Contract-New Products 2020: A look at the products and programs that would have been released at this year’s NeoCon - June 2020
By Meg Scarbrough
For the first time in 52 years, the hallways of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart will not be bustling with exhibitors, design professionals, students or curious onlookers. There will be no showrooms, no boat tours, no parties. No, this year is different. Like many other shows planned for 2020, the annual NeoCon exhibition, the nation’s largest commercial design show set for June 8 to 10, has been canceled-relegated to a slice of the cyberworld, like so much else in COVID-19 times. New products will still be released into the commercial market this year, but what’s lost is the ability of show-goers to touch and feel and experience them.
It’s just the latest in a string of challenges for flooring manufacturers-and other suppliers to the commercial built environment-brought on by the virus-induced economic slowdown. Many are trying to figure out when they will be able to get back into the swing of things, and when, if at all, the best time will be to release new product lines.
Ginger Gilbert, Bentley Mills’ vice president of creative, says her company has been working on a new education sector-centered flooring that was slated for release this year. “We were really excited and looking forward to when things open back up [after the COVID-19 shutdown],” but with uncertainty around whether schools will even reopen at all this year, Bentley is now reassessing what it launches and when. “We want to launch the right product at the right time,” Gilbert says. She also worries that some collections may not even be relevant when things go back to “normal,” based on changes in behavior around social distancing and how people work and play.
In the absence of NeoCon, Gilbert says Bentley will be altering how it introduces products this year. Instead of one bulk release, the firm will do it in stages throughout the rest of the year. “In the end, when it’s all launched, there will be a complete collection,” she says.
For others like the Mohawk Group, it will be, for the most part, business as usual. Mark Page, senior director of creative design and development, said his company is set to release new products as planned this summer, but hurdles remain in an uncertain marketplace. “The challenge I think for all of us is getting a product to market. But what do you do with it when you get it to market? And what market?” Page says. If you aren’t careful, “you end up launching a product into a void.”
As companies work to reassess, one theme that remains consistent is that most feel like COVID-19 is going to change conversations around what flooring means in each sector of the commercial market, but the question is how.
“As for senior living, who knows how that’s going to morph.” Gilbert says. “[The facilities] are going to have to make some really large changes with the spaces and the functions that happen in the different levels of care for senior living. And I think a lot of that is going to be the flooring.”
The message of health and wellness has been growing within the design arena in recent years, and the expectation is one that this recent health crisis will further push flooring manufacturers and end users alike to base more decisions around keeping people safe and healthy. It’s already begun to show within lines being offered this year by several firms. New and existing collections that can be customized using contrasting colors or patterns to promote social distancing, wayfinding and other needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic are among those being promoted. Some design experts say social distancing-time away from shows and the office-could perhaps be an opportunity for companies to reset, re-energize and unleash new creative ideas for next year, something they say can get lost in the never-ending cycle of development.
So, what would you have seen this year in Chicago? What stories would exhibitors have been telling? We reached out to some of those that planned to display inside the Mart this year, as well as those with unaffiliated showrooms nearby, to tell their stories and highlight new products, technologies and mindsets.
WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR?
Once again, bold color and patterns are overarching themes for Shaw Contract this year, which was expected to highlight two new products at NeoCon-Creating Space and Dialogue.
The Creating Space carpet tile collection features long lines and striations and was inspired by the concept of mindfulness and the need to find moments of quiet focus, as well as being fully present and aware. There are four patterns-Aware, Conscious, Intention and Present-which come in varying color palettes. Aware, Conscious and Intention come in eight colors: Twine, Lacquer, Ink, Graphite, Bristle, Ash, Canvas and Glaze; Present comes in those eight and an additional four: Gouache, Brush, Acrylic and Clay. The 18”x36” solution-dyed nylon tiles can be installed in eight patterns, including herringbone and half basketweave. The line, which has a multilevel pattern loop construction, is backed with Ecoworx but is also available with Ecologix.
The other collection, Dialogue, is a beautifully crafted hospitality line centered around the power of communication. As hotels expand their public spaces to be hubs for travelers, Shaw sought to acknowledge the importance of building environments that create comfort and warmth while also providing a sense of luxury. The inspiration for its patterns came from exploring various forms of dialogue, both spoken and unspoken, like freehand writing, typography, sheet music and Morse code. Dialogue is available in three constructions-custom tailored tuft, canvas and multilevel cut loop broadloom-with 42 patterns and multiple colorways. Shaw has been manufacturing products using tufting technology created by Card-Monroe Corp. that allows for more control over pile height and generating plush and sculpted surfaces, and it is using it in the tailored tuft option in Dialogue. Canvas uses a color printing technology that creates photoreal designs or subtle watercolor effects, as well as images with high detail and contrast. Dialogue is a fully custom line available in multiple colorways.
