Those Who Listen— Learn

Those Who Listen— Learn

By Annette M. Callari, Allied ASID; CMG

Designers' meeting sponsored by KarndeanIt was such an honor to be asked to host the 2016 Design Council weekend in Las Vegas this month. Karndean Design Floors sponsored the event and invited a chosen group of commercial designers to share what they need, want and use in specifying commercial floors coverings.Several of the designers specialize in hospitality, including restaurants, clubs, hotels and casinos. Others were experts in the multi-family housing market. Both factions came together to share their “wish list”when it came to luxury vinyl woods and stones.

Everyone enjoyed the Friday night glittering panoramic view of Las Vegas while dining at Nove – an elaborate, Italian-inspired fine dining establishment at the pinnacle of the Palms Hotel. We all agreed, it was the most authentic Italian menu ever experienced, and the service was beyond stellar. If you want to feel like royalty, Nove exists to create that feeling for you. A mini-spa morning was then followed by lunch and a creative brainstorming session where ideas were freely shared. I presented the 2016 design trends report and brought real-life examples in both fashions and flooring to share. What fun!

Karndean’s savvy marketing experts gave the designers a sneak peek at the newly launched vinyl-woods in their DaVinci and VanGogh collections (not to mention the top secret Kaleidoscope collection). That got them all excitedly talking and commenting as to which projects they are working on where these newcomers might shine. All the designers generously shared their insights, and were asked what they would like Karndean to consider for future introductions. That part I cannot share with you, but there is certainly an important lesson to be learned from all of this.

Our industry has a wealth of experience and creative wisdom available from the design community—our customers. The most important thing we can do is LISTEN. Rather than fall prey to “the ivory tower syndrome”– approaching product development autonomously from within, Karndean demonstrated the value in truly listening to their valued designers’ opinions. We all came away from the experience realizing something very important had transpired. Good job all!

So What’s Next in Luxury Vinyl Flooring?

What's new in the LVT industry - floortalk.wfca.orgWhen at a party, it’s not at all unusual to have guests ask me interior design questions—it’s kind of like getting free legal advice from a lawyer, I guess. But I really don’t mind (as long as I’m not cornered and asked to do on-the-spot space planning). I’m kidding, that hasn’t happened—yet. So it was pretty interesting when one of my savvy friends asked me what’s on the horizon for luxury vinyl floors. He was pretty sure everything that can be done, has been done. Well, I have news. High definition film is capturing the essence of natural textiles and interpreting that into luxury vinyl tiles.

Manufacturers are bringing large format tiles and tile planking to the LVT portfolio of products. This is exactly the direction predicted by Color Marketing Group over a year ago. Of all the products that make up the flooring sector, luxury vinyl tiles and wood-look planks are still commanding increased market share year over year. If you are not in the flooring industry, you may not know exactly why that is happening. Here’s some markers that will explain why:

LVT is a problem solver. It’s tough enough to be used in high-traffic commercial settings. So residentially, it goes without saying that it is family and pet friendly. Resists scuffs, scratches, cleans with only a neutral pH cleaner and provides years of durability and ease of maintenance.

Have you seen the huge strides in product development for LVT? Stunning facsimiles of the most beautiful natural stones and woods nature has to offer are replicated with stunning accuracy in LVP/LVT. These products, installed with manufacturer-recommended adhesives, are undistinguishable from the real thing. No hollow sound when walking on it, warmer than real stone or tile, and offers some acoustic benefit as well. With a resume like that, it is no wonder this is the fastest growing product in the market.

Commercially, it goes where natural materials fear to tread. That sounds a bit dramatic, but true. I work with design specifiers and architects daily, and commercially speaking, LVT and LVP area solution product for them. You will see high-grade luxury vinyl tile and planks in hospitals, senior living facilities, restaurants, schools, corporate buildings, multi-family, churches, and so much more. The designer gets the rich aesthetic she/he is looking for, without sacrificing performance. The higher the topical “mil layer”, the more suitable it is for commercial uses. I always recommend 20 mil or above for commercial use.

I have witnessed an important trend in the hospitality industry as well just the last few years. Working closely with top designers across the country, luxury vinyl woods are being specified for guest rooms in higher-end hotels! It makes perfect sense and is very gratifying to see this happening. The hospitality sector wants to offer a product that is clean, antiseptic, won’t harbor allergens, easily cleaned, durable and yet, extremely homey. Put a checkmark next to every one of those bullet points, as luxury vinyl floors meet the need. I am currently working on a 700 room established hotel in San Diego that is using luxury vinyl wood in all of their rooms. The life cycle of this material makes that investment not only wise, but a money-saver in the long run over other flooring materials.

So, let me share with you just one new collection from Karndean DesignFloors that exemplifies the newest direction for LVT.