Q+A

Interior design specialists share their opinions on what makes for flooring success

Tim Hubbard,
Founder, 93ft

Q: How integral to the success of a project is the flooring?
The flooring is absolutely crucial. It sets the tone for the rest of the project and gives an overall perception of what the project story is about.

Q: What type of flooring do you specify most often?
Difficult to say, and it's obviously always down to each project and budget. We always try to make sure where we can that a stunning floor is part of the scheme.

Q: What's the best value to be had in the flooring market right now?
This must be the use of reclaimed timber. It varies wildly in cost, but either way to be able to fit a solid floor with all the patina that comes for free is a massive advantage to the overall scheme. We often use reclaimed parquet and strip flooring.

Q: If money was no object, what types of flooring would be on your spec list?
Again, it all depends on budget but nothing beats a polished concrete floor in the right environment. However, it would be a close call between that and a rare, reclaimed timber floor.

Project spotlight:
King Street retail space, Manchester
Client: Jones and Co.

'We recently completed an optician's on King Street, Manchester, called Jones and Co. The store is split into two distinct areas in an old building that used to be an bank.

'We used reclaimed parquet to define the direction and bring a little nostalgia into the space. The floor went down exactly as it had been taken up from another building. We didn't do anything to it apart from a clean and a couple of coats of varnish. It gets better and better with use.

'That the flooring has already had 100 years of wear and tear and in its new environment continues to look the part says how important it is to consider the flooring choice wisely.'

Frances Blackham,
Design director, Trevillion Interiors

Q: How integral to the success of a project is the flooring?
Fundamentally the flooring has to perform - being 'fit for purpose' would be the overriding requirement. We would then consider our budget, any structural or installation constraints and then consider what we wanted to achieve in terms of aesthetics.

Q: What type of flooring do you specify most often?
Carpet is probably the most frequently specified flooring, as it fulfils most design and functional criteria.

Q: What's the best value to be had in the flooring market right now?
Again, as well as being the most flexible in most cases, carpet is probably the most cost-effective flooring solution.

Q: If money was no object, what types of flooring would be on your spec list?
It really very much depends on the location, and the floor covering's future efficiency in terms of the likely onward care and maintenance. Of course, the client's desired visual effect is one of the main factors when it comes to designing or choosing the flooring.

In terms of carpet, if money were no object, we would probably specify a beautiful Wilton construction carpet or one that has been hand tufted and carved for a true feeling of luxury. If a hard floor surface would be more suitable for the location, then a natural stone would be our preference, but there's so much to choose from in terms of timber too, with reclaimed, solid and engineered wood featuring high up on our list.

Project spotlight:
Atrium Bar, London
Client: Imperial Hotel, London
Flooring supplier: Wilton Carpets Commercial

'We were recently asked to redesign the Atrium Bar at the Imperial hotel in Russell Square, and wanted to create a carpet that embodied the spirit of the roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age.

'The interior architecture of the bar lends itself well to art deco styling, with wall panelling, mirrored columns, and plenty of natural light from the glazed atrium directly above the 'bar, deisgned as an island.

'We wanted the floorcovering to emphasise the space and to complement the change of floor levels. The carpet design uses eye-catching deco colours of charcoal and gold and features a large-scale pattern that adds a definite sense of grandeur. The bar is an inspiring reflection of art deco style, with the carpet's swirling geometric design repeat complementing the sumptuous furnishings and glitzy, elegant decor.'

Xavi Bas,
Architect, Studio Mias

Q: How integral to the success of a project is the flooring?
Choosing the right flooring type allows a great degree of freedom regarding building services (such as IT/ communications, electricity and other utilities) due to the complete adaptability of the technical solution of the module to geometry and planeity.

Q: What type of flooring do you specify most often?
Raised technical floorings give us the flexibility we need for many of the projects that we undertake. It has to be easy to manipulate, highly durable and resilient.

Q: If money was no object, what types of flooring would be on your spec list?
Stone, wood and synthetic materials.

Project spotlight:
'Il Cielo' headquarters building, Barcelona
Client: iGuzzini
Flooring supplier: Marazzi Tile and Floor Coverings

'The paving in the new Spanish HQ of iGuzzini lighting - in the town of Sant Cugat del Vallès, near Barcelona - is one of my best references. It was really difficult to fit into the circular geometry and to adjust the flooring to work to the perimeter of the central court.