It’s been a year since HMTX Industries was formally established to bring its existing family of companies-Halstead, Metroflor, Teknoflor, Aspecta and Vertex-together under one roof. This year, its three commercial brands are unveiling new products in each line.
Later this summer, Aspecta, HMTX’s high-end global contract brand for architects and designers, will release Contours, a conceptual, boutique-style collection of large-scale patterned floors built on the foundation of the its Isocore Technology. The new multilayer WPC features four distinct designs, each sharing a common palette of eight colors, that will enable architects and designers to apply traditional parquet motifs in an oversized scale, suitable for both commercial and residential settings. Patterns include the Chantilly whalebone design, a bold, oversized interpretation of herringbone; Chambord, a single-plank, large-scale chevron design; Tarascon, a modern take on basketweave; and Versailles, a design of smaller-scale, pre-assembled chevron planks. With an 8mm gauge and a 22 mil wearlayer, Contours is finished with Aspecta’s Duraspect Extreme Surface Protectant for abrasion resistance and stain repellency. A pre-attached, high-density polyethylene underlayment provides sound mitigation and enhanced comfort underfoot.
Metroflor won the Best of NeoCon Award for Product Innovation in 2019 for its Metroforms with Attraxion Magnetic Attachment Technology, an easy-to-install flooring using Metroflor’s Déjà New LVT, and now it is releasing a new design tool aimed at helping users customize Metroforms flooring. Sketchbox allows retailers, architects, designers and end users to select from a palette of ten shapes and patterns-including starbursts, chevrons and basketweaves-as well as 38 colors, making it easy to design a unique patterned luxury vinyl tile floor. It also calculates the amount of material needed for a space and provides a virtual room photo and specifications.
Teknoflor, the healthcare and institutional brand of HMTX, is introducing Icon Tile HPD, an LVT collection. The line features 22 SKUs in three visuals. Feathered Concrete offers an industrial strong but soft aesthetic; San Tropez offers a carpet-look plank. Both come in a 12”x24” format. The third visual, Denim, comes in a 7.08”x 47.24” plank construction and offers a true “denim” visual with unique lines and hues. The collection is constructed and designed to coordinate with wood looks, and its 2.5mm thickness will sit next to its resilient sheet products without the need for a transition strip.
Bentley Mills’ NeoCon theme for this year was to be “Invisible Visionary,” and the team had assembled a suite of products that work in tandem in a complete project or stand alone. It includes a variety of price points, performance attributes and aesthetics. But in light of NeoCon’s absence, Bentley now plans to release the collection in several stages, what they are calling “acts” in reference to the theater. Ginger Gilbert says the team had initially sought inspiration from the set designers and costume designers of Hollywood when developing the package. After conducting research, they finally homed in on ballet dancers and the process by which designers create performance-driven costumes that are both aesthetically pleasing but also meet the demands of each dancer.
As part of “Act I,” Bentley is unveiling Suitable carpet tiles and broadloom, what it’s calling its “little black dress.” Gilbert says this collection, which can be dressed up or down, provides a timeless and elegant product that is affordable. Its deeply textured pattern is reminiscent of tweeded plaid-classic yet contemporary-and is available in 14 colorways that thread rich neutrals with modern pops of color. Suitable has been added to Bentley’s existing Fast Track line, its quick ship program aimed at expedited delivery, and comes in 18”x36” and 24”x24” tiles and 12’ broadloom.
A second line that will be released is a terrazzo-look LVT called Sidewalk Talk, and more details are forthcoming around that line.
This year, Crossville is putting its focus on color and wall tile, launching Cursive earlier in the year and Swatches in late June. Both tap into current Pantone color trends-Cursive mimics Eclectic Folk with its earth tones and natural hues, and Swatches follows the lead of Vibrant Rebellion with its bold primary colors.
