Vinyl is back in fashion

From music to flooring, vinyl has made a comeback, and it is more versatile than ever. Flooring specialists Gerflor examine the trends .

Bold design statements can either pay off stunningly well or, much like the derided 1970s pebble-dash, backfire woefully. Thankfully, the vinyl flooring market today provides a wide range of colours and textures that can help architects create attractive modern designs that will last through the years.

One particular range of solutions known for its quality and durability is luxury vinyl tiles and planks (or LVT for short). Vinyl is experiencing a resurgence in popularity and is in many cases the material of choice for architects wishing to achieve levels of vibrancy that traditional wooden floors cannot offer.

Bolt onto this LVT’s safety credentials along with its ease of maintenance, and one can clearly see the many benefits of this material.

Versatility & choice

Original, well thought-out vinyl designs have helped the material become one of the most popular and sought-after solutions on the flooring market today. This is due in large part to the versatility of luxury vinyl designs which are often inspired by a wide range of influences.

“I take influences from all over the world, which includes fashion, architecture, statues, vintage street life and more,” explained Gino Venturelli, creative director of Gerflor.  “It’s all about delivering flooring that not only looks great but works in the environment that it’s designed for. For example, you can’t put vibrant colours in a school for teenagers, it just makes them more frenetic than they already are. This why we design calming, pastel colours for these environments,” he added.

LVT’s wide-ranging features are among its main strengths. For example there is completely waterproof luxury vinyl, and advanced technologies have allowed the creation of designs that strongly resemble original materials without giving the impression of vinyl. Venturelli adds: “It’s true to say that if you can find space in your mind to develop new innovative designs, then we must surely leave space to make room for textured designs that relate to other materials.”

Design freedom

When designing with vinyl, it’s important for designers to not limit themselves to just one set of ideas. Instead, exploring a number of options and allowing a variety of influences to drive the final design can be key to developing a unique material.

Taking advantage of technology is also vital, and a main driver to create a more natural-looking design. For example, designing a carpet-like vinyl flooring could provide the warmth and neutrality of textile combined with the safety benefits of LVT. In addition to these technological advancements, there is also the need to focus on interpreting the current and future situations with increased creative contributions.

For example, designs and textures have been created from timber or concrete, overlaying the product with sandblasted effects. This has the aesthetic benefit of adding tones onto tones, or even simply using coloured vintage stencils to create an effect, refreshing and renewing vinyl’s potential.

Wide application

LVT is expanding beyond its traditional use in retail and hospitality, into healthcare, education and a host of other sectors. Hospitals and clinic centres are ‘mixing and matching’ LVT designs in lobbies, while schools are laying wood-look LVT in corridors to create interiors that look less institutional.

Moreover, the material’s ease of maintenance and hard-wearing features have also been exploited by manufacturers. Today, the performance of resilient flooring has been improved by the addition of surface protection treatments to reduce the amount of on-going time and costs associated with its maintenance. Finally, it’s important to mention that LVT is often specified by contractors due to the ease with which it is laid and glued to surfaces.

Marrying old & new

Traditionally, marble and stone are two of the most often specified materials for flooring. These products continue to deliver an important element to any flooring design, as they represents a degree of sophistication and elegance along with a ‘timeless’ feel. Just think about the Vatican or any ancient building elsewhere in the world and the characteristic benefits are obvious.

However, just as marble and stone are open to new design interpretations, such as different sizes and unusual geometric shapes, vinyl flooring is becoming more creative. Gino Venturelli comments:

“For 2017 and moving into 2018 there’s going to be a strong return to creativity, allowing us to enhance our products through marrying up original ideas with modern solutions and technologies. It’s all about delivering a product that’s truly fit for purpose and future-proof for building interiors for years to come.”