In 2012, the most definitive trend in the world of floor coverings is the strengthening role that flooring plays in interior design as a whole. Today, interior designers and architects devote much more attention to floor coverings than they did, say, 5-7 years ago. It is now all about coordinating the look of flooring, walls, doors and furniture so that all the elements of interior décor perfectly complement one another. Vladimir Ianovski, founder and CEO of Coswick Hardwood, manufacturer of designer hardwood flooring, opened up about 2012 flooring trends and technologies, as well as the challenges and advantages of being a small manufacturer of high end flooring on a global market.
Mr. Ianovski, what are some of the newest trends in flooring?
Mr. Ianovski: There is an obvious trend for going natural when it comes to wood floors, which is just as about selecting environmentally conscious manufacturers, as it is about the overall appearance of flooring. In 2012, it’s all about getting as close to nature as possible. Clean and polished look is gradually going out of style, while assortment of knots and curls that emphasize the natural character and texture of real wood are largely preferred by both homeowners and interior designers.
In terms of flooring technologies, there is a growing demand for engineered flooring. This is not surprising, as in performance, eco-friendliness and reliability, some engineered floors are now clearly ahead of solid floors. Also, engineered technology allows to produce flooring in wider planks, something that’s becoming very popular.
It used to be that flooring was just that, flooring. Today, it is also an indispensable part of interior design. As we know, fashion and design are always changing. How do you decide on the colors and styles for your products?
Mr. Ianovski: Our marketing department is responsible for researching the latest trends, analyzing them, and forecasting the styles and colors that are likely to be successful among consumers and designers. Together with the sales team, we analyze the market trends and review wishes and requests put forth by our customers, dealers and partners. We pay close attention to the media and always to try to count in as many factors as we possibly can. In the full sense of the word, development of new products and designs is team work. We try not only to follow the existing trends, but also do our best to get ahead and set our own.
It’s often said that people are afraid of change, and I would think this is especially relevant when it comes to changing and introducing new products in a highly competitive market environment. You frequently present new products to your dealers. How do they react? Do some feel that there just isn’t enough time to fully understand a product before a new one arrives?
Mr. Ianovski: We definitely take the time to allow our partners to learn about our new products. Every year, we present 1 or 2 entirely new collections. The rest of the year, we update and modernize our existing collections by adding new colors and styles. To date, we have 11 unique collections that are on the market in North America and Europe, and none of them are out of production. They are all in demand. As I said, we carefully study the market and make forecasts before introducing new products. This year, it’s our line of matte lacquer Signature Oak – collection of engineered flooring. Already, we estimate that it will become the season’s leader. The color tones of this collection are light, subtle and earthly, and although the collection was launched only very recently, we are already seeing much interest from homeowners and interior designers.
You frequently update your flooring collections with new products. Does this complicate the work of the factory?
Mr. Ianovski: This is just how we work. We are definitely not a huge industrial plant where high-speed automated lines put out millions of square meters of low-cost mass produced flooring with a limited variety. We use state-of-the art equipment, and our lines can manufacture even the smallest custom made batches of flooring, allowing for nearly unlimited creativity and range of style. This is one of the points of advantage that we have over some bigger hardwood flooring manufacturers.
Who are your main competitors? Globally, it is probably Swedish and German flooring manufacturers?
Mr. Ianovski: Yes. We compete with them on North American, Western and Eastern European markets. But we do have several important advantages. Compared with certain American, Swedish and German industry giants, we are a relatively small manufacturer. But because of this, we are able to pay a lot of attention to all the technological aspects of production, and, as a result, we can afford to manufacture flooring products of exceptional quality. Even an inexperienced buyer who picks up our product will immediately note the precise milling and quality of finish and materials.
Our second advantage is that we offer 100% environmentally friendly products manufactured from real wood. We are strongly committed to staying as natural as possible. Our products are free of formaldehyde or phenols. We declare zero VOC emissions class.
Finally, since we do not mass produce, we are able to manufacture a wide range of styles. To date, we have over 70 distinct flooring styles, colors and surface finishes, which makes it easy to find a suitable floor for just about any interior.
When you say that you are a relatively small company, what exactly do you mean? How small is small?
Mr. Ianovski: I mean that Coswick will produce 600,000 square meters (6,458,346 sq. ft) of flooring by the end of the year. This is the production capacity right now. Is it really that small? On the one hand, it is many times less than what is annually produced by European flooring industry giants, but on the other – it still allows us to successfully present our products globally.
Most hardwood flooring manufacturers have their own “signature” product. Does Coswick have one?
Mr. Ianovski: Definitely. Our engineers and technicians are always working on finding innovative solutions to existing problems. Our crown jewel to date is our 3-layer engineered CosLoc 5G technology. In short, it is an engineered flooring technology that has structural and dimensional stability that far exceeds that of traditional solid hardwood as well as most wood flooring products on the market today. In fact, we are so confident about this product, that we now offer full lifetime structural integrity warranty on our engineered flooring.
What are your thoughts on the immediate future of the hardwood flooring industry? Do you think that global crisis will make it increasingly more difficult to compete with larger manufacturers?
Mr. Ianovski: In times of economic crisis, consumers start making more conscious, careful decisions. Products are meticulously researched for quality and uniqueness of style. Coswick produces high quality, innovative, designer flooring. Because of this, we feel confident about the future.
Coswick flooring is available in over 70 colors, surface styles and finishes. Coswick is one of few flooring manufacturers to offer full lifetime structural warranty on its engineered flooring products. Samples of all Coswick hardwood flooring can be ordered online free of charge.