Monday, January 24, 2011

New Floor Covering Seen at Domotex Raises Expectations on Eve of Surfaces

The Surfaces floor show opens tomorrow and excitement about what new things await the industry is building. It's the season for shows and unveiling of new products but before I get all excited about what I will see tomorrow I need to post more about what I saw at Domotex Hannover last week and let me start with "WOW."  I was so impressed by the innovation and creativity this year.

I have always considered the Domotex Hannover flooring show to be a treasure hunt and this year was no exception. There were innovations at every turn in every category. The European economy was hurt by the same economic crisis as we have suffered through for the last four years but not nearly at the same magnitude. In fact, I spoke to several distributors and manufacturers that had record years in 2010 -  up as much as 15 percent. This was not the case for everyone but it felt good to talk to people that are experiencing growth and success.

I’ll be the first to admit that not all of the products will meet with wide sales appeal but just the fact that companies are coming up with new, creative ideas makes our industry exciting and energized. And from these ideas will flow new ones. For example, a Turkish company showed 3D rugs with special 3D glasses and all. I don’t think a lot of people are going to buy these rugs and pass out 3D glasses to their guest so that they can appreciate their new rug, but it shows a willingness to try, to experiment and use technology in innovative ways. The next time they might just come up with a blockbuster.

Pedross recovers oak from flooring manufacturers to create moldings that are finished off with either laminate, a real wood veneer, or direct digital printing - whatever the customer wants. The result is a guaranteed matching molding at a savings of 30 to 35% over solid oak. I snapped this picture that illustrates their digital photography...looks like a real mouse hole in that wall....the cat is convinced.

A couple of European manufacturers offered 100% bamboo or 60/40 bamboo polyester carpets. I have seen towels and sheets made out of bamboo so why not carpet? It was beautiful and except for its soft hand it looked no different than any other carpet. My only question would be resiliency since bamboo fibers have no natural crimp for spring-like recovery.

Tarkett showed a composite vinyl with a real wood laminated top. I already reported about the very unique Bolefloor wood floor where the planks are the irregular shape of the vertical tree pieced together with no waste. You’ll have to see that one to understand it and there is a picture of it on my last post.

I saw several new ideas in LVT ranging from a magnetic system to hold the planks in place to the easiest click system I have ever seen from the English company Super Click.This product, which first debut in Shanghai at the Asian Domotex show in 2010, uses an extremely easy push-to-fit installation method. The magnetic system by TFD Floor Tile uses a magnetic film to install the floor.  The LVT is 3mm thick and has iron shavings in it so when it is placed on top of the magnetized film, it holds the LVT to the floor.  It can be removed and replaced and is a remarkable idea for remodeling.  Manufacturing is inexpensive since it is square edge. There's  no profiling and no waste.

I could go on but the bottom line is Domotex presented another exciting show this year. If you were there, I am sure you will agree; if you missed it, I hope you don't miss Surfaces or Domotex asia/CHINAFLOOR. It's not just about the product. Plenty of partnerships and new ventures are formed at these shows.

Friends ask if it is tiring going to so many exhibitions in a short time and all I can say is they have no idea how exciting it really is. Our industry is constantly changing and innovating.  If your input on trends and technology takes place when a product makes a splash in the market place you are dealing with yesterday's news.

Tomorrow we'll see what Surfaces has to offer...I hope to see many of you there.


Jim Gould is President of the Floor Covering Institute

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