Ready to design your commercial space? Don’t forget about the flooring. Whether you have a commercial flooring design idea in mind, or are just beginning to explore what’s available, you’ll find that the possibilities – and materials – are endless. A floor can influence any space, bringing both style and functionality while speaking clearly about your company culture.
Things to consider when designing a new floor: new technology, new materials, performance and trends in the marketplace. For your commercial flooring design ideas, consider some of these trendier materials that relate to nature and texture – think of it as stimulation of the senses. And don’t be afraid to mix and match materials to create your own floor design.
Bamboo has been around for a long time, but the marketplace is now exploding with a variety of colors and styles. While technically a fast-growing grass, bamboo is as hard (or harder) than most hardwoods when dried. Newer products called strand-woven bamboo, a highly engineered product using the inner fibers, are twice as hard as traditional bamboo flooring. In addition to the common thin-banded styles that are widely popular, bamboo is also offered in wide-plank styles that mimic the look of classic hardwoods.
Like bamboo, cork is getting a lot of attention. Prized for its acoustic-insulating qualities, cork flooring is much more comfortable to walk on than traditional hardwood and tile. Thanks to new factory finishes, cork is available in a wide color palette and is far more durable than it was just a few decades ago. Jelinek Cork Group is one company thinking outside the box with cork. The corks collected by Jelinek are gathered from various drop-off points where people can deposit used wine corks. Some are then ground down and reconstituted for use in ceiling, wall and floor tiles, while others are thinly cut to create coin-shaped laminate tiles for floating on a sub-floor suited for a kitchen or bathroom application. The design opportunities are endless. The little cork circles can be left in their natural state, colored like conventional tile and arranged in various patterns or inlaid within a larger normal-tile framework.
More classic looks using new technology are also widely available. A perfect example of this is reclaimed hardwood. New factory-finished hardwood flooring offers all the charm of reclaimed timber – right down to that timeless hand-hewn look — but without the high costs associated with true salvaged lumber. A decorative flooring series from Mafi provides a fresh take on manufactured floors, etching designs that range from abstract floral patterns to playfully embossed stick figures. The pre-engraved slats are shallow enough not to collect dirt and dust, but deep enough to be felt underfoot by socked or bare feet. Each features a darker “burned” look or a consistent surface treatment where variation is seen only by reflection, light and shadow.
Looking to put your own mark on a hardwood floor? Ever wonder what happens to wine barrels when a vintage is ready to be bottled? As it turns out, recycling them for the next round of wine is not a preferred practice by serious wine-makers as the old flavors might taint the new grapes.
While the industry works on ways to better reuse barrels you can buy used barrels on the cheap, strip them down, flatten them out and use them to build some age and personality into hardwood floors that can be hard to do using typical architectural salvage. Fontenay is one company making its way in the business of wine barrel recycling. The various parts of the barrel are arranged into second-hand hardwood collections stylistically dependent on their source and nature. These are mostly presented individually, but can be combined with hardwood to create a unique floor pattern.
Some of the sets show off the stamps and markings of their maker, black-stenciled block print that adds character, while others feature the wine-soaked inner sides of the barrels, stained different colors and tones naturally in the wine-production process. Still others show off odds and ends of the barrels – smaller and uniquely-shaped remnants from outside of the main wrap-around barrel section.
In the world of laminate, floors inspired by traffic flow are catching on. Dimension flooring is a graphically designed flooring determined not by a craftsman’s creativity, but by the pattern of traffic flow in a particular space. Alistair Bramley came up with the concept, whereby laminate flooring design can be tailored not just for the people who use the space, but also how they use it. The patterns are created using the natural movement of people within a set environment. Obstacles such as furniture are incorporated into the floor design. To achieve the pattern video recordings are made to determine the traffic flow or how people use the space which is then processed to generate an abstract pattern. The flowing design can then be printed and assembled.
Do you love the look of leather but don’t want to wear it? Consider a leather floor. Available in plank or tile, this floor combines the luxurious aesthetic of leather with the durability of a hard surface. Made of recycled leather from European mills, a range of natural colors and textures offer a variety of ways to make a unique and lasting impression.
In the world of tile there is an explosion of sizes, shapes, materials and patterns. Particularly popular are large-format tiles in 24×48, 32×32 and 36×36 formats. Large format tiles can open up a small area and bring proportionality to large commercial spaces. Plus, they provide a larger design “canvas,” and the opportunity for glaze patterns and designs to be big, detailed and continuous.
It’s also an exciting time for the commercial carpet industry. According to Floor Trends Magazine, a mega-trend in the sector is color choice beyond traditional palettes as mills invest millions in new machinery that create more sophisticated patterns, textures and constructions. The result: solution-driven carpet designs utilizing bold color and design. A great example of this is the “Flying Carpet” created by Seyed Alavi. The carpet is actually an aerial view of the famous Sacramento River. The giant rug connects the Sacramento International Airport terminal with the airport parking garage. It’s a great idea inspired for its location.
Another carpet sector enjoying a spike is modular carpet tile. The most versatile for floor design, modular carpets is an innovative system of carpet squares that you assemble to create custom wall-to-wall designs of any shape and size. You design what you want to design. Its versatility allows you to create different patters with the same tiles across collections with a wide variety of colors, patterns and textures.
With so much to choose from in terms of materials and design, it may be hard to decide which way to go. Flooring experts recommend you work with a flooring designer who can help you every step of the way.