Designed to combine for beautiful floors.
By SAMANTHA DAWE MARKETING MANAGER EMEA SHAW CONTRACT.
AS an interior designer when you’re designing a space, there really are almost limitless possibilities. Carpet tiles are a really great design tool because there’s so much flexibility to make an eye-catching statement on the floor and change the whole feel of the space.
From work-desk areas to meeting rooms, transition, collaboration and quiet zones, carpet tiles work can work to realise great designs, and are an easy solution to create distinctive and comfortable interiors. While a range of weight and thickness of carpet tile options provide for underfoot comfort, there are additional benefits to specifying carpet tiles in terms of occupant comfort.
Carpet tiles as a flooring solution are ideal for spaces that need some kind of noise insulation, such as an office environment. Carpet tiles can absorb sound and reduce impact noise at the source. Acoustic consideration and treatments have become an increasingly important issue in open plan spaces to enable comfortable and productive workspaces.
The need for interior fit-out solutions to be able to support health and wellbeing in today’s workplace is becoming increasingly recognised. It’s been stated that the average person may spend as much as 90% of their time indoors, and even with flexible working practices we’re seeing more people spending more time inside their workplace.
How they feel within this environment is therefore critical. Material health and product ingredients have become a part of the wellbeing conversation. Quality assurance and value retention through the use of materials that are verified to be safe and healthy for humans and the environment is a fundamental part of key initiatives such as the Cradle to Cradle certification of products.
How a space looks also influences how people feel about it and how comfortable they are within it. For example, every designer likes to use colour in a corporate environment and it makes a space feel more interesting and provides a sense of identity in different spaces.
Increasingly popular are soft, brighter colour tones which add a clean and crisp feel to any design, in combination with subtle neutrals.
And with carpet tiles the options to work with a range of shapes and patterns is also part of the opportunity to make spaces feel individual.
Shaping up for design options
Carpet tiles themselves come in different shapes and patterns, offering a whole range of choices that can reflect a brand experience or the desired aesthetic of an office or workspace. Carpet tile options include a range of sizes and shapes: from large and small squares to skinny and large planks, and hexagon tiles.
The elementary building block is the square. This shape is the foundation for most product ranges and usually used to create an environment of continuous uninterrupted pattern to flow as needed. Alternatively, the perfect square shape of a carpet tile is also ideal for creating geometric, repeated patterns in an overall installation.
Installing hexagon shape carpet tiles can influence the workspace mood: hexagons can create the feeling of social hives of collaboration, colour and movement. The hexagon reflects the cultural shift toward more collaborative environments – influencing the ways we work, walk, communicate and create.
Plank shape carpet tiles are a popular innovation as they offer the opportunity to create flooring features and allow you to make progressive patterns and colour in your space. The rectangular proportion gives the designer an opportunity to try different installations from herringbone to basket-weave to chevrons.
Carpet tile shapes can also work in unison. The colour foundation range we launched was designed from the outset for modular integration and so the two shapes – colour square and colour rectangle – work cohesively together to add even more choice to the floor designs you can create.
The collaboration between Shaw Contract and Swedish design firm Form Us with Love took the idea of shapes one step further. The journey began by rethinking the tile as an object, not a surface.
This opened up opportunities for exploring what a carpet tile could be, beyond variations of pattern and colour. Instead of designing a product we wondered if we could design a toolkit for others to design their own product.
Different shapes present intriguing possibilities for creative expression. We settled on four shapes that each combine to form a standard 24in square tile: the square, the curve, the point and the diagonal. A palette of twelve colours derived from architectural materials, introduced light and dark variations for added dimension.
Called Inside Shapes, this award-winning collection has also brought a sense of fun and curiosity into the design process. Shapes can be specified in colour combinations and or shape combinations, or both – the possibilities are endless.
Play with pattern
Carpet tiles offer easy possibilities to mix and match different shapes for great effect. But they also provide the opportunity to create patterns using these shapes.
By simply changing the installation of the same pattern from a monolithic layout to a herringbone layout using a plank shape carpet tiles gives a designer the opportunity to create a different mood within a space. And by combining colours and shapes, patterns are formed. Shapes form out of shapes through geometry.
Patterned carpet tiles offer yet another option. New pattern matching technology ensures that design and patterns in carpet tile production are maintained. Patterns can also be a very practical choice as patterned carpet tiles typically are better for high traffic areas to hide soil and stains.
Patterned carpet tiles are usually chosen by the designer to complement the overall design theme that has been identified for the project. Some popular design choices using patterned carpet tiles to create specific responses include:
- using pattern when you want to change from corridor to work space;
- using larger-scale patterns to help a large space feel more interesting for conference centres, hospitality areas and airports;
- patterned carpet tiles laid to resemble broadloom carpet to give a space more of a luxury feel.
In the hospitality sector, the use of carpet tile creates further design opportunities and solutions for end-use needs, including the ability to install one room at a time with little disruption to other property areas, and the maintenance ease of 100% nylon carpet.
Patterns are usually specified to create an element of drama. However natural tones and patterns restore our sense of calm and help us feel more grounded. Injecting plain, simple patterns to the space changes the mood and allows the floor to be quiet and simple.
By way of contrast, bold colours, stripes and graphic patterns can create a dynamic interplay that suggests energy and activity.
Many carpet tile patterns are inspired by the natural world – rock formations or other surfaces from nature. This connection of the interior to the world outside is a popular trend and suggests a need to step away from the man-made urban environment and re-connect with the natural world instead.
In Synchronize, our designers were drawn to murmuration, the act of massive flocks of starlings moving fluidly in unison throughout the sky. There is no single leader. Instead, bird flocks form massive waves of movement in symphony.
Murmuration reflects what humans can do in cadence and collaboration with one another – travelling, working and moving through a space, fluidly and in tandem to produce something incredible.
The high-resolution, dye-injection patterns offer unlimited capabilities in colour and style, capturing the watercolour backdrop of clouds with both abstract and realistic starlings in flight.
With the Haven collection, the inspiration was to bring the feeling of home. Here pattern and texture evoke the supple texture of a favourite sweater or graceful woven fabric.
Which brings us to the consideration of texture.
A third dimension
As well as the shapes and patterns that are available, carpet tiles can incorporate different textures to add a third dimension to a space.
Texture has grown in importance as a key element of carpet tile specification and has been also been enabled through new manufacturing techniques. Texture adds a new, tactile dimension to the floor.
A relaxing space that could constitute a ‘chill out’ office zone or lobby waiting room is likely to need a large, bulky texture which can give a feeling of a plush, comforting experience. Cut pile carpet tiles present a luxurious finish with a soft feel and plush appearance.
Loop pile carpet tiles also provide a soft feel and add an element of luxury and comfort. Level loop piles with short and densely packed loops prevent dirt from filtering into carpet and are easy to clean, making it ideal for high traffic areas.
Textured loop pile carpet tiles combine the robust, hardwearing performance of a loop pile construction with a range of design possibilities. With a tailored, simple texture the architectural qualities of the space become the statement.
Carpet tiles offer good wear performance and are easy to clean. However, it’s their design flexibility that also makes carpet tiles a popular choice in a range of environments.
They’re also being combined with other flooring solutions, for example, resilient flooring solutions in workplace and hospitality spaces. This has again been driven by the design trend for different functional zones in large open plan areas, as well as evolving design aesthetics.
The option to create rug effects with carpet tiles and combine them with resilient flooring opens up a whole new range of options for interior schemes in modern settings.