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Creating a home-from-home for students

Laura Light highlights the trends flooring contractors can expect customers to request this year and explains why home comforts are being introduced into education spaces.

THE relationship between design, wellbeing and productivity is well established. So, it’s unsurprising that, after two years of upheaval and uncertainty, the expectations of commercial design and its impact on building users is changing dramatically – and education settings are no exception.

Previously, design within learning environments focussed primarily on function over comfort.

However, as students return to the classroom, many are now looking for the same home comforts they have become accustomed to while studying remotely. To reflect this, the design of education spaces are increasingly prioritising the end user, seeking to ease anxieties and provide comfort through colour, warmth, and texture.

Dubbed the ‘resimercial’ trend, many designers are now combining residential and commercial styles, introducing the feeling of homeliness to education spaces, while delivering on the durability and functional demands associated with such settings.

So, how is this being achieved?
Texture, tone, and the influence of nature
The use of soft, neutral colours with bold accent shades can provide a sense of warmth to learning and living spaces. For example, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) products are being specified in light greys and sand tones to complement textured deep green and blue carpets and rug inserts. This is particularly common within breakout and living areas. This type of design is also becoming much easier to install, with manufacturers like Interface offering integrated systems of carpet and LVT to allow for seamless installation without the need for transition strips.

Imitating nature through the use of earthy colours and textures is known as biophilic design and is proven to help students and staff feel grounded and more connected to the world, which can reduce stress, improve productivity, and inspire creativity.

Alongside neutrals, blues and greens, contractors can expect to see the increased use of blush tones within education spaces, as well as soft textured high pile carpets. The bold, bright tones that are typically used in education facilities are still common, but as accent shades to create interest within the design and to reflect the institution’s branding, rather than as a full floor fill as seen in the past.

Supporting individuality
While resimercial and biophilic trends are becoming more common in social spaces on campus, there’s also a focus on more simple design for private accommodation and halls of residence.
Often, only one or two products with a muted colour palette are used to provide a neutral backdrop for students to personalise their space with accessories to make their accommodation feel like home.

A durable, high quality and low maintenance flooring solution, such as LVT, is suitable for these types of spaces – especially those with acoustic backing to help reduce impact sound between floors within high rise accommodation blocks.

Brighter tones like turquoise blue and warm terracotta are also being used to give living spaces a lift, particularly in corridors where it’s useful to differentiate buildings with a repeated layout on each floor in order to help students identify different areas.

Designing for the future
Despite the expectation for education facilities to consider emerging trends such as resimercial design, it remains essential for establishments to prioritise sustainability, and increasingly they’re being asked to report achievements against strict objectives.

One way of delivering on these ambitions is through specifying carbon neutral and carbon negative flooring solutions that feature high percentages of recycled and biobased content and are easier to recycle.

Additionally, many LVT and carpet tile collections are suitable for glue-free installation, which reduces the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being produced. This helps improves indoor air quality and contributes to the wellbeing of students and staff.

Customers can also go a step further by using responsible end-of-life options. If flooring needs to be removed before new products can be installed, contractors should look at the options available for reuse, repurposing, and recycling, and recommend how the new flooring can be responsibly disposed of when it’s replaced in future. Many take-back schemes also provide certificates to those who provide used flooring, which helps contractors to boost their own sustainability credentials.

Staying one step ahead
The latest flooring trends and customer expectations are constantly evolving, so it’s essential that flooring contractors keep up to date.

Whether that’s preparing to meet the latest trends in resimercial and biophilic design, or being ready to advise on sustainability credentials and installation requirements, having this knowledge means contractors will not only know what to expect when it comes to fitting new products, but will also ensure they can provide the best possible service for customers.

In short, be aware of the latest developments in flooring design and you’ll always remain one step ahead of competitors.
Laura Light is concept designer at Interface

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