The Top 250 Design Survey - October 2010

By Darius Helm

While 2009 was the toughest year in recent memory for the design community, thanks to the recession and the credit crisis, this year has shown some uneven signs of stability, though it’s too early to start talking about any meaningful growth. However, designers report that one of the hardest hit segments, corporate, has seen an uptick in activity, and that’s good news.

Earlier this year, signs were pointing to a recovery, with many economic barometers trending in the right direction. A&D firms had stopped letting designers go and some were even rehiring. There were reports here and there of credit loosening, and projects on hold for the last couple of years finally getting going again.

However, while there are still indications that the economy is moving in the right direction, the general consensus among economic experts seems to be that a recovery will take longer than anticipated. At best, progress is expected to be uneven, and 2011 is unlikely to be the golden year the economy surges forward, everybody makes money, and the economic woes are visible only through the rearview mirror. 

Instead, it’s likely that we’re facing a year of modest growth, another year where we’re looking at ways of reducing costs, of generating business, another year of intense competition.

One of the clearest indications of the state of the commercial flooring industry is the increased focus on vinyl flooring shown by this year’s survey respondents. Vinyl is a value proposition; it performs well, lasts a long time and is very affordable. This year, 44% of respondents reported using more luxury vinyl tile than last year, compared to 36% in the 2009 survey, putting luxury vinyl third on the list of hot products, and 29% reported using more sheet vinyl, compared to 27% last year.

Even more significantly, when we asked designers what flooring category they were the most impressed with, for the first time ever in the history of the survey, the category that got the biggest response was vinyl. 

In another sign of how tough things are, this year’s survey shows signs of a faltering commitment to sustainability. Though the A&D community has played, and continues to play, a central role in the greening of the built environment, this year not a single designer named a manufacturer’s commitment to sustainability as the most important factor in deciding whom to do business with. And only 61% consider the green elements of a floorcovering as important information to know when specifying product, compared to 73% two years ago.

For the complete survey results, see the October 2010 issue of Floor Focus Magazine.

Copyright 2010 Floor Focus 

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