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Watch Your Step

Textile World looks at floor covering and upholstery developments

Jennifer Dennard, Managing Editor

I n typical ambulatory style, the general population walks across a variety of floor covering products each day without giving a passing thought to what's underfoot  - a finely burnished hardwood floor in a neighbor's dining room. A rather shaggy rug left over from the 70s at Grandmother's house. How bout the rather nondescript carpet that covers every inch of the typical office floor? Several floor covering companies in recent months have introduced new product lines that promise to put some color and pattern back under your feet, as well as add stain-lifting, antimicrobial and environmentally friendly properties.


Creating A Vibe
Interior designers looking for a way to jazz up certain carpet designs need look no further than the new Color Vibe process from LaGrange, Ga.-based Milliken Carpet. The process offers what the company calls high-energy accent colors such as raspberry, sunshine, ruby, sky, mango, emerald, violet, aqua and indigo that can be added to existing Milliken carpet patterns for that certain spark - sure to get the attention of any walker-by.

"Color Vibe allows designers to further customize the floor without spending time and money on a customs process," said Alison Kitchingman, director of marketing, Milliken Carpet.

Milliken Carpet's Remix collection features the company's color vibe process by which an accent color of choice may be added to carpets found in the Remix of Step Out collections.

The Remix and Step Out carpet collections from Milliken feature the Color Vibe customization process. Their base color treatments include neutral grays, beiges and olives, and blues and greens.

Step Out includes patterns that give a contemporary feel to elliptical loops and Pop Art dots, as well as bubbles and fizz designs, all overlaid on a funky grid work, according to the company. The group features five patterns, each in five colors.

Remix patterns display basket weaves, organic botanical and sisal-inspired pinstripes. The group features four patterns, each in 16 colors.

Colors in the two collections can be specified as is or remixed to include the Color Vibe accent color of choice.

Taking Upholstery
Fabrics In A New Direction

Quaker Fabric Corp., Fall River, Mass., reports its new sueded velvet collection of furniture upholstery fabrics offers customers a smart, environmentally friendly alternative to microdenier faux suede, while also delivering enhanced color and pattern design, softer hand, and superior performance.

The collection features plaids, contemporary geometrics and coordinated plain and jacquard stripes all manufactured without releasing toxic effluent into the environment.

"We decided sueded velvet was the best way of capturing the velvety soft hand and the rich sumptuous look of these fabrics, and that's how they got their name," said Larry A. Liebenow, president and CEO. "These products come with the service and quality advantages only a US-based fabric manufacturer can offer the color consistency that flows from the use of pigmented yarns the performance characteristics inherent in all of Quakers Ultra fabrics - stain resistance, durability and cleanability."


Think Luxury
The Kennesaw, Ga.-based Mohawk Group recently introduced a number of new carpet collections across a range of brands all devoted to luxury in the contract design market.

"Luxury increasingly is emerging as a trend in contract design, and all of our brands - Karastan Contract, Durkan Commercial, Mohawk Commercial and Bigelow Commercial - are responding to it," said Tom Lape, president. "Our newest designs reflect the upscale qualities and characteristics that help to define luxury, yet they still are practical and purposeful for commercial applications."

Karastan Contract brought in architect Shashi Caan to design a line of woven carpets that combine the 3D elements of traditional hard-surface architectural elements such as concrete, rebar, steel girders and undulating glass with soft floor coverings. The resultant Translations line contains four patterns Glass Lines, Gridded Steel, Molten Weave and Ribbed Concrete created with a new yarn system and a re-engineering of the company's looms. Yarns are made from Invista Antron® enhanced polymer nylon 6,6 skein-dyeable metallic fibers, which impart a high-luster effect. Pile heights on existing looms were reset to unconventional measures in order to create the 3D effects.

The color palette includes flat neutral tones, sea glass blues and greens, and steely grays all reflective of the architectural surfaces they are based upon.

Probable end-uses for the Translations line include retail, public and corporate spaces.

Karastan Contract continues its theme of luxury with Chenille Concepts, a woven floor covering product that takes the look of chenille textiles found in upholstery and applies it to floor surfaces. The cut pile of space-dyed yarns imparts linear patterns and multicolor tonal effects. Shown in 13 colors, the new line is able to effectively conceal wear, stains and soil, according to the company. The collection is a suitable coordinate with Mohawk's Brocatelle collection - a classic loop cut small-scale grid pattern available in 21 color options.

