From mountain hay to future studies
“Some of the innovative products I came across at the fair really surprised me. Although this has long been an internationally established forum, it still has great potential for further development,” said multi-award-winning designer Alfredo Häberli, Special Guest at DOMOTEX 2017, looking back. “I am fascinated by the range you find here, which stretches from the handmade one-off to the highly industrialized product.” Some 1,400 exhibitors from more than 60 countries were represented in Hanover from January 14 to 17. They presented in 12 halls: the world’s largest offering of innovations in floor coverings; the choice included industrially produced and handmade carpets, textile and elastic coverings, parquet, laminate and wooden flooring as well as laying and application techniques. “With its large exhibitor base and innovation density, as well as its unique international flair, DOMOTEX has further consolidated its position as leading global marketplace for floor coverings,” commented Dr. Andreas Gruchow, member of the Managing Board of Deutsche Messe AG. Exhibitors’ trailblazing novelties were particularly highlighted with the Innovations@DOMOTEX format. Moreover, for the first time five up-and-coming European design studios presented inspiring studies for future flooring design in the framework of the “Young Designer Trendtable.”
The area showcasing elastic floor coverings and carpets boasted numerous new approaches and creative ideas. One impressive further development by Dutch exhibitor Forbo Flooring is “Marmoleum Cocoa.” Crushed cocoa-bean shells give the linoleum flooring a modern look and underscore its sustainable production. Moreover, the addition of the industrial waste product lends the covering an interesting haptic quality. The manufacturer also presented “Sphera Element” at the fair, an innovative PVC floor covering that is entirely free of harmful phthalates and is produced in an environmentally friendly manner. With its luminous, highly reflective colors it would be suitable, for instance, for marking escape routes.
Near-natural design flooring
Amorim is a Portuguese company specializing in cork products. The three new collections of its Wicanders brand also contain cork as a core material to reduce footfall sound; it features a printed layer of vinyl on top. “Vintage Stones” and “Fusion” are floor coverings bearing highly realistic wood and stone motifs. The “Brick” line is intended as decorative wall cladding, calling to mind the raw aesthetics of New York lofts with its clinker pattern.
At Floorify’s stand the Belgian firm demonstrated the material properties of the “Floorify Rigid” vinyl panels and tiles. All products in the range have an incredibly realistic look and feel. The surface material not only looks like real wood, but also feels like it. The coverings are well made, waterproof, easy to clean, highly robust and can be fitted on any base material.
Thanks to a new tufting technology with a structured, multicolored loop developed by Danish firm Fletco Carpets, patterns with up to four colors can be produced with no printing required. One such example is the “Stony Beach” carpet tiles, which resemble stone structures. The pattern edges do not have to match up, which means there is little wastage. Moreover, their special reverse side made with “TEXtiles” contains no PVC or bitumen. They are made from a minimum of 60-percent recycled nylon material by means of a sustainable, CO2-reduced process using wind energy.
With “Evolution Zero” Virag from Italy presented a rigid design vinyl floor covering whose stability allows for quick installation. It boasts a very high dimensional stability, meaning it does not stretch even in direct sunlight. On ceramic tiles or other base materials Evolution Zero can bridge joins up to one centimeter wide where surfaces are uneven. “Tack Dry” is another novelty, an installation system with micro-suction cups on the reverse of the panels. Floor coverings from this series can be securely laid in a flash and removed without damage just as quickly.
Fire refines wood
The pine planks “Shou Sugi Ban” develop their own formal language with their vibrant pattern in contrasting shades and a characteristic surface created by a special double burning process. They were the object of much attention at the stand of British supplier Havwoods, which develops and distributes products, but does not manufacture them itself. The traditional Japanese treatment with fire makes the wall covering, which is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, particularly hard and durable. The planks are subsequently stained and oiled.
Swiss firm Li & Co’s stand also caused a stir with its new floor panels “Lico Pur,” whose surface layer is made of hand-scythed Tyrolean mountain hay. The process involves laminating pressed plant elements onto cork and a substrate. The flooring is subsequently made durable and waterproof by means of so-called hot-coating technology.
