Formations by Tarkett
The first vinyl plank flooring was introduced to the market in the 1970s – made from melting plastic pellets, the cheap and durable material can be used for 40 years and even be resurfaced. It has some top-notch advantages, but vinyl’s biggest problem is perceptions – it is not sexy, and is usually associated with sick people and hospitals.
And yet one of the hottest standouts at this year’s Milan Design Week was Tarkett, a French manufacturing company with a huge collection of vinyl floor coverings. They turned up in the city-of-design with an installation made in collaboration with Note Design Studio and with furnishing by Magis