#56 - eco-friendly

The Beautiful & Good: The Rising Demand For Eco-luxe Flooring

SYLKA™ Luxury apartment in Essex

As more and more first time buyers are taking the environment into account in their design choices, the emotional effect and social consciousness of a supplier is more important than ever. Environmental friendliness isn’t just moving the core eco market though; with mainstream buyers increasingly concerned and willing to make small swaps to contribute to big change. With this in mind, low environmental impact is becoming another aspect of luxury; comfort must come with peace of mind.

Previously perhaps oxymoronic, eco-luxe is the new trend rising in the flooring industry. Investing in environmentally mindful, quality products doesn’t just mean bamboo anymore; with luxury vinyl, engineered wood flooring, carpet and solid hardwood leaping to the fore in invigorating ways. Here we look through stand-out designers and products meeting these needs.

Sylka Providing New Options for Silk Carpets

Silk is used in huge amounts to make silk carpets, which of course means a higher demand for silkworms. With each pound of silk requiring 3,000 silkworm pupae to be stifled, the environmental impact of this switch is pretty evident. Sylka carpets have the look and feel of silk, but are made entirely from NuSilk, a luxury fiber ‘engineered to replicate the delicate aesthetic qualities of natural silk.’ The microfibre is processed through a specially designed spinneret engineered to mimic the size, shape and quality of natural silk. The engineered material offers more than a soft touch, the polymer from which NuSilk is derived includes Type 6,6 Nylon 101, the most common commercial grade of nylon, making it extremely durable and hardwearing.

Developed for use in commercial settings and luxury yachts, luxury carpets fitters The Prestige Carpet Co have been championing the introduction of this material beyond the commercial sector in the UK and into luxury home refurbishments. The crossover between sustainable luxury yacht design and interior work is being pioneered by Swiss-based Nature Squared, who have created a range of sustainable, high-end materials for table tops, walls and furniture all created from ethically sourced animal and plant byproducts.

The Prestige Carpet Co

Courtesy of The Prestige Carpet Co

Consistent Compassion from Kahrs

Kahrs engineered wood has been well ahead of the curve on this for a while. From inventing the modern engineered wood flooring in 1941 to pioneering glueless joints—not to mention they’ve had a solvent-free production process since 1984. Far from a niche product, Kahrs are widely distributed and carry a huge range of materials to appeal to the luxury sector. Case in point, their new ‘ultra-matte’ lacquered range is wholly shaped by luxury flooring trends; offering the protection of lacquered boards without any of the sheen. This Swedish brand particularly excels in reinventing scandi-chic offering boards with intriguing shape and color combinations, such as the new ‘Ash Flow.’ Kahrs are a perfect example of environmentally mindful choices moving and motivating the luxury market.

Kahrs new Ash Flow

Kahrs new Ash Flow. Courtesy of the brand.

Tarkett Vinyl Flooring’s Revitalising Design

Tarkett holds impressive environmental accreditation; they’re the first European flooring producer to achieve Cradle to Cradle certified products and they can now fully recycle their vinyl products to create new vinyl, with the same quality as that made from virgin materials.

This heavy investment in recycling and renewability has by no means pushed aside their ability to reinvent. Teaming with Swedish design studio Note, their 2019 play book for the iQ Surface collection is overflowing with fun experiments in shape, scale and color. The iQ Surface collection is designed to be mixed, matched and highlighted and comes with a complimentary range of vinyl welding rods designed to attract focus among the pattern and color families. Mixing different patterns offers great design flexibility with much lower costs—it’s no surprise more people are expressing their creativity in this way. This concept has been showing up across multiple ‘flooring trends’ predicted for this year, and as maximalism begins to rule the roost, bold choices aren’t the ‘risk’ they once were.

The iQ Surface collection by Tarkett

The iQ Surface collection by Tarkett

Restoration, the Fourth ‘R’

More and more British homes are choosing to have their herringbone and parquet floors restored, adding a touch of historic interest to modern, contemporary or traditional homes. Many British homes have the original parquet or herringbone floor laid beneath their current flooring, making this a low impact choice for both the planet and the purse. The patterns and textures of an original parquet floor can pair beautifully against a geometric paper and textiles, allowing homeowners to create unique and personalized options, without having to pay for bespoke flooring materials. In many ways, the rising popularity of these traditional styles sums up the ethos of 2019 flooring trends; good quality materials laid in an interesting twist on a classic pattern.

Kahrs engineered wood

Kahrs engineered wood

Across the market, homeowners are looking ahead, choosing premium products with longer lifetimes. Across the market high quality, longer lasting products with a premium finish are being favored over quick and easy fixes. First time buyers are older than ever before too; in the UK 21% of first time buyers were aged between 35 and 44 years in 2015-16, (up from 16% in 2005-06) and in the past 10 years the proportion of first time buyer households with dependent children increased from 23% to 37%. People are buying homes to live in. Throwaway flooring is on its way out and dependable design classics (updated with little details) are in. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the wastage of cheap, high turnover flooring is being cut out in favor of quality products.

Luxury flooring options with greater longevity are just one way folks are switching. Already in 2019, we can really see how far flooring technology has come, with old materials reinvented and redeployed to meet the demands of an increasingly eco-friendly market.

About the Author

Caitlin Rimmer is a writer based in Manchester, with an interest in the crossover between fashion and interior design.

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