There are three color palettes in the Swatches line, ranging from natural and muted to bold and electrifying: Necessary Objects, Neutral Territory and Brilliant Deduction. Necessary Objects is available in five formats ranging from 2”x8” to 6”x6” in both gloss and satin finishes. Colors include Cotton, Eggshell, Stone and Coal. The colors begin to amplify in the Neutral Territory palette, which comes in 4”x8” and 3”x12” sizes in both gloss and satin. Colors include Shadow, Warm Silver, Seashell, Old Lace, Smokestack and Sea Ice. For those looking for a little more punch, Brilliant Deduction offers colors in Cobalt, Mulberry, Lipstick Red, Pineapple, Petrol and Spruce, which are only available in a 3”x12” gloss format. This collection was originally planned for release at NeoCon this month.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Crossville had adopted Escapes as the theme of the year, inspired by the murals of French artist Henri Matisse, who was known for his use of bright colors. Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, says she hopes that the bright colors and energy of Swatches will give people some relief and allow them to relax and take a mini-vacation in their minds.
In addition to Cursive and Swatches, Crossville has also released three other new products: Jazz Age, a porcelain wood-look tile collection inspired by the worn hardwood floors of jazz clubs and featuring four colors; Story Teller, another wood-look line inspired by the 16th century French technique of cerusing, a contrasting technique developed to highlight graining; and Java Joint, which features five richly striated visuals. All three were expected to be highlighted at the Mart.
The AtlasMasland brand was launched this year as a refresh of Atlas Masland Contract, the two commercial brands under The Dixie Group. The sales teams from both labels were combined in 2018, and in 2019, they shared a space at NeoCon. Historically, the brands have uniquely different aesthetics, but as a unified organization, they can leverage their technology to create a mixed portfolio of carpet tile, broadloom, area rugs and luxury vinyl flooring. The new brand strategy aims to reflect the company’s legacy with a unified voice, according to Kennedy Frierson, president of AtlasMasland. The rebrand was led by design firm Marquardt+. As part of the rebrand, a new logo was created using the blue and green from each brand’s previous logo.
With a new rebrand in place, Elena Cordoba, executive design director, product development and marketing, says AtlasMasland will release a new LVT product, Magnetude: Contemporary Woods and Silhouettes, this year. The collection, described as contemporary and fresh, offers three patterns in 14 colors.
Also planned for release is the Living series, a program of dual portfolios called Achievements and Blossoming, which includes 16 patterns in 13 colors, offered in both modular tile and broadloom. This line began with the concept of creatively combining key elements of senior living, hospitality and multifamily into one complete offering. And from this concept, these products were born, Cordoba says.
Other 2020 launches planned include Revealed and Hangout. Revealed is based on the concept of excavation and features three carpet tile patterns-Uncover, Unmask and Unveil-in plank formats. Its color palette includes 12 neutral bases with a pop of green and blue. Hangout, featuring Settle In and Stay Awhile, was created for everyday spaces and is offered in both modular plank and broadloom in a palette of six neutrals.
EF Contract and J+J Flooring, the two commercial divisions of Engineered Floors, are both introducing new products this year.
EF Contract has released two new patterns: Game On and Contact Sport. Both are playful 24”x24” solution-dyed carpet tiles made with Encore SD Ultima nylon 6 and backed with Nexus Modular. The patterns have been paired to complement one another in scale and contrast and are available in six colorways: Teed Up, featuring bands of greys, green and orange; Front-Runner in grey and shades of blues; G.O.A.T. in grey, black and red; Square Off in grey, blue and yellow; Slam Dunk in grey, blue and red; and Bare-Knuckle in grey, blue, yellow and purple.
On the J+J Flooring side, the latest collection is Convergent, a fusion of organic striations of dark and light, met with varying texture. The collection comes in ten colors-Coincide, Medley, Synthesize, Consolidate, Meld, Combine, Incorporate, Compose, Blend and Unify-and comes in broadloom and 12”x48” carpet tile and is backed with Nexus Modular. It’s a textured-loop product using nylon 6,6.
Gerflor doesn’t display within the Mart, and instead, it has opted for annual boat rides around Chicago. But the tour has been moored this year, and Jeff Krejsa, vice president of marketing and strategy, said this year’s focus on safety, health and wellness was stymied. As a leading provider of flooring for sports venues, including the Olympics, the NBA and universities, Gerflor was poised to promote its athletic offerings, including the introduction of a dance floor program. But with sporting events canceled, its message was lost, and the dance floor rollout delayed.
