In most new structures – be they residential or corporate – there are three visible planes: ceilings, walls / windows and floors that create the shell of the interior spaces. Of these, the horizontal floor areas demand attention at every level. The appraiser’s vision immediately rests thereon as the structure is entered; so floor treatments are vital in painting the base picture of the interior and, in many cases, delineating or coordinating areas.

cover image: Paco Rugs

So, in 2018 SA, what are the trends in wood and vinyl in terms of textures, colours and patterns?

Nicole Russel of Italtile: ‘We have recently imported the most realistic wood-look tiles in both a highly distressed and a more natural feel, and in a larger than normal length. I don’t think the wood trend is changing drastically. I do however, feel that this is a solution that will need to be essentially timeless and that end users are looking for options other than the norm.’

LVT is providing both residential and corporate new builds and renovations with a wood-look floor that’s hard to distinguish from original timber planks, yet at a far cheaper cost that is very easy to maintain. And these vinyl are ever more sophisticated: size variations, colours, timber species replications and surface finishes continue to expand to provide flooring that’s great to look at and a pleasure to walk on.

As for solid hardwoods, a spokesperson for Oggie SA notes: ‘Darker wood floors are making a comeback and there is a trend for extra-wide planks (40cm wide and 5m long). Certain consumers are realising that there may be only a marginal price difference between some high-end vinyl and solid wood; and are favouring the authenticity of the genuine article. They’re selecting timber that comes from sustainable forests, and appreciating companies that can prove and provide this.’

Established Belgian brand Lalegno offers ten distinct collections in quality French engineered hardwood. This multilayer flooring is specified by the world’s leading designers and architects, for both residential and commercial projects, as a very high quality product with an excellent price / performance ratio. Says Lalegno’s Hanel Appleby: ‘With in-house machinery and 20 years’ experience, we have the ability to create smoked, brushed and other custom finished timber floors according to client specifications.’

So if wood-looks are all the rage in 2018, does that mean carpet is dead?

Not so. Flooring is undoubtedly experiencing something of a revolution, but the carpeting industry continues to add new characters, drawing the end user into innovative and exciting twists. Basically, technology is booming and is having an effect on flooring trends across the board.

Paco Pakdoust of designer / manufacturer Paco Rugs is a global pioneer in this sector. He comments: ‘A wide range of styles is available, from traditional to modern and contemporary to abstract. I feel that incorporating any of these designs successfully will depend on the overall interior decoration and – to some extent – the interior architecture. We find that with SA’s current architecture, contemporary and abstract designs are best suited; the most important factor is to find a design and colour combination that will best complement the space.’

Overall, industry experts have noted that carpets and rugs are already seeing a resurgence in popularity; and for 2018 this will become even more so with the showcasing of strong design statements – in vibrant or neutral colours – and in handmade rugs that are unique. These rugs take originality and control a step further, it’s almost akin to building a personal relationship with the artisan who created the piece; they succeed in synergising passion, design and individualism.

‘Kitchens and bathrooms may seem like a dangerous place for a rug, however they provide an easy way to add colour and warmth to spaces left generally neutral. Perhaps try a faded vintage piece to ease into the look, loud and proud with bold geometric styles,’ so says Tracey-Lee Gradidge of Sandton-based importer / retailer Casarredo. ‘From wallpaper to flooring, bold geometric prints are so hot right now. A bright, patterned rug makes a large statement in any space and geometric patterns never go out of style.

What of the latest global trends in reducing the carbon footprint affected by the tile industry, in terms of sourcing materials and manufacturing?

Heidi Masson of Studio Masson: ‘For several years the leading European producers have been very much aware of the environmental impact of the production process. Their focus is on meeting European standards in production procedures, logistics, maintenance, microclimate, water cycle, wastes, internal recycling and energy consumption. To this end many are using state-of-the-art environmental technology that ensures a sustainable manufacturing process.’

A multi-use of finishes is also evident; mixing contrasting materials or gloss and matt surfaces from the same range of tiles to evoke less formality.

Steve Joubert of Stiles reflects on the overall global trend, as per that seen at Cersaie 2017 (Cersaie is the Fashion Week for tiles): ‘Terrazzo was confirmed as one of the most popular tile finishes; redesigned in new decorative shapes, applied on the floor and walls, with small grains or very big patterns. Other than that, last year at Cersaie it was really about marble-effect everywhere – polished and mainly light – but also a good deal of dark marble, with original effects and sizes. Porcelain, which replicates marble, was the key trend largely because it’s almost impossible to see the difference from the original, yet porcelain requires far less maintenance.’

So, in 2018, South African upper echelon floors are being clad with a variety of hard and soft coverings. The final selections should depend on the architectural / interior signature with function and purpose also at the fore. The major hard materials include: stone, marble, travertine, porcelain and ceramic tiles; terracotta clay, quartz / stone / resin compounds, stainless steel, solid timber, wood laminates and simulated wood laminates. In SA, top soft floor choices are carpeting, carpet tiles, designer rugs and the much acclaimed LVT in wood-looks (in a wide variety of finishes).

For the full article see Habitat #266 July / August 2018


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