From Floor Covering Weekly [Hannover, Germany] It is no surprise that Domotex Hannover, held here January 16-19, 2016, continues to be the voice in design and flooring trends. Up in attendance from 2015, the show saw 45,000 attendees from over 100 countries peruse the halls for the latest in innovative and design-driven products. Design trends this year focused on color use and taking inspiration from natural elements like stone as well as mixing traditional visuals with modern design.
One of the most exciting stories coming out of Domotex continues to be the continued growth and acceptance of WPC. A number of top name companies came to the show armed with performance-driven, on-trend WPC products.
“WPC is now an established and patented product category within LVT,” said Piet Dossche, president and CEO, a first-time exhibitor this year. ”WPC had not yet been known in Europe because there hadn’t been a company like USFloors in the market up until now. You must have WPC if you want to have a complete and well-rounded LVT offering.”
USFloors will be launching 27 CoreTec SKUs to the European market, spanning three different lengths ¾ 4, 5 and 6 feet long planks — and will feature realistic stone and wood visuals. Jan Dossche will be heading up the company’s European arm.
WPC is also lending itself to the cork category. Amorim’s vice president of sales Mário Pinho said the company came to Hannover armed with a few directives: communicate cork technology in a condensed story to retailers and highlight its new HydroCork line of waterproof, high-density cork flooring.
“There is a good problem with cork in that it has too many benefits. We are condensing the cork tech story into 5 minutes and offering a simple explanation on the benefits of cork tech, its green story and how it reduces noise by up to 53 percent,” he said.
Amorim’s HydroCork is available in 10 SKUs in the U.S. and 13 in Europe with the company expanding offerings for both markets.
Thomas Baert, president of Lamett, said Europe is still seeing the excitement of not solely WPC but LVT as well. “The European market is more conservative in regards to switching to something new, and more cynical because customers are more demanding in understanding the product,” he said.
New for 2016, Lamett introduced an antibacterial treatment called Surface Enhanced Plus (SE+). Driven by pet and carpet allergies, SE+ is available on the company’s Novocore WPC product — introduced in 2015 — and is a response to the customer’s demand for safe and healthy flooring products, Baert explained.
“SE+ is something you can objectively test and people want a story — it’s phthalate free and has no chemicals,” he said.
As wood and laminate also continue to grow, Baert said trends seen in the European market include high gloss and matte finishes, as well as color contrast between planks.
Caroline Wille, creative director, IVC US, said LVT in particular continues its rapid expansion in Europe due to improvements in design and construction. “Larger sizes and EIR (embossed in register) allows for more realistic visuals and better colors,” she said. “We are seeing more gray influence and even some more blue tones but the market is also into more natural and warm colors now. Plank variation is also important.”
Wille added that customization and personalization continue to be strong selling factors, noting that the company’s Moods Collection of LVT for residential and commercial applications can be cut and mixed and matched to create unique visuals.
EarthWerks too put the emphasis on its personalization capabilities for LVT this year. L.A. Train, director, said his company is encouraging its customers to mix and match by choosing from the company’s Standard collection of LVT and personalizing designs by using the new Styl’It, Mix’It and Versaille lines that feature custom cutting.
“We’re providing color flexibility because it’s what customers asked for and what they want. We’re also saying to architects and designers: Be bold, be inspired, go design, go create. Choose a Standard plank and be creative,” he said.
In addition to being easily customizable, LVT performance has also been enhanced. Aspecta was on hand showing its newly launched Aspecta Ten featuring its new Isocore technology. Steve Perry, business development manager, Aspecta, said Isocore is 100 percent waterproof and features added rigidity and stability throughout the core. Making its official launch at Domotex 2016, Aspecta Ten features 40 designs.
“Attendees like the Isocore story. It’s stable and it is capable of being installed over existing subfloors,” said Don Nase, director of international sales at Vertex Services, a Metroflor company. “There have also been significant advancements in vinyl, allowing it to have a greener story by removing plasticizers.”
Russ Rogg, president and CEO of Metroflor, said the explosion of growth in the rigid core, multi-layer modular LVT category will continue to be significant for manufacturers and retailers alike.
“Metroflor offers a new commercial brand in this category with the introduction of Aspecta Ten, featuring our proprietary Isocore Technology. Strong, rigid and dimensionally stable, the 100 percent waterproof Aspecta Ten flooring installs over existing hard surface floors easily. It achieves comfort underfoot and sound insulation thanks to the pre-attached acoustical underlayment,” he said.
Traditional meets modern
From a design perspective, Domotex showed that combining traditional looks with modern visuals allows suppliers to push the boundaries in flooring design. One place in particular where attendees saw this was at Beaulieu International Group. Through the use of vignettes, Emmanuelle Lionen, global brand manager at Beaulieu International Group, explained that story telling continues to be the most effective selling tool because “it is sentimental.”
Large planks and tiles, and stone visuals, for hard surface were also showcased front and center. “This year we are pushing budget-friendly parquet products. For instance, our Ambition line of parquet flooring. We’re seeing denim as a color trend that is taking off as well as shiny colors too in parquet,” explained Lionen.
However, Hannover serves as not just a place to see the latest flooring trends — also serves as a good meeting place for suppliers to connect with their international customers, particularly those from the Middle East and Asia, explained Alex Jauregui, vice president and general manager carpet business and international development at Mannington Commercial.
“While here, we work on projects and brand development. We rely on our overseas partners to be updated on product to help service brand,” he said.
At the show this year, Mannington Commercial showed Traction Avenue, a line developed in collaboration with designer Joey Shimoda. The collection is comprised of 12” x 48” modular carpet planks that are fade and fade out solution dyed with a neutral color palette. It is the company’s first collection featuring narrow planks.