In light of those developments, Gerflor is announcing updates to its LVT programs. The Creation Clic LVT line has been around for a while, but new this year is a matte finish called Pur+ Matte, which the company says offers a nonglare surface aimed at creating a more natural and realistic wood finish with no waxing necessary, as well as an updated color palette and new designs. Its broader tear-resistant print film creates fewer repeated plank patterns, allowing for more uniquely grained planks and no repeated design per carton. Creation Clic also boasts ease of installation with its patented vertically interlocking construction, as well as better acoustics. Krejsa said this system is especially useful for areas with rolling traffic, like grocery stores. It comes in 5mm and 6mm thicknesses in updated wood visuals formatted in wider, longer planks.
Earlier this year, Interface was named one of the world’s most innovative companies for 2020 by Fast Company. And in light of the COVID-19 mandates across the country, the firm has been evolving many of its traditional customer support options to virtual offerings to ensure customers continue to receive the help they need as they adapt their typical work processes and maintain social distancing. As part of this effort, the company launched a virtual project team to provide end users, architects, designers and contractors with experts, digital services and online tools and is offering both immediate and long-term solutions to flooring needs. The team will offer Designing for Distance consultations to provide advice on how to use modular flooring to support social distancing needs, including how to use colors, styles and patterns, as well as different flooring types, to create visible boundaries and direct traffic flow within a customer’s space.
One of the products being used to do this is its Human Connections collection, which is not new, but lends itself to this sort of design mentality. The line of 50”x50” carpet tiles combines earthy tones with bright colors in a variety of textures that can be customized to create pathways or zones. There are eight styles in the collection-Sett in Stone, Kerbstone, Paver, Flagstone, Moss and Moss in Stone, as well as Rue and Stone Course by Flor, Interface’s residential brand that in recent years has been heavily specified on the commercial side.
In addition to the virtual project team, Interface is launching its Together by Design digital collection in conjunction with NeoConnect 2020. The special landing page will provide educational content, webinars, virtual events and designer profiles aimed at keeping design conversations active amid the economic slowdown and shelter-in-place mandates. Interface will also use the platform to highlight its most recent flooring collections.
The Mohawk Group planned to use NeoCon to roll out a full range of products-hard and soft-and would have promoted LVT and hard surface products made in its North Georgia plant, according to Mark Page. Despite the hurdle, Mohawk plans to move forward with the release, which includes more budget-friendly options and higher-end looks, and it will do so around the same timeframe as NeoCon was planned to take place.
Page says Mohawk has done more work this year to solidify the connectivity between the products, making sure they share a similar story and that they complement one another in similar styles and color palettes. One focus has been on the seamless transition from hard to soft and being able install different flooring styles together without cuts and transition between colors and styles. That ability makes it easier to create defined pathways and divisions throughout a space. Page says this technique was already in demand pre-COVID-19, which has resulted in discussions about using flooring to support social distancing. Among Mohawk’s new offerings-and part of this multi-flooring concept-will be Weatherworn Hues and Optic Hues, which will be folded into the existing Large & Local LVT line. Both come in 6”x48” planks. The carpet component is Optic Reset, which comes in three styles and shares the same color palette as Optic Hues. The contrasting color options lend themselves to define spaces and pathways and can be arranged to transition from light to dark as well as through colors. The lines are slated for release in July.
Another offering planned for NeoCon release was Smart City, a 12”x36” Living Product carpet plank system. The line aims to reinterpret transit maps of major cities and urban areas into soft surfaces for commercial interiors. There are two available patterns: Urban Model, an organic base pattern available in three colors that reflects the texture and rhythm of a metropolitan mapscape; and Urban Mobility, coordinating pattern styles with linework and accent colors in six colorways inspired by the subway systems of Berlin, Istanbul, London, New York, Paris and Shanghai.
On the technology side, Mohawk planned to introduce Personal Studio, a web tool developed with the help of a gaming and tech company to help in the design, visualization and ordering of flooring products. Personal Studio is up and running and is currently being used by some of Mohawk’s clients.
Mohawk’s hospitality division, Durkan, has released several new collections this year, one of them being Inherent Spontaneity. This carpet tile line was created by designers through a series of exercises aimed at exploring the imagination. Themes include politics, travel and handicrafts. Carpet tiles come in 12”x36” and 24”x24” solution-dyed formats and patterns are created using a technology that layers patterns and textures to create a 3D image.
