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Big brands boss the residential LVT market

Paul Barratt, MD at Karndean Designflooring, reflects on the history of luxury vinyl flooring as the company celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023.

The Karndean story
It all started in the summer of 1973 when entrepreneur Mike Walker began looking for a way to make it on his own. With only a few pounds in his pocket and half a tank of petrol in his Morris Oxford, Mike hit the road with a passion for vinyl flooring and a boot full of samples. He knew that a floor shouldn’t just be practical, it needed to be beautiful too.

So, travelling the world seeking inspiration for what we now consider the most realistic luxury vinyl flooring products on the market, Mike found a way to create more than just a floor; he created a flooring concept. With endless combinations of planks, tiles, borders and design strips, not to mention the ability to cut the product into pretty much any shape required, his idea meant people were no longer just getting a floor – they were getting a ‘designflooring’.

Initially based at his family home in the West Midlands, the business rapidly expanded into a global brand. Its current headquarters in Evesham, Worcestershire, features an impressive 1,800sq m showroom, 6,200sq m distribution centre, product development centre and a state-of-the-art training academy. Here we continue to design extraordinary award-winning flooring and inspire the flooring experts of the future.

The evolution of luxury vinyl flooring
Interior style trends are always changing but authentic design and product quality is always a winning combination. Our mission is to produce beautiful, durable and flexible flooring that not only meets, but exceeds, aesthetic and technical specifications.

We understand that design is an endless journey of possibilities, and, like our founder, we continue to search the world for natural materials which tell a meaningful story and inspire exceptional designs that will translate into liveable interiors.

Gluedown designs formed our very first collection and continue to offer outstanding flexibility to design individual floors in any setting. Whether you are looking for a timeless classic style such as oak parquet, recreating historic elegance with stone tiles or a geometric pattern or designing a unique hand-cut feature, with our extensive range of designs you can imagine truly original floors that not only intrigue and delight but will also stand the test of time.

The first manufacturer to introduce a loose lay format, our Karndean LooseLay and Karndean LooseLay Longboard collections now feature 46 wood and stone designs. With our K-Wave friction grip backing that holds the product in place, LooseLay is an easy-fit flooring that installs like a carpet tile. A practical solution for sectors where access to underfloor services is required or for temporary installations, it’s simple to lift and replace or reuse tiles.

The format of choice for installations over uneven subfloors, many of our rigid core designs feature a 5G click-locking mechanism and come with enhanced acoustic performance to reduce noise transfer to spaces below by 21dB. We now offer 55 wood and stone designs in a rigid core format, including a matching range of herringbone and chevron designs.

But the real attraction of Karndean flooring is its potential to create one-off designs using a combination of designs and hand-cut tiles. The flexibility of our flooring allows designers to embrace the challenge of bespoke design and push the limits of what’s possible.

Our latest collection, Opus Abstracts, was inspired by traditional trends from the Italian Renaissance and designed to offer complete creative freedom to make a statement with imaginative bold bespoke floors. Used in conjunction with other wood and stone designs from the Opus range with areas of pattern that join from different angles, these impactful designs can create a sense of movement and destination.

Anticipating an increasing desire for room-to-room designs, over recent years we have extended our multiformat and herringbone collections. Designers now have ample opportunities to take a single design over different subfloor conditions as well as endless options to create sophisticated bespoke floors with a combination of designs and laying patterns.

From hospitality and leisure to community living and co-working spaces, we are excited about the future of imaginative design and how we can support designers to innovate and use flooring to make the ultimate design statement.
A longer version of this article appeared in December’s History of Flooring supplement.

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