Turkish exhibitor Kastamonu International presented new laminates of its “Floorpan” brand in the five programs “Nova,” “Sun,” “Natural,” “Classic” and “Register.” The latter’s surface is barely distinguishable from real wood. Floorpan is installed using the patented click system “L2C” by Unilin.
Knotted by a master hand
Handmade carpets by innovative labels have a highly recognizable creative signature. “Dresden” is an unusual series designed by Berlin-based designer Hermann Weizenegger for Rug Star. The dense pile of viscose and wool lends the carpets a touch of luxury. The yarns, in two colors and different pile heights, create a kind of textile relief calling to mind Art Déco forms. Creative Matters from Canada showed carpets in Hanover that are knotted by hand in India and Nepal. The one-off pieces made from Chinese silk high-quality wools bear motifs of atmospheric winter scenes. In his collection “Shiraz” Hossein Rezvani brings the classic Persian carpet with medallion design up to date using the stylistic means of the used look without losing sight of its cultural roots. And the “Pattern Mix Collection” is inspired by hand-printed designs from textile design. The creative concept by Galleria Battilossi is based on small graphic patterns composed into abstract collages of seemingly sketchy fabric designs.
A look to the future
In the framework of the new concept “Young Designer Trendtable” five European design studios questioned the current production of floor coverings. Over six months the aspiring designers experimented, researched and designed; industrial designer Stefan Diez accompanied and supported them in the role of mentor. The young designers presented their personal visions for the flooring design of tomorrow in a special space.
Hanne Willmann from Berlin highlights a new authenticity of the floor and wishes to strengthen appreciation of the manual process. For this reason she involves the tradesman in realizing creative solutions. Her project “Vein” envisages narrow strips of carpet being inserted in a ribbed wooden floor after laying to create soft zones that define areas of use by means of color and form. The slightly bulging grout between her “Notch” tiles becomes a formative element; here the pattern ensures better adhesion. The designer’s idea becomes even clearer in “Lamina,” for here the tradesman has the greatest part in the creative process. After laying the flooring he mills lines of differing depths in a multi-layered wood. Because the individual layers are stained different colors, this produces a multicolored pattern.
The user makes the floor
Klaas Kuiken from the Netherlands believes the future of flooring will involve the user constantly changing the surface. He is fascinated by the traces people leave behind when they moved around on foot – in the outdoors or in rooms. To illustrate this he laid pentagonal MDF tiles finished with high-pressure laminate on foam strips. When you step onto the surface the elements tilt to the side slightly, briefly revealing an LED light installed underneath. In addition, Kuiken’s exhibition includes photos of human traces and videos with biological motion sequences.
Game of contrasts
Bilge Nur Saltik, who lives in Istanbul and London, combines hard and soft, industrial and handmade coverings. She uses dovetailing as a joining technique, in this way creating interesting transitions between parquet and vinyl flooring, stone tiles and carpet, which she highlights as a creative element. Her flooring for multifunctional spaces has a unique haptic quality, which can be felt as you walk on it. Being laid without adhesive, it is also suitable for temporary use.
Victoria Wilmotte from Paris developed a new look for the stone floor. She interprets the traditional materials stone and marble in her own way, by using artificial resin to transform individual pieces into novel floor panels. She took inspiration from historical stone floors from the Louvre. She shifts the focus onto the joins, previously seen more to disrupt the look of the floor, as a connecting element, lending them additional emphasis with the use of bold colors that form an attractive contrast to the stone.
Inspired by the Merzbau
The installation that Jane Briggs and Christy Cole showed at DOMOTEX is inspired by Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau, or Merz building, in Hanover, a space-consuming installation stretching over the floor, walls and ceiling. As such, the fishbone parquet designed by the duo from Glasgow is intended to be suitable for all surfaces in the space. It features digitally printed graphics in 3D look that call to mind sections of the Merzbau and can be further developed in line with a client’s own personal ideas. In the exhibition a 3D form consisting of geometric elements projected into the space, creating a varied game of light and shadow. Cardboard collages such as this served as the photo motif for the parquet flooring. In a real space the 3D elements could be made of coated steel and extend over all four walls and the ceiling as in Schwitters’ installation – and in so doing generate a special sense of space. All kinds of expressive forms are conceivable.