As we stand at the beginning of 2021, it is important to draw inspiration from the lessons that 2020 taught us if we are to purposefully strive for pioneering design in the year ahead. Few people know this as well as Cape Town based interior creative and behavioural specialist, Kim Williams. Kim believes that only by reflecting on our design influences, can we ground our individual styles and lay the foundation for true innovation.
We spoke to Kim’s about the top flooring design trends to take from 2020 and how they are likely to grow and evolve in 2021:
1. What international and local flooring trends will inspire us in the coming year?
Internationally, designers have increasingly been focused on the circular economy – longevity and sustainability. We have also seen a societal shift towards more mindful living in our homes and the intentionality behind our spaces has increased in importance.
Trends such as mindful living and biophilia present new and intelligent ways for designers to satisfy their clients’ need for comfort in their personal spaces by incorporating elements of warm minimalism and nature to create a relaxed space.
We have also seen the world embrace pattern in flooring, particularly with classic styles that create a modern retro aesthetic. Many modern vinyl flooring options present an easily customisable, sustainable, easy-to-install and cost-effective way to achieve a variety of styles from a classic to modern feel.
2. How will flooring be treated as part of the overall approach to design for commercial, hospitality and in the home?
Flooring grounds the design palette, which is why it is usually where I start. When creating the design palette, the two most important things to consider are your floors and your walls because they dominate so much surface area and ultimately create the structure for your design to come alive.
From a commercial perspective, consider hard-wearing materials for high traffic areas that will last over time. Commercial flooring whilst it should be practical grounds the design concept. Retail spaces, for example, are about building brand identity and working with long-standing products that should have at least a 10 year lifespan.
In the hospitality space, creating an ambiance within high traffic areas that is desirable, memorable and impactful is extremely important in creating brand resonance. A space that encourages guests to enjoy the experience is ultimately an important tool in inspiring them to return.
Last but certainly not least, our home spaces are very much about how people connect and behave within the space and the personal identity they want to create.
Flooring is also one of the most expensive elements you put into your space, which is why your floors need to have longevity. I combine high-quality products and classic design innovatively, so that my clients’ investment in their flooring stands the test of time. They can simply upgrade decorative elements such as rugs over 5 to 10 years as their taste evolves.
3. What exciting new products can we expect to see?
There are many exciting products out there.
Vinyl is suitable for high traffic floors, can be laid quickly and easily and comes in a vast array of colours. Products, like those from Gerflor, skyrocketed in popularity as their range expanded.
Natural materials such as wood or faux wood flooring, Travertine or stone and raw concrete all have the benefit of providing that natural element, and if cared for properly, have longevity that makes them incredibly sustainable.
Wood continues to evolve. We are going to see more sustainable options as well as anti-bacterial products that have become more important at this time when elements associated with our health in our spaces need to be considered.
Stone, as it is a classic element, has become exceedingly popular and is one of my personal favourites.
The concrete floor has remained trendy as it allows the use of natural materials and a mix of multiple colours to obtain a specific aesthetic. How the sun interacts with the floor to provide heating and cooling will continue to influence product evolution.
4. Are there any specific trends that are gaining popularity? Why?
Vinyl is gaining popularity. I use vinyl a lot in my designs because it allows me to bring in decorative elements in a cost-effective way. It is quite easy to install, can be printed with a wood look, is easy to maintain, hygienic and soundproof. It is also a great insulator, which makes your space more energy efficient. And if you do not like it after a few years, it is quite easy to replace.
I think we will see bolder patterns in flooring, such as in the ranges by Evalution Flooring, and decorative element for owners who are discerning and want to be more expressive in their interiors and workspaces. I think there will be a trend towards objects being closer to the floor as we look for a more grounded feeling in our workspaces.
5. How important is colour in flooring?
Colour is extremely important as it sets the tone. You will either go with a floor that has warmer tones or one that uses cooler hues, deciding your palettes upfront is a great starting point.
If you think about the large surface area of a floor, it is no surprise that it should be considered in the beginning of the design process. It is also important to remember that floors do not need to be a vast expanse of one solid material. Rugs fill an important role in creating dimension in a flooring scheme.
Getting back to crafts and handmade items in our spaces, the rug is becoming more and more popular. The amazing way in which polypropylene is being used in indoor and outdoor rugs, aside from being a lovely recyclable product, presents a wonderful way to bring in decorative elements. Hertex has a fantastic range as well as Airloom, who are using local designers – something that I am fond of – to make their products affordable.
6. Are there any major changes in flooring colour palettes and why?
Using a natural or softer colouring for most of your floor space to create flow throughout your home is a popular concept that will continue to be applied. For example, laying one product such as a vinyl throughout the house creates cohesion and is practical enough to be used in high traffic and wet areas. There is a lot of new technology and innovation around vinyl products.
Bringing in decorative elements in smaller spaces such as an entrance or bathroom helps to zone space and gives variety to materials without looking chaotic. This allows the incorporation of pattern and colour which is becoming more popular as we see colour make a come back. New patterned tiles will continue to be popular.
There has been a rise in the importance of entrance halls and using this space to present the personality of the home as well as prepare guests to enter a space. Bolder finishing is becoming more popular and there is a strong move away from grey towards warmer tones as we connect more to biophilia and mindful living concepts while striving to create spaces that facilitate connection. Terrazzo patterns became very popular in 2020 and will continue to be this year, we will also see the introduction of other natural products such as travertine but in more modern finishes become more popular again.
7. What is the most significant shift in flooring design/application?
People have become bolder and decorative patterning in floors is on the rise. We have seen way more use of vinyl in a pattern, particularly in commercial spaces. We are also seeing more cladding of floor products onto walls to make spaces look bigger or add warmth and texture.
This is true for South Africans and the world over, even though as South Africans we tend to be more conservative in our design choices. We generally go for more classic looks such as wood, as we weigh up the trade-off between price, product, longevity and look.
8. What role does sustainability play in the local flooring product choices?
Over time, we have seen a slow yet significant shift towards more sustainable products. However, for those who have the budget for wood, it will always be a classic look as we have seen with oak floors that have remained a firm favourite through the decades. Specifically, accessibility to wood flooring will improve as we see more sustainable products, such as bamboo flooring, innovation in vinyls, cemcrete products that give us the beauty of natural products for less grow in the market.
9. What are the key considerations when looking for flooring that will be timeless?
• Start with your wish list for your perfect floor. Consider all options available to you from the real thing to look-alike products.
• There is always a trade-off between price, sustainability and design longevity so considering the overall look of a space over a few years is important.
• In commercial spaces, we look at the brand, how long the design must last (will usually be refreshed every 5-10 years) and whether the floor can be incorporated into a future design. Stone, for example, is difficult to replace when compared to vinyl.
• If you are searching for your “forever” floor, purchase what you desire. Buy what really works with your design and is available in a quality that will last for a long time.
10. What other flooring news can you share with our readers?
Readers should be on the lookout for a greater variety of beautiful decorative tiles. Terrazzo Flooring continues to gain popularity, particularly in our local market for its likeness to stone so add decorative tiles to bring in some subtle colour.
There is more focus on raw and natural materials, hand-made tiles and beautiful playful vinyls.
Given that we spent the year disconnected from each other and the world, our spaces will need to be designed to provide us with many different sensations from relief to connection, relaxation to invigoration, which is a challenge that poses totally unique, and hopefully fruitful, circumstances for designers the world over.
Find inspiration wherever you can, but most of all, focus on connection and invigoration, and the ability of the floor to be incorporated into different styles.
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