The intense and rising competitiveness of the European flooring sector is immediately apparent from the DOMOTEX 2017 show numbers which hosted 1409 exhibitors from more than 60 countries.
The show was notable for considerable growth in the number of exhibitors this year and the total amount of space booked, and with an even higher percentage of exhibitors and visitors from abroad compared to previous shows. Around 70% of DOMOTEX visitors this year were from outside Germany, with the majority (43%) coming from other EU countries. Total visitor numbers were slightly down on previous years, but there was a significant increase in visitors from the Near and Middle East (up 9%) as well as East and Central Asia (up 16%). Appreciably more visitors also came from the U.S. and the UK.
An insight into potentially significant innovations in the European flooring sector was provided by the prestigious Innovations@DOMOTEX display selected from products on show by a jury of experts from the fields of design, architecture, the media and interior design. Their choices implied strong interest in sustainable design and a preference for products with a natural look and feel, whose textures, materials, motifs and surfaces take their cues from nature. Trend-spotters believe that grey or blends of grey and beige – "greige" – will remain the top sellers, while dark floorings are less popular with buyers. Textured surfaces are seen as “the next big thing” in wood and parquet flooring. There were a lot of "used" and grainy patterns and finishes on display - floorings designed to look brushed and often made from of reclaimed materials.
Vintage-look materials remain in fashion, along with knot holes, core splits and even traces of the saw blade or flakes of cement. This is true both of natural wood flooring and laminated wood flooring sector, the latter now exploiting increasingly sophisticated digital printing technology. Various innovations were on display to improve service life of wood flooring in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms where wood has not traditionally been widely used. For example French manufacturer Design Parquet was promoting their patented Navylam+ system comprising strips of tropical wood, favoured both for its look and natural durability, which are pre-oiled and with an integrated jointing system.
Another highly innovative product designed to extend wood’s range of applications even further was "Lambdafloor" by Poland's Prestige which boasts an aluminum layer between the wooden surface and the water-repellent base material, in this way augmenting the thermal conductivity for use with underfloor heating systems. DOMOTEX 2017 highlighted that increasingly flexible and modular wood flooring products continue to be developed that are easier and less time-consuming to install and maintain, solvent free, better for indoor air quality and personal health and hygiene, and which offer other benefits in terms of durability and improved footfall dampening.