Flooring Focus Q&A: Sarah Dodsworth

Sarah Dodsworth founding partner at Ekho Studio, on striking the right note between subtle and versatile flooring, versus going bold and brave...

Which flooring materials do you particularly like working with and why?

I am drawn to the classics every time. Natural products like timber and stone – whether in their original form or a terrazzo-type format – never fail to pull on my design sensibilities because of the overall quality they contribute to a scheme, including richness of grain and sumptuous tones.

I am also a fan of cork products, and we are exploring this in plank form across a couple of our live schemes. It’s an easy product to pitch to a client, given that it’s natural and low carbon with a beautiful aesthetic quality. It’s easy to install, great for acoustics and well-priced to boot.

Monolithic flooring allows for the proud presentation of objects.

How do you keep up-to-date with the latest flooring products on the market? Is there scope for using some of the very latest material technology in projects or do clients tend to have a preference for more traditional solutions?

Manufacturers do a good job at keeping our team up to date about new products and we’re often to be found at Material Source in Manchester seeking out ideas and applications.

I tend to be a bit of a minimalist in my approach to selecting flooring products, certainly across large areas of coverage. I think this is down to years of designing spaces that have a client-driven multi-functional brief, so the more superfluous and monolithic the flooring plane, the easier it is for these spaces to flex and evolve over time, with furniture settings often modular and moveable. Of course, this all depends on the type of space we’re designing, and the client brief. A key focus at Ekho Studio is to approach sustainability by designing with longevity in mind. This approach really does offer our clients longer term value.

Wood finishes can also offer differentiation of zones in a fluid manner. Image Credit: Billy Bolton

That said, I’m also a fan of using flooring to help to define pockets of space and furniture settings. You will see a consistent theme of loose rugs appearing in our schemes for this reason. They offer the perfect accompaniment to the main, typical ‘hard’ flooring, often contrasting by introducing soft textures, colour and patterns. These also add warmth and contribute to the acoustic quality of a space. We love working with Clerkenwell Rug Studio as their ranges offer so much in the way of being able to easily tailor a standard product. I also admire the quality of the &Tradition rug products.

How can designers look to exploit the potential of creative flooring, both in terms of design ideas, and material choices, in a range of different applications?

I think this comes down to a willingness to be bold and to try out new ideas where you can, and when the opportunity presents itself. There is something very satisfying about transforming a space utilising a standard product but executed in a clever way.

You can take a typical square format porcelain tile, for example, and with time and a bit of extra effort, can create a stunning and fun installation unique to your scheme. I think that a client would always appreciate this as it adds value and visual joy.

We are fans of the Halogen range by Solus which comes in a myriad of sizes and loads of pastel and earthy colours.

What would be your dream flooring material and how would it make a difference to your projects?

I would absolutely love to create a bespoke terrazzo product on a scheme by utilising building demolition material as the aggregate. We are working on a scheme in Glasgow on which some of the existing 1960s travertine cladding is to be removed. The idea has been tabled to explore its viability.

This not only feeds into my passion for celebrating high quality, natural materials (in this case stone,) but it also respects the building’s context and historical narrative. www.ekho.studio

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