'The flooring had to be precisely drawn and perfectly inserted into the place. It is also ideal for the 'installation' requirements of the client. The space frequently has to be reconfigured to display different lighting products so the floor has to be easy to install and remove in order to place the cables and equipment whenever needed.

'For the covering of all horizontal and vertical finishes, interior and exterior, the porcelain stoneware Marazzi Tecnica SistemT Dark Grey was used, which is available in different sizes and finishes.'

Fabian Galama,
Interior/3D designer, Bright 3D

Q: How integral to the success of a project is the flooring?
Flooring is always one of my favourite elements to work with in an interior. The user of a space has a much more tactile relation to it in comparison to walls and ceilings.

The constant interaction with the floor addresses issues such as durability, comfort, texture, colour, sound resonance and cleaning - it all has to come together into one product, and as to look great too.

From a design point of view, often the functional side still wins over the visual. However, I think it well-worth investing in a good and aesthetically pleasing floor design, since it has to do so many things at the same time.

Q: What type of flooring do you specify most often?
We specify wood, stone, linoleum and now rubber, as an increasingly popular product. We try not to use unsustainable vinyl.

Q: What's the best value to be had in the flooring market right now?
I would say rubber flooring offers the best value at the moment. The industry has moved on from the gym floors we are most familiar with and now has current floor design, suitable for contemporary domestic and work environments.

The quality and performance of rubber flooring is excellent. It is warm and playful, very easy to apply, clean and maintain. It is sound absorbent and, above all, an environmentally friendly product, which is an inescapable factor these days.

Q: If money was no object, what types of flooring would be on your spec list?
Besides rubber, I would specify polished concrete and certain marble. Wooden floors I like best when made from recycled wood, which can be more expensive than new.

Project spotlight:
Offices, Quartermile One, Edinburgh
Client: Skyscanner
Flooring supplier: Nora

'The flooring played a very important role in the success of this project. In this building by Foster + Partners, the walls are all glass and the ceiling houses lights and services. The floor was the largest canvas we had at our disposal, and the design had to represent the image of a young, colourful and innovative digital company.

'Skyscanner requested an openplan office layout, despite the need for separate meeting rooms. So the floor design does not 'acknowledge' partition walls, and shows off the whole office as one space.

'Also, Skyscanner wanted to move away from the traditional carpeted office and use a current sustainable product: the rubber flooring by Nora seemed to tick all the boxes.'

Steve La Bouchardiere,
Managing director, designLSM

Q: How integral to the success of a project is the flooring?
It's a fundamental part of any design and adds tremendously to ambience of the space. It can make or break a scheme.

Q: What type of flooring do you specify most often?
Ceramic , solid hardwood, engineered floors. Cost is a big consideration.

Q: What's the best value to be had in the flooring market right now?
In terms of price flooring hasn't varied too much over the years - timber for example can still range from as little as £20 to £250 a metre. In terms of choice however, there is a lot more variety available.

Q: If money was no object, what types of flooring would be on your spec list?
I've always been,and continue to be, a big fan of resin-based aggregate floor systems and natural stone slabs.

Project spotlight:
Quilon restaurant, London
Client: Quilon
Flooring supplier: Solus Ceramics

'Following a whistle-stop trip to southern India to pick up ideas and inspiration, we wanted to recreate the same sense of serenity coupled with the first-class hospitality you experience in Indian hotels. Quilon customers can escape the bustling streets of London and enjoy a sophisticated, tranquil dining experience.

'Quilon is located in Buckingham Gate, a busy part on London - though no match to Mumbai - and designLSM wanted to create that soothing, welcoming oasis that we had experienced in India at the places we stayed. We wanted customers to step off the street and into another world full of flavour and atmosphere.

'Karen Mitton, our senior designer, chose Solus Ceramics to supply cool floor tiles from its Solar range to complement the subtle branding designLSM had created for the restaurant and bar menus.

'Solus Ceramics also supplied tiling solutions to various parts of the restaurant and applied waterjet-cut tiles to the intricate entrance. Bespoke-cut flooring tiles were laid in the reception with unique bronze inserts to create a feature.'

This article was first published in fx Magazine.





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