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Treading wisely

FMJ asked three flooring specialists to sum up the important role of flooring in contemporary workplace design. Plus a look at the latest in vacuum technology


The trend to make buildings look warm and comforting has changed the way we look at floors. Clinical and fit for purpose are no longer good enough. The options are out there to use floors in design to help create calm or stimulating environments, for wayfinding or for a welcoming home-from-home look.

Wayfinding is important in all buildings. Good wayfinding helps people navigate unfamiliar environments and follow the pathways that will get them to their destination. If you are in an unfamiliar place, then it’s essential that we design that place to be as easy to navigate as possible to avoid distress and anxiety.

Using floors in different colours or designs can serve as a directional tool and create pathways, helping people identify routes, especially in busy circulation areas. Flooring can also be used to encourage preferred routes and natural transition between spaces. For instance, if you wanted to encourage free movement in a general circulation area, you would do best to stick to the same floor, design and colour throughout. Changes in flooring can help alert people to ‘no entry’ zones and differentiate between public and private areas, so a change in flooring colour could encourage someone to check they are going the right way.

Images and artwork on walls can also be beneficial. Artwork can be used as a tool to bring biophilic principles into the space, and it can also create landmarks and features to help with navigation such as a logo, lettering or artwork to support wayfinding.

There are huge opportunities to make a real statement in the floor with patterns, designs, artwork and a mix of different products, whether through a specific image or design machine-cut off site, or simply the skill of the installer hand-cutting a curve or a feature between two colours.

Resilient floors have come a long way in recent times, and there’s a wide range of design and performance options. Sometimes, however, the choice can be overwhelming. Facilities managers need to consider certain factors before selecting floors for a particular environment:

  • The likelihood of water spills
  • The likelihood of contaminant spills
  • The types of traffic and its frequency (high footfall, heavy and wheeled equipment)
  • Anticipated noise levels and need for privacy and comfort underfoot
  • Aesthetics and how the floor can fit into the building design and create the right environment.

Once an assessment has been conducted, FMs can then prioritise which features are important in which areas. Using a floor system that has a variety of options makes it easier to create a unified look in a building. An acoustic floor in a room that requires quiet and privacy can seamlessly give way to a safety floor specifically designed to provide slip-resistance in bathrooms, or a smoother floor for a high-traffic corridor.

With the floor options out there, FMs can bring design to the forefront without compromising on performance.


Good carpet design will enhance the entranceway or rooms of any building, taking it to the next level. The way in which a carpet looks should never be an afterthought, as its design within the workplace can impact employees’ mood and efficiency.

Flooring can be used to help create different workspace areas within your office space. By varying colours and patterns across floors, it can help to designate certain areas and encourage employee performance. For instance, using different carpet tiles in breakout spaces can help employees to distinguish between areas ideal for working or relaxing. This enables companies to create a space allowing people to work, collaborate and relax under one roof.

Innovative carpet tiles promote flexibility and versatility and can be laid randomly. Capable of being placed anywhere, they can be used to experiment freely and create unique design concepts. Heavy-duty products should include the ability to reduce noise pollution.

While FMs need to prioritise cost-effectiveness and resilience, carpet design provides a good opportunity to inject personality into a workplace. From colourful carpet tiles and quirky patterns to unique customised designs, the flooring scheme, if done properly, can enhance the building’s aesthetic and reflect company culture.

Traditionally, darker shades have been the favourite in offices, but recent years have seen brighter colours such as reds and blues take centre stage. Whether you opt for full-coloured tiles or accents, adding a splash of colour can help bring spaces to life and ensure staple colours are represented.

One of the simplest ways to make an impression from the moment a visitor walks into your building is with bespoke logo matting. Not only do logo mats act as a first line of defence against dirt, dust and moisture, but they can brighten up and add creative flair to your office’s main entrance and reception area. You can use a bespoke logo mat to display your company name, logo or mission statement. Non-woven mats and those made from natural fibres are popular choices. The latest solutions can be cut into any shape or design and have a sharp resolution, which means they can display striking logos and concepts.

For those looking to create a clean, contemporary aesthetic, heat fusion is the way forward. This is a revolutionary way of branding flooring products with a company logo, and works a little like a branding iron, creating a sleek and sophisticated look.

About Sarah OBeirne

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