As partner and Director of Design with Moody Nolan, Eileen Goodman offers a unique perspective of the flooring industry – from manufacturing to installation to maintenance. Her design career spans over three decades and she’s been with Moody Nolan, a national leader in architecture, civil engineering and interior design, for the past 26 years. Experienced in the full spectrum of interior design, including work on retail, corporate office, healthcare, and educational facilities, Eileen explains why flooring is often the catalyst for interior design and why it plays such an important role in each stage of a design project.
Where Flooring Falls Into the Design Process
For Eileen, design projects typically begin with a visioning session to establish the client’s goals and objectives. From there, using site evaluations and a process called nine square, designs ranging from traditional to cutting edge are considered. Although flooring is not the first thought at the beginning of a design project, it plays a key role in the selection of other materials.
Durability, lifecycle cost, sustainability, aesthetics, and budget are all criteria that Eileen is aware of when choosing materials, especially in relation to the floor. “Flooring oftentimes starts to set the tone for your other finish material selections,” Eileen explains. “If we’re picking out a specific carpet it gives me less options than there are for wall paint. I can match paint on the wall to any color.” Once flooring materials are selected, designers begin to develop a palette of finish materials. Eileen points out color is always instrumental, especially when representing a brand. “We’re working really hard to make sure brand integration transpires in the client’s realization of what they want their projects to become,” she notes.
The Future of Flooring From a Design Perspective
When asked where she sees the flooring industry headed, Eileen identifies two trends that she believes have staying power. “One of the strongest trends that I see right now is the large format tiles and I think it’s going to be around to stay provided manufacturers continue to produce them in sustainable ways and the product holds up like they say it’s going to.” She suggests that durability of materials, a desire to extend a product’s lifecycle, and being mindful of operational and maintenance budgets are key reasons why this trend will have shelf life.
Another trend on an upward tick is the blending of mixed materials for different uses on a single project. “I think the use of multiple, different kinds of products is going to maintain its trend,” Eileen states, “I think it’s important because you are trying to create different experiences throughout a space.”
In terms of manufacturing, Eileen notes the wealth of information available from some manufacturer’s websites is incredibly useful in the design process. “Different manufacturers have all of these amazing patterns you can create with their products,” she points out. “When you have it set up in BIM or Revit, you can integrate it into your documents and then the ability for designers to bring the design to a higher level becomes very, very strong.” What manufacturers are offering on their sites varies, but Eileen notes any interface that is compatible with design platforms and helps plug products into drawings is always useful.
Despite trends that seem to favor resilient flooring or stone, Eileen reminds us that there will always be a marketplace for carpet. Eileen describes one of many examples. “Sometimes you need it in a big, open office environment because you’ve got acoustic issues. Carpet gives you that quietness.” She points out that carpet tile, specifically, has become a versatile product that is a much more convenient and acceptable option for clients. She notes, “You’re seeing a lot of manufacturers that didn’t use to produce it jumping on the carpet tile bandwagon and I think that will continue.”
Sustainability is a Consideration
Some define sustainability as a product that lasts an extended period of time while maintaining its integrity. A more “green” interpretation characterizes the word as a representation of a product’s renewability. Eileen proposes that sustainability is both. “I think sustainability is important as far as the selection of the product that you’re making so that you are doing something that’s not going to end up in a landfill.” She notes that having a long shelf life and maintaining its aesthetic and objectives are vital in a sustainable product.
There is, however, a flip side. Eileen suggests, “When you’re picking out a carpet or a cork floor or an LVT, you should be picking out a product that’s been made with renewable materials.” She encourages designers to consider environmental factors and promotes a more sensible, thoughtful process when selecting flooring products.
The Designer/Manufacturer/Service Provider Relationship
When asked who designers turn to when they need information regarding flooring products, Eileen states that manufacturer reps and flooring installers are equally important. “We lean on reps for product specifics. We’re leaning on the installers for installation criteria,” she notes.
Reps with quality products and solid relationships with designers tend to become trusted allies. Because of the vast and varied selection of available flooring materials, some designers look to reps on a regular basis for recommendations. “When it comes to particularly younger designers, if they have a rep that they trust, they’ll tend to lean on that rep a little more comprehensively.”
Installers provide beneficial information on how to transition products, draw carpet layouts on plans, and create seaming diagrams.
When to Talk About Flooring Maintenance
The conversation about maintenance, according to Eileen, needs to happen very early on in the design process. “Oftentimes, depending on how savvy our clients are, they’ll have their facilities folks involved in the visioning design meetings throughout the process so they know what they’ll be maintaining,” she explains. “The integration with maintenance very early on in the process is what we try to establish with the tone and tenor of the client.”
About Moody Nolan
Moody Nolan is a design firm offering services in architecture, civil engineering, planning and interior design. They adapt their talents quickly to address each client’s unique vision. In doing so, they create functional yet iconic design statements that respond to ever-evolving spaces, aesthetics and site dynamics. Simply put, spaces that perform and inspire. Learn more about Moody Nolan today!