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Greater choice of office flooring reflects sophisticated demands of occupiers

Posted on December 3, 2014 by Charles Marks

Buildings are judged in terms of their floorspace in more ways than you might think. When it comes to specifying office flooring, it’s not just a question of square metres, but also of identity, space definition, colour, finish and the environment. Like many aspects of the built environment, flooring manufacturers continue to innovate in terms of technology, materials and design so it pays for to understand the impact that flooring can have on your business. It used to be the case not so long ago that long term performance, durability and maintenance were far and away the most important buying criteria. Now, although the value of those characteristics is undiminished, buying decisions are increasingly made on a wider range of criteria, or at least with different emphasis.

There is a far greater emphasis on choice, especially in terms of colour and design. The demand for products that offer a range of aesthetics and finishes across a number of price points has been mirrored by innovations in design, materials and processes from manufacturers.

It is certainly the case that we, as specifiers and suppliers of flooring products, have seen several buying trends increase and diminish in importance and it is essential that we understand how and why this takes place. The most obvious illustration of this is the way in which environmental concerns have recently moved around the agenda for many buyers. But this can never be a hard and fast rule and for some buyers this is still of paramount importance.

Part of the new Human Nature collection from Interface

Part of the new Human Nature collection from Interface

Similarly wayfinding, which once was a voguish if not deal-breaking concern for buyers and designers has become an important concern. Yet it may not be entirely surprising to see it make a return as an issue as a result of the Disability Discrimination Act. In the past, many people have assumed the DDA is largely about wheelchair access, whereas it covers a wide range of disabilities, including visual impairment, and how the people with those disabilities gain access to services and buildings. Flooring can play an important role in providing visual wayfinding clues and there has been a resurgence of interest in it as people have discovered more about their obligations under the DDA.

The use of flooring and other finishes to convey corporate identity and brand values is something that encapsulates the increasing sophistication of the market. Branding used to be manifest in some pretty obvious ways, with logos woven into carpets or the ubiquitous use of a small palette of corporate colours and with due reference to other objectives.

Comfortably the most popular type of flooring specified in office environments is carpet. Recent technological developments mean that carpet is also available in a wider range of finishes than ever before. Carpet companies have done much to overcome the environmental issues that have traditionally been associated with textile floor coverings and many now offer recycling schemes and recycled products.

There is no sign yet that this pace of change is about to slow. And nor should it. The increasingly sophisticated market offers benefits to everybody, not least customers who are able to enjoy better, more interesting, smarter, more colourful and more visually appealing environments.