Discovering everything there is to know about carpets and carpet tiles within South Africa and the trends that affect outcome.

The versatility and diverse choices offered by carpets and carpet tiles have been fully embraced by South African carpeting manufacturers. FLOORS magazine approached several prominent leaders within the field of carpets and carpet tiles to find out everything there is to know about this particular industry and how the carpet choices that specifiers make in the year ahead will be further enhanced.

Each manufacturer has a unique voice based on own research and applications. Accordingly, the replies of each individual company will be covered in depth, with all contributing flooring organisations having responded to the same questions.

1.    What must the commercial industry know about wall-to-wall carpets and carpet tiles – focusing on the carpet industry as it is now and where it will be in a year’s time?
Bernd De Smedt, Sales & Marketing Director at Van Dyck: “Whereas colour has always been a major factor in a product range, new trends are all about varying shapes and custom designs as far as carpet tiles are concerned. The aim is to offer a diverse choice of colour, structure and pattern, offering several creative possibilities that can transform the mood of an interior environment while defining a particular space.

The goal is always to introduce greater carpet design variety to the flooring industry. Using the same geometric principles that have made modular carpet so adaptable and kept it inherently flexible, our goal is to come together to create limitless flooring layouts by offering rectangular carpet tiles.

Carpet tiles are enjoying increasing market share against other floorcoverings mainly because they offer great versatility and practicality in virtually any contract application. Carpet tiles are also very easy to install as they are small and manageable.”

Greg Barry, National Sales Manager and Frank Moffat, Chief Executive at Belgotex Floors: “Carpet manufacturing is truly becoming an art form with unprecedented design flexibility thanks to the ever-changing technology. There’s a definite trend towards softer tufted carpets as opposed to hard needlepunch ranges, combinations with other floor types such as mixing carpet tiles with LVT, and pops of accent colours to differentiate areas.

Modern tufting machines allow for precise colour placement in both modular and broadloom ranges, resulting in a finer, more attractive finish. The colour is specifically placed instead of hidden, allowing for more intricate patterns or designs.

“This new innovative tufting technology gives customers unlimited design potential in a softer finish, offering better pattern and colour definition than ever before.”

Olivia Munchin at Nouwens Carpets: “In spite of the exciting new textile floorcoverings we see daily, the very basic principles for specifying a carpet / tile still apply today and will do for years to come – selection of fibre type, texture, construction, as well as colour and pattern needs to take into consideration the nature of traffic and soiling the finished floor will be subjected to.

Equally important is professional installation and the implementation of an effective cleaning and maintenance routine from day one. This will ensure the lasting good looks which affect the overall image to both employees and visitors. It is also important to note that there are magnificent local products available that compare very favourably to similar imported styles – for the benefit of all, we should be supporting our local carpet industry more!.”

Nicholas Nouwens at MONN: “With the increasing popularity of carpet tiles and carpets in commercial and contract installations, it is highly recommended that specifiers and users make use of reputable manufacturers when considering soft floorcoverings for demanding end use in commercial installations. This will ensure that any installation is backed up with a sound knowledge base and technical know-how.

Commercial installations often focus specification around price-point. It is vitally important that specifiers not only consider the technical requirements of each installation, but also ensure that specified products have been recently tested and conform to applicable standards in terms of location grading, stability and VOC compliance.”

2.    What are some of the latest installation techniques available to the industry?
Bernd: “Carpet tiles can be colour and texture mixed and matched for a specific effect to suit current or proposed décor. Apart from their convenience, carpet tiles are also appreciated for their design versatility and the various directions of being able to lay them (monolithic, tessellated, ashlar, brick-lay or random), which can create different patterned effects.”

Greg and Frank: “Designers and architects are increasingly using the design capabilities of carpet to create organic interiors that are both functional and fashionable.

Gone are the conventional interiors dominated by square offices off long passages – now replaced by more open-plan, flowing “areas”. Spaces are being delineated or demarcated through the creative use of pattern and colour, combination of different materials or textures and different tile sizes or lay directions to produce striking décor effects on the floor.”

Chevron / Herringbone and Pixellated Designs
“Unlimited by traditional ‘square’ or linear designs, carpet tiles of various sizes are being used to produce the fashionable herringbone or ‘chevron’ designs. Multi-directional installation using various tile sizes or combinations is also innovative and unique.

The pixellated design effect can also be created by using different shades of the same colour together, or the graduated fade-in/fade-out design.”

