Surfaces Expo continues to exhibit a broad view of flooring trends, flooring technology advancements and refreshing flooring ideas.  This year the industry rallied, with traffic up approximately 15% over last year.  Perhaps we are beginning to see, ever so slightly, the very edge of the bright side.  With these subtle signs of optimism, Surfaces exceeded the expectations of many exhibitors.

Hard surface was the more dominant product category this year, with bamboo coming in all shapes and forms.  From NW Bamboo Trim, a wonderfully elegant use of bamboo mosaics was presented, perfect for the hospitality market.  Using grout similar to installing tile, this format for bamboo can be used for walls and floors.  Coconut palm wood, another product gaining popularity, from Green Choice Flooring and Frisch was shown in a variety of different textures and finishes making this an excellent design and eco solution for residential and commercial interiors.

Cork reached new levels of elegance.  APC Cork presented ‘The Plank’ format using new cork finishes in a beautiful range of colors and polished surfaces, some of which resembled stone.  Also featured, their Kid’s Collection using subtle primary colors perfect for schools, libraries, playgrounds and the home play area.

Ceramic and stone products continue a strong, solid presence, many of which were presented in natural, down-to-earth colors.  Gone are the less flashy metallic-trend finishes as we’ve seen in recent years. Crossville made a strong statement with their “Made in the USA” theme, which was well thought out and beautifully executed.  Stone Peak focused on their glazed and unglazed collections that combine elegant colors with subtle natural beauty.

Radiant floor technology has made big strides.  New options include sheets, webbing and wires – all of which are excellent radiant flooring alternatives to hot water tubing.  These provide more flexible installations and use less energy without water.

Eco everything. Environmentally friendly products continue to make a statement across many product categories.  New materials and more efficient flooring technology continue to pave the way and build awareness around environmentally friendly products for our industry and – even more importantly – for the consumer.

The Wool Project, an exciting concept launched by the Prince of Wales the week prior to Surfaces, made a strong statement for the wool industry.  The Wool Project is a campaign for real wool, promoting the natural, sustainable and globally available resource.  With the explosion of eco-friendly products, it’s important as ever to educate the consumer on the qualities of sustainable products.

Finally, carpet. Carpet continues to present a wide variety of options and styles for the market including new textures, interesting twists and natural fibers.  Beautifully crafted woven looks in tufted construction, new expanded wool collections and natural soft colors and textures move the trend to simple and elegant.  Wools of New Zealand made a big splash across many companies.  Natural fiber collections, such as those from The Natural Carpet Company, included a variety of sisal collections using interesting basket weave combinations in bold and subtle colors.  J. Mish presented a unique woven look in a tufted construction while Shaw featured stylish woven looks in their Visions Line.

Its last year at the Sands Expo, Surfaces was buzzing and vendors’ spirits were uplifted – a great way to end an era at Sands as Surfaces 2011 moves to Mandalay Bay.

Reported by
Catherine Minervini