Back in 2001, upon commencing as an accountant at a mid-tier technology company known as Pracom, I noticed that our office carpet was bright green.
Upon enquiry, I discovered that this was chosen both to match our green logo and to promote inspiration and enthusiasm. Green symbolised ‘go’ and being on the move.
Sadly, Pracom floundered and was sold in 2005 at a fraction of what was once its value.
Nevertheless, the episode highlights the importance of floor coverings in creating a mood within commercial buildings.
That raises questions about considerations in choosing floor coverings and how these work with other interior elements to create a sense of vibrancy in offices. For answers, Sourceable spoke with Aaron Martin, Chief Executive Officer of the Floor Coverings Institute of Australia.
According to Martin, commercial flooring has undergone considerable technological advancement over the past ten years. Carpet manufacturers, for example, have developed yarns which capture fine dust particles to maximise the indoor air quality of the environment in which they are laid. Manufactures are also developing ranges to accommodate trends from around the world and to provide architects with choice to match the requirements of their brief.
He says respective advantages and disadvantages of each covering type mean that the material chosen should reflect the context for which it is selected. Carpet, for example, is popular in and around areas where people will be seated because of its warmth and acoustic qualities. Courtesy of its durability, meanwhile, timber is used in high traffic areas such as entries, reception areas and hallways. Vinyl floor coverings such as luxury vinyl tiles can also be used in these areas. For areas such as hospitals which require ease of movement and ease of cleaning, resilient sheet products and commercial sheet products are common.
Asked about strategies to create a vibrant setting, Martin says these vary according to the environment and there are a range of coverings to suit different environments.
He says one way flooring can be used is to create different ‘zones’. Some firms, he said, have a neutral floor colour in the general office area whilst other areas are ‘zoned’ with arrangements to reflect the function and desired mood for that area.
Numerous colours have also emerged and we are seeing more yellow, red and light blue. Alternatively, neutral or warmer colours can be used to blend in with other elements such as paint or furniture.
As well, effects can be created through different textures. In carpet, we are seeing an emergence of solution dyed nylons which are hard wearing and have durable yarn structures. These provide a lush texture similar to that in people’s loungeroom and help create a sense of relaxation. Such arrangements are particularly being seen in breakout areas.
As well, manufactures are producing patterns and colours which aid wayfinding.
Asked about considerations other than feel, Martin says the flooring type chosen should be fit for purpose. A common mistake, he says, is to specify products are not suitable for the environment in which they will be installed.
Beyond that, products must also meet user requirements. In this regard, Martin stresses the need to consider issues such as the adequacy of warranties provided.
On cost, Martin says materials have different variations to cater for a range of budgets. Carpet tiles, for instance, range from between $20 per sqm to $150 per sqm. Whilst quality hardwood timber floors might set you back north of $100 per sqm, timber laminates which are still good performers can go as low as $50 per sqm.
He says the main thing is selecting the right product for the right environment.
“It comes back to ensuring that the project which is specified is fit for purpose,” Martin said.
“It’s ensuring that architects and designers collaborate with each manufacturer and their representatives to make sure that they get the right product selected for what they are putting it into.”