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

Builder Sentiment Falls, but Conditions Still Seen as Favorable   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 16, 2015—U.S. homebuilder sentiment declined for a third straight month in March, but more builders still view market conditions as favorable, says the National Association of Home Builders.

Factory Production Declines for Third Consecutive Month   Full Article
New York, NY, March 16, 2015—Factory production in the U.S. declined 0.2% in February for a third consecutive month, says Bloomberg News.

Sale of HUD Loans Helps Over 16K Avoid Foreclosure   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 16, 2015—The sale of $16.7 billion in nonperforming loans by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department helped the owners of about 16,700 homes avoid foreclosure, reports Bloomberg Business.

Altro Safety Flooring Introduces Tape Installation System   Full Article
Wilmington, MA, March 16, 2015—Altro Safety Flooring has introduced a new adhesive free, tape installation system for resilient flooring called Altro XpressLay, which minimizes installation downtime.

Gerflor Expands Sales Team to Cover Entire U.S.   Full Article
Bensenville, IL, March 16, 2015—Gerflor USA has added 14 reps to its Gerflor USA sales team to cover the entire United States and provide additional reach in major markets.

Wholesale Prices Slid in February   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 13, 2015—Wholesale prices fell 0.5% in February, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unexpected drop represents the fourth consecutive down month, as measured by the Labor Department’s producer price index.

Interface's Claims New Microsfera Has Lowest Carbon Footprint Ever   Full Article
LaGrange, GA, March 13, 2015—Interface has unveiled its latest product, Microsfera, which the firm says has the smallest carbon footprint of any carpet tile in history.

Ecore Revamps Business Structure   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, March 13, 2015—Ecore is making changes to its business structure in conjunction with IHRSA 2015 by launching a new category of sports and fitness flooring called Ecore Athletic.

J+J Flooring Video Wins Gold in AVA Digital Awards   Full Article
Dalton, GA, March 13, 2015—J+J Flooring Group video was named gold winner in the corporate image category of the AVA Digital Awards.

Average Mortgage Rates Rising, Buoyed by Strong Jobs Report   Full Article
McLean, VA, March 13, 2015—Average fixed rate mortgage rates are moving higher amid a strong jobs report and bringing mortgage rates back to where they were at the start of 2015, according to the results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Trade Sales & Manufacturer Shipments Edge Down in January   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—The combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for January was estimated at $1,302.5 billion, down 2.0% from December 2014 and down 0.3% from January 2014, says the Commerce Department.

Retail Trade Sales Down from Previous Month But Up YOY   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—Retail trade sales were down 0.6% (±0.5%) from January 2015 but up 1.0% (±0.9%) over 2014, says the Commerce Department.

LL's Free Air Quality Testing Won't Meet CARB Standards   Full Article
New York, NY, March 12, 2015—Lumber Liquidators will offer free indoor air quality testing for its consumers--conducted to workplace standards,-- but OSHA's thresholds for formaldehyde in the workplace are not as stringent as CARB's for the home.

Parterre's Vertu Resilient Plank Wins ADEX Recognition   Full Article
Wilmington, MA, March 12, 2015—Parterre’s Vertu Resilient Plank won two ADEX awards.

Consumer Survey Reveals Optimism about Housing Market   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—Consumer optimism toward the economy is growing and appears to be contributing to further improvement in overall housing sentiment, according to results from Fannie Mae's February 2015 National Housing Survey.

Millennials Account for Largest Share of Home Buyers, Says NAR   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—The millennial generation represented the largest share of recent buyers, according to the 2015 National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study.

Three Tarkett Rubber Textures Win ADEX Platinum   Full Article
Chagrin Falls, OH, March 12, 2015—Tarkett received the Platinum Award for Design Excellence (ADEX) for its new range of rubber textures: Brushed, Concrete and Leather.

Fuse Alliance Focuses on Digital Marketing to Raise Awareness   Full Article
Laguna Niguel, CA, March 12, 2015—Fuse Alliance, a member-owned organization of professional, commercial flooring contractors, unveiled a next generation public facing website that clarifies the group's target audience and services offered.

U.S. Container Imports Down Over 5% in 2015   Full Article
Minneapolis, MN, March 12, 2015—Total U.S. container imports are down over 5% this year, compared to January and February of 2014, reports Zepol. Nearly the entire decline in imports is attributed to the West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Armstrong Top Execs Offered Retention Award to Stay Through Spinoff   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, March 11, 2015—Armstrong World Industries is giving three of its top executives an incentive to stay at the company through the spinoff of its flooring business into a new, independent company next year, reports Lancaster Online.