The Top 250 Design Survey - October 2012

By Darius Helm

 

The commercial market may be smaller than it was five years ago, but there’s still a good deal of activity, with renovation work outpacing new construction. Some sectors are gaining, like higher education, acute care and senior living, while others, like retail and K-12, are flagging. The corporate sector is holding its own, and hospitality appears to be gaining steam from pent-up demand.

In terms of the A&D community, this year’s survey suggests that designers are more focused than ever on the business of securing and completing projects and less on ambitious aesthetic expression. Budgets remain conservative, credit is tight, and it’s all about doing more with less. One word that has just about vanished from designers’ lexicons is luxe. No one is talking about opulence or over-the-top installations, almost as though it’s in poor taste to be extravagant in these frugal times. 

The focus is on quality materials with high performance attributes and long lifecycles, with the differentiating factor more on intelligent, thoughtful design than on luxurious statements. With an uptick in hospitality projects, it will be interesting to see if the same approach holds sway, since that’s the one sector that has a hard time staying away from opulent expression.

SECTOR OVERVIEW
One market doing well right now and expected to show strong growth for the next decade or two is senior living, a market that seems almost limitless in terms of applications and design directions. Because today’s and tomorrow’s seniors are more active than seniors from years past and are more demanding in terms of their environment, the sector draws on products from many different markets. It includes looks typically associated with everything from the residential market to the acute care market, including products traditionally found in hospitality, retail, fitness and even higher education. 

However, senior living applications generally call for more slip resistant, cushioned flooring, and the colors and designs have to take into account the eyesight limitations of aging populations. 

Another sector in the middle of a long run of sustained growth is acute care, both because of aging populations and a need to renovate obsolete facilities with more up-to-date healthcare models. Today’s hospitals and clinics require much more sophisticated design, with less institutional patterns and warmer colorways, and at the same time the performance of the flooring is more important than ever.

One sector that by rights should be rebounding by now is retail, but by all accounts it still remains very sluggish. Part of the problem is downsizing, but it’s also the shrinking margin issue. Consumers are making less money and are consuming less. They’re consuming more cautiously and increasingly turning to the Internet, and at the same time the cost of products is going up, so retailers are squeezed at both ends and focused on lowering overheads to stabilize their shrinking margins (a problem not exclusive to the retail sector). But it’s a bit of a Catch-22 because getting traffic into stores is more competitive than ever before, and that puts pressure on retailers to spruce up their locations to both make their stores more attractive and put out signals that they are successful.

For the complete Design Survey results, see the October 2012 issue of Floor Focus Magazine. 

Copyright 2012 Floor Focus



Other Archived Articles

Former Starnet Chairman Wins Mayoral Election   Full Article
Point Pleasant, NJ, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Former Starnet chairman Bob Sabosik won his bid for mayor in Tuesday's elections in Point Pleasant.

Mohawk CEO Lorberbaum Discusses Firm's Growth   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Mohawk Industries CEO Jeff Lorberbaum told the Chattanooga Rotary Club that his firm is investing $500 million in its existing businesses in a bet on an improving economy.

Economy Adds 214K Jobs, Unemployment Falls   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Employers added 214,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate fell again, the Labor Department said.

Attendance at Cersaie Rises This Year   Full Article
Bologna, Italy, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Attendance at Cersaie 2014, the international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings held in Bologna in September, once again topped 100,000 visits, according to organizers.

Builders More Confident in Senior Housing Market   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Builder confidence in the 55+ housing market was up again in the third quarter, according to the latest release of NAHB’s 55+ Housing Market Index.

Housing Markets Improving at a Gradual Pace   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Markets in 59 of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in the third quarter.

Planned Job Cuts Surge in October   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Planned job cuts jumped 68% in October to the second-highest total this year, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Initial Jobless Claims Fall Again   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 to 278,000 in the week ended Nov. 1, the Labor Department said

Grosser Named Tile Person of Year   Full Article
San Antonio, TX, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Tile Council of North America presented its Tile Person of the Year award to Donato Grosser at the Total Solutions Plus event.

NWFA Renews Agreement With Wildlife Fund   Full Article
St. Louis, MO, Nov. 6, 2014 -- The National Wood Flooring Association said it has renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with the World Wildlife Fund.

Tarkett Hosts Second Sustainability Summit   Full Article
Chagrin Falls, OH, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Tarkett recently hosted its second annual Sustainability Summit in Cleveland, Ohio.

Gerflor Acquires Connor Sport Court   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Gerflor said it has acquired Connor Sport Court of Amasa, Michigan.

Armstrong Illinois Plant Wins Sustainability Award   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Armstrong Flooring said its Kankakee, Illinois manufacturing facility has received the 2014 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award.

Services Sector Continues To Grow in October   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 5, 2014 -- The services sector of the economy continued to expand in October but at a slower pace, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Mortgage Applications Fall Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell last week as interest rates increased, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Businesses Add 230,000 Jobs in October   Full Article
Roseland, NJ, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Private employers added 230,000 jobs in October, payroll processor ADP said.

Earthwerks Names Head of Product Development   Full Article
Houston, TX, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Earthwerks has named Lindsey Nisbet head of product development and marketing strategy.

Linron Names de Beaumont VP Business Development   Full Article
Houston, TX, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Linron Co. has named Gilles de Beaumont, vice president of business development.

Domotex Asia Anticipates Larger Wood, Laminate Area   Full Article
Shanghai, China, Nov. 4, 2014 -- It will require four dedicated halls to house just the wood and laminate exhibitions at Domotex asia/Chinafloor’s 17th annual flooring show March 24-26 in Shanghai, organizers said.

Factory Orders Decline in September   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 4, 2014 -- New orders for manufactured goods fell for second straight month in September on softness in the aircraft sector.