Novalis’ commercial brand, Ava, had planned to return to NeoCon after its debut last year to show four new products. Despite the show’s cancellation, the company will still roll out its new offerings in June. Novalis will use social media and a virtual display that will be shown on NeoCon’s website.
Two of the new collections are 2DSGN and MRGE. Designed to look like hardwoods and built to endure heavy traffic, 2DSGN glue-down planks offer soft wood grains and contemporary styles with a balanced palette of 22 colors and variations for in-register embossed finish, microbevel edge and straight-edge planks. MRGE features four distressed concrete colorways and four modern concrete colorways in plank and tile sizes, respectively. Both come with Novalis’ AMP Advantage Finish.
This year is the company’s fourth year in the commercial flooring market. Last year, Novalis introduced three new lines-2STYL, RSRV, VRSE-and now has 13 collections that contain nine constructions and 16 formats. Visuals include various wood looks from smooth fine lines to rustic wood patterns that include some in-register embossed graining. There are also organic blends, distressed concrete and multidirectional patterns with lots of colors, including some bold and contemporary colors along with soft neutrals.
Tarkett made waves at NeoCon 2019 with the unveiling of its Tatami System, which allows designers to customize and reconfigure a space based on changes in user needs, earning it a Best of NeoCon Gold in the broadloom category. But the focus in 2020 has been its message around sustainability and supporting health and wellness. The theme this year was going to be Design for Humankind, with the idea being to design the kind of space you want to be in, one that inspires, offers solutions to problems, uplifts and connects, and one that is suitable for both individuals and groups and provides wellness and memorable experiences. Tarkett has been looking to products-existing and new-to highlight that theme and tell its story.
Among them is iD Latitude, which was released in 2019 and is a carbon neutral LVT that has been certified as asthma- and allergy-friendly. The collection also boasts lasting performance and durability, featuring Tarkett’s Techtonic polyurethane coating for LVT. It comes in a variety of colors, designs and formats.
New for Tarkett is the Light Shift Collection from Suzanne Tick, a modular tile line. Drawing inspiration from scientific studies of light waves and frequencies, as well as manmade phenomena like light trails and reflections from architectural facades, the collection interprets the ways light changes throughout the day and how it shapes people’s experiences within a space. It’s available in four styles-Specular, Light Shift, Parallel Ray and Glint.
The third main area of focus for Tarkett has been on its Lino wall and floor linoleum that is Cradle to Cradle Certified Silver. Made entirely of natural raw materials, Tarkett’s LinoFloor is created with the same sustainable recipe that the company has used for more than 120 years.
Patcraft has released four new collections, ranging from carpet tile to resilient, a year after winning Best of NeoCon Gold awards for products in each of those categories.
In creating this year’s lineup, the company sought input from industry professionals in varying market segments to get a feel for the demands and product solutions. For the visuals, the design team sought inspiration from nature and current trends within the built environment to incorporate texture, pattern and color. Traditional visuals were updated with a modern approach for each collection.
One of the new resilient products, Anew, features modern, updated wood visuals and the incorporation of a stone look for unique installation options. It comes in a 73/4”x48” format, inspired by designers’ requests for widened planks, and is available in 2.5mm and 5mm thicknesses. Anew, which is fully produced in the U.S., comes in 15 different colors.
Inspired by the distressed visuals of overdyed vintage rugs, Crafted Surface is a three-style collection of 18”x36” carpet tiles. The textural patterns incorporate a variety of colors with neutral and bright accents that can aid in branding, wayfinding and color blocking within a space.
Gemscape is a coordinating collection of modular carpet tile and broadloom inspired by the beauty of gems and minerals. The carpet tile is backed by StrataWorx, which is a PVC-free
product that is lightweight and cost-effective-a price-competitive alternative for applications that have traditionally been broadloom. Patterns feature texture and abstract geometrics with vibrant accent stripes for further customization of space.
Designed to expand SPC platform offerings, Natural State is a high-performance resilient collection with a high-density core construction with dimensional stability, no telegraphing and resistance against indentation. Offered in a variety of thicknesses and installations, Natural State also features acoustical benefits, making it suitable for a variety of commercial environments.
Copyright 2020 Floor Focus
Related Topics:Engineered Floors, LLC, Lumber Liquidators, Mohawk Industries, Metroflor Luxury Vinyl Tile, Tarkett, HMTX, Novalis Innovative Flooring, The Dixie Group, Interface, Shaw Industries Group, Inc., Masland Carpets & Rugs, Crossville