrals on the lighter side of spectrum. “Everyone is moving toward the trend of more natural tones and lighter colors, he says, adding, “and millennials, in particular, like lighter-colored floors.” Shaoulpour also says that wider and longer planks, such as his company’s new 9.5-inch Azur Reserve collection, are coming into vogue. “It’s because there are fewer joints to look at when it’s laid down,” he says.
For walls, neutrals return to the kinds of colors found in nature. “Our wall colors were a palette . . . of earthy forest greens, urban grays and muted moss tones,” says Greenwood. “We showcased these alongside deep pigmented reds, raw terra-cotta and organic neutrals.”
Perhaps the freshest trend is the resurgence of confetti-like surfaces made in the terrazzo style with chips of marble, quartz, metal or glass set in resin or cement. It is often made reusing scraps of multiple materials, so it’s not just pretty, but sustainable.
One particularly innovative product was a wood terrazzo by Solomon & Wu, a United Kingdom-based firm that develops new materials, and also manufactures architectural elements such as moldings, which incorporates wood scraps normally wasted during processing.
Then there was the colorful Jesmonite tiles from designer Olivia Aspinall. Jesmonite, a water- and gypsum-based composite originally developed as an alternative to fiberglass, holds colors very well, and uses both natural minerals and acrylic polymers. “Both terrazzo and Jesmonite are very flexible in terms of the different looks you can create with them,” says Greenwood, explaining that they allow for an almost limitless range of color combinations and are not only being used for floors but also furniture and other home goods.