Trends (2012 & Beyond) And Their Impact On Floor Covering

Submitted by Annette M. Callari, Allied ASID; Chair Holder CMG

PEOPLE IN MOTIONYou’ve heard the term “think outside the box”.  I prefer to call it reframed thinking, and some of the best reframed thinkers I know are my fellow-members in Color Marketing Group International.  We have to identify key marketing trends even before they become reality, so we can interpret future influences and their impact on color.  Here are just a few of the insights color professionals shared with me in Portland, Oregon:

We’ve all had to become thrifty through this Great Recession and have learned to do more with less, which means recycling products, repurposing old products, and replacing things less frequently.  That has required a huge dose of creativity, and the challenge extends to manufacturers of new products as well.  The number of new products coming into the market with high recycled content is amazing.  I’m referring to carpet and tile especially.  Keeping used carpet out of landfills has a huge impact on our environment, and reinventing old carpet (breaking it down into its raw molecular state and rebuilding it into new carpet, or other new-life goods) is not only possible, but will become the norm in the future.  The goal is to use fewer new raw materials (especially oil in the case of creating nylon) AND to keep thousands of tons of disposed product out of landfills. 

Imagine sidewalks that could harvest the energy created by pedestrians.  Or pairs of shoes that collect energy that could be used to charge a cell phone or laptop.  Sounds wild, but it’s highly possible.  These same ideas can impact manufacturing processes on a much larger scale, cutting down on the resources required to produce products.  On a consumer level, this could even translate to floors that are warmed by the very action of a family walking across them.  Again, think outside of the box. 

Less is more, and we are de-cluttering our lives and our homes.  What we will invest in is well-made products that have a timeless quality to them.  No fads, just authenticity, based on inherent quality and solid design.  This especially pertains to floor coverings.  Hardwood floors are meant to last a lifetime.  Consumers see this as an investment that is worthy of their hard-earned dollars, and manufacturers are responding to that demand.  Soft surfaces (broadloom carpet and area rugs) are also rising to the occasion through better technology, and color palettes with longevity.  Marrying aesthetics to superior performance is the goal which has been met, and will most likely be surpassed in the future.

You might be thinking this blog is bordering on science fiction, but just think of the amazing advances you’ve already witnessed in your lifetime.  The next five years should be quite interesting, and I feel confident in saying that the floor covering industry is definitely gearing up creatively to deliver the goods.

For more information on flooring visit the World Floor Covering Association’s Consumer Carpet & Flooring Guide.

Soft-Handed, But Hard-Performing!!!

By Annette M. Callari, Allied ASID; CMG

SHAW5478_Environmental chart_v4.inddNow you’re talking!  I mean that literally.  We are getting some great questions and comments on FaceBook from you, our readers–and everybody at FloorTalk loves that.  It lets us know that you are really out there, reading, thinking, and understanding how important floor coverings are to your design.  We’ve had a request to address soft-handed carpets and the pros and cons of these styles.  All of the major fiber producers have a version of a soft-to-the-touch yarn system that equates to comfort and luxury underfoot.

Shaw Industries’ Anso (Type 6) nylon, is one of the best on the market.  The Anso Caress brand was a pioneer in this area.  Introduced in 1999, it has a proven track record that “soft” can also interpret to durable.  There is a mistaken conception that the softness of a carpet has something to do with a finishing rinse on the yarns.  That is not the case.  The denier (thickness) of each fiber that makes up the yarn is ultra fine. Shaw then adds a tight twist to each yarn bundle and tufts it into carpet.  The twist builds in the performance while the fine-denier yarn system provides the soft hand.  Ultimately this combination provides the best of both worlds for the consumer. The Anso Caress brand offers a 5-year limited texture retention warranty, 10 years for soil and stain resistance, and 10 years for abrasive wear resistance.  The texture retention warranty addresses the overall appearance of the carpet, which gives this product a lot of credibilility.

Another brand leader from Shaw Industries is their EverTouch. Here’s what Shaw has to say about EverTouch:

 It’s exactly what carpet was meant to be – wonderfully soft and exceptionally durable. EverTouch carpets are crafted with fine-denier filaments.   The smaller denier, which is a weight-per-unit-length measurement, produces the supple touch, while advanced yarn engineering accounts for the superior durability.  In contrast to their softness, EverTouch carpets are tough enough for any room in the home. As with all Shaw carpets, each style is rigorously tested and given an appearance-retention performance rating. Test results confirm that EverTouch styles perform as well or better than comparable products made from traditional nylon fiber systems.

In early 2006, Mohawk Industries and DuPont filed a joint petition for the FTC to establish a new generic fiber subclass name under the “polyester” classification.  That is significant because it means their Triexta fiber has performance qualities above and beyond regular polyester carpet fibers.  Triexta is the “ingredient” used in Mohawk’s SmartStrand and SmartStrand with DuPont Sorona carpets.  Not only is this fiber type totally renewable, the soft-handed comfort is exceptional.  Mohawk has good reason to be proud of their patented Triexta.

Anticipating growing consumer preference toward an even softer carpet experience, in January of this year Beaulieu Carpet Mill created its softest Bliss collection ever—–Bliss by Beaulieu “SoftSense”.  The line offers 48 solid colors and another 14 berber colorations.  Beaulieu loaded-up their new SoftSense collection with an impressive array of standard features. For the first time in Beaulieu’s history, the company offered a Lifetime Stain – No Exclusions Warranty. Additionally, 3M Scotchgard Protector is also standard on every SoftSense carpet. These soft-oriented carpets are made from 100% nylon and multi-colors are solution dyed polyester. 

The technologies that brought soft-handed carpets to the marketplace are among the best of this decade.  We like to “live” on our floors–playing with the kids, watching TV, enjoying video games—it’s all more fun on plush, silky-soft carpet.  Marrying technology to performance has moved “soft” to the top of our shopping list as carpet consumers.  Performance, durability, and comfort–now we can have it all.

For more information on flooring visit the World Floor Covering Association’s Consumer Carpet & Flooring Guide.