Durkan Commercial echoes this same theme of all things luxurious, with two new commercial carpet collections - The Moroccan Series and Etchings.The Moroccan Series features a tufted construction with a grid-like arrangement of patterned cut and loop texture. The group's four designs available in 17 colors include: Morocco II, a staggered stripe effect; Agadir, a textured coordinate; Kenitra, large-scale blocks; and Marrakesh, small-scale blocks.

Mohawk's Ultra Performance System (UPS) - a patented technology that enhances tufted carpet performance and enables installation flexibility - is incorporated into the carpet construction. The Etchings collection features a traditional boucltyle enriched with a dimensional, decorative pattern with subtle tone-on-tone coloring elements. Four patterns - Pin Scribed, Chiseled Edge, Laser Cut and Etched Weave - are available in 28 colors. The carpet is a precision cut and loop with a higher percentage of loop to ensure exceptional performance, according to Durkan Commercial. Bigelow Commercial has put a touch of luxury into its Renaissance collection for the institutional, retail and corporate environments, among others, that call for a high-end look and feel.Inspired by chiaroscuro a Renaissance painting technique based on light and shadow interaction the three patterns in the collection are made of a patterned and loop tufted construction that features a new proprietary yarn that imparts a shiny effect and the suggestion of shadowy contrasts.

The Fab and Wow paired collection, just as its name implies, delivers a high level of visual interest and textural effect just what a pair of feet might want to experience as they traverse a carpeted space. Available in 12 colorways, the collection combines yarns in a range of sizes in weaves that appear to be overlaid with color fields. Pebbled color and accent tones enhance the geometric motif.

Mohawk Commercial now offers three new patterns with its Initiative carpet tile collection, in which very long strands of color repeat and reverse throughout the length and the width of the tiles, which can be arranged in any configuration.

Pattern choices include Too Fresh, with the look of an abstract non-directional grid; A2Z, inspired by the look of Art Deco fabrics; and Brain Box, featuring unique swirls with geometric suggestions. Each pattern is available in nine colorways, each containing seven colors. The new designs also are offered with companion broadlooms, also available in nine colorways, each with seven individual colors.

The Initiative collection also features UPS technology, as well as UltraSet Modular system backing a hard tile back structuring that features a high level of resiliency and performance to ensure against cupping, dishing and doming.Sisal weaves can be seen underfoot in the Rhythm in Weave woven carpet collection. Inspired Sisal and Fresh Tapestry patterns impart warm, natural textures through balanced patterns and natural hues. Thirteen colorways are available.

Mohawk Carpet's commercial contract brands feature the theme of luxury in their latest collections.

Think Environmentally Friendly
While luxury seems to be a predominant theme at Mohawk, the company never veers from its goal of producing commercial carpet that is at once attractive and environmentally sound.

"While performance issues are at the forefront of our decisions, our challenge is to understand the ecological impact of every process, to question our assumptions as we search for a better way, and to ensure that ultimately we are making the right decision for the right reason," said Lape.

UPS re is the latest generation of Mohawks UPS technology. According to Mohawk, the new technology, which is scheduled to be available by the beginning of next year, provides carpets with the highest level of post-consumer recycled content of any widely available commercial carpeting in the industry. Recycled materials are integrated directly into the UPS foundation, producing carpet that has at least 15 percent post-consumer content based on total product weight. The new technology: increases the lifespan of tufted carpet, reducing the environmental footprint left by additional cycles of replacement; reduces the need to use natural resources, substituting them with materials diverted from landfills; can potentially divert more than 8 million pounds of such materials from landfills just in the first year; and can be recycled and converted into more useful products for several generations.

European Associations Agree To Standardized Floor Covering Symbols
In an effort to effectively communicate floor covering product attributes and classifications in an organized and standardized manner, three European associations representing resilient, textile and laminate floor coverings have agreed on a list of standardized symbols related to European testing standards.

The European Resilient Flooring Manufacturers Institute and the European Carpet and Rug Association, both based in Brussels, and the Germany-based European Producers of Laminate Flooring in cooperation with the European Committee for Standardization, also based in Brussels, have issued a report that establishes a system of graphic symbols and specifies their use in the marking of the following: floor panels for loose laying; laminate floor coverings; textile floor coverings excluding loose-laid mats; and resilient plastic, linoleum, cork or rubber floor coverings excluding loose-laid mats.More information can be found at www.floorsymbols.com

July 2005