Colour Placement
“Accent colours in contemporary shades are being used creatively either to differentiate zones or departments, or brighten up large expanses. These add pops or blocks of colour to the contemporary light or dark grey base, which also features a subtle design variation including fade-in/fade-out shading, scratched, dappled or geometric designs, amongst others.”

Combination of materials and textures
“Floors are no longer limited to single flooring types, and combining different materials such as carpets with vinyl or carpets with artificial turf is becoming more common. The use of hi-low pile or level-cut-loop (LCL) tufting techniques is a variation of this trend. Different pile heights or combinations of cut pile alternating with loop pile create patterns and texture too. This adds both texture and “rhythm” to an interior and effectively delineates areas and creates a smooth transition between one area and the next.”

Olivia: “Technical aspects of carpet and tile installation today, have basically not changed much in recent years, but the creative use of tile shapes and combinations of textures, designs and colours can sometimes take your breath away…

Carpet tiles are easy to install, remove and replace. As well as offering a high degree of flexibility. The main laying patterns are quarter-turn, ashlar, brick, non-directional and monolithic.”

Quarter Turn: Tiles turned at 90 degrees to one another – also known as Chequer Board or Tessellated.
Monolithic: Arrows should all point in the same direction – also known as Broadloom or Sheet.
Brick: Arrows should all point in the same direction with the tile bond displaced by half a tile in the width direction.
Ashlar: Arrows should all point in the same direction with the tile bond displaced by half a tile in the length direction.
Non Directional: Tiles installed without regard to direction and orientation.”

Nicholas: “We focus on creating a viable soft flooring solution with great colour and style flexibility for a vast number of project and installation sizes. For example, by offering each colour-way in a packed quantity of only 3m², it gives installations of any size the possibility to explore the various styling effects and installation methods attainable with a specific product.”

3.    What can the flooring industry expect in terms of carpet tile size, colours, patterns, innovative techniques and installations?
Bernd: “The flooring sector can expect different shapes coming together to create limitless flooring layouts by offering rectangular carpet tiles and other shapes. The demand for colourful, animated and even personalised designs will take over as green living peaks even more.
For example, the choice of colour can reflect any corporate identity, while style, texture and pattern can be used to create a range of moods. New manufacturing equipment makes it possible to create unlimited designs and patterns. Fresh decorating colours and surprising blends of textures are now the new modern interior trends that are transforming traditional dull spaces into colourful and versatile creations.”

Greg and Frank: “Our modern tufting technology enables us to create carpet tiles that are exciting allowing us to pattern in repeats that are suitable for modular manufacture.

That translates into more design flexibility in modular carpeting with better colour and pattern definition. Colours have morphed from beige-brown bases towards the very versatile ‘fifty shades of grey’ with highlight colours in bright pops of yellow, red, turquoise, green or blue and purple. Monochromatic schemes with plenty of contrast or tonal shading are also gaining popularity.

We’ll be monitoring the international ‘plank’ trend in carpeting with interest and may consider our own option in future should the demand arise.”

Olivia: “South African manufacturers collectively operate almost all the types of carpet manufacturing equipment used internationally. This enables the local industry to supply colour, design and modular tile shapes so sought after by our décor and design fraternity nowadays. Being a vertical mill with over 50 years of carpet crafting experience, Nouwens looks forward to producing its fair share of innovative textile flooring solutions.”

Nicholas: “The local Commercial flooring market is definitely demanding far more dynamic, sophisticated and engaging floor spaces. Trends in Central Europe and the States have shown that irregular and non-traditional carpet tile modules have started to gain favour.

Such demands and trends prompted companies such as MONN to embrace innovative technologies to serve the demand for slender dimensioned, plank-like carpet tile modules. Slender modules also allow designers and fitters to explore a number of new laying methods, such as fine-herringbone and basket-weave patterns, previously not possible with traditional carpet tile modules, while at the same time bringing a definite new dimension to current laying styles.

Colours are also tending towards for more complex and earthy tones with colourways that provide incredibly refined shading and colour selection. Colours also have to be cross-compatible, so that multiple colours can be combined into a single floor space. That said, the addition of contemporary, richly coloured accent tiles does bring a different dynamic appeal to the aesthetics of any modular floorcovering.”

Acknowledgement and thanks are given to Bernd De Smedt, Greg Barry, Frank Moffat, Olivia Munchin and Nicholas Nouwens for the information contained in this article.