Designer Forum - April 2008

By Nancy Thiel

>From my past life as a dancer and choreographer to my role in the design world today, I am always looking for those elements that move me both physically and emotionally. At Rockwell Group, we are constantly looking for ideas that inspire us. Just as our clients have great expectations for us to surprise them with our design ideas, we expect the same from ourselves. The materials and finishes we select are integral to the success of our designs. We are constantly on the lookout for the perfect products to convey our design ideas. Depending upon the project, sometimes we rethink the use of an existing material; other times we seek out new groundbreaking products. 

For this article, I have decided to focus on flooring products that inspire me and the incredible team of interior designers I have the privilege of working with as we take on the challenges of our current hospitality projects. As one of the largest surfaces of a space, the floor is an important design opportunity and the key element in establishing the right mood and feel. Today, the choices are plentiful and wide-ranging.

For instance, there are products that call into question our perception—products made of one material while masquerading as another. Porcelanosa’s Jatoba, a wood-grained porcelain tile, is a great example of this. The tiles have all the warmth and look of wood but can be used successfully in places where wood might not be the best choice, for instance, a restaurant or a high traffic area. So too, Gerbert Limited offers remarkable wood-grained athletic flooring called RexCourt which is actually a composition of vinyl and fiberglass with a polyurethane coating. Traditional athletic flooring pales in comparison to this warm and sophisticated option for flooring in a health club. Gerbert also has a great product called DeLuxe Vinyle Planks. I really like its Washed Timber. It has a nice soft, modern feel. Robin Reigi’s faux leather rubber flooring is another great example of reinterpreting and rethinking the materiality of a finish.

At the other end of the spectrum are products that are perfect for blurring surfaces from floor to wall to ceiling, and even for transitioning from inside to outside. Polyurethanes and resins can create seamless, modern spaces and forms that look to the future. Once primarily used in industrial settings for their low maintenance and durability, they have now become great design products with their seamless, flexible and clean application.

Of course, there are products we treasure not only because of their sustainable qualities but also for their great design. Interface and Bentley Prince Street are two of my personal favorites in carpeting. As leaders in sustainability, they have helped shape an entire industry. Bentley’s Kings Road comes in a huge range of great colors and who doesn’t love a carpet tile? I particularly like Interface’s solids and textures. Terramai’s reclaimed wood is another great flooring product. I especially love Terramai’s Fishtail Oak. It feels fresh—both old and new at the same time. Mondo Rubber Flooring is another company with their eye on sustainability. No doubt, when there is a chance to go green, these are all excellent choices. 

Tried and true products that we continue to rethink and reuse from project to project cannot be neglected. Marmoleum is always a great choice. You’re only limited by your imagination. On the other hand, there are some really exciting products using technologies that give a sense of life to otherwise static surfaces. Sensitile’s Terrazzo Lumina is one we especially like. The way it fractures a light source is remarkable. Groundplans’ Liquid Gel Tiles are equally intriguing. I love the way they trace your movement. For a former dancer, that’s what life is all about. 





Copyright 2008 Floor Focus 

Related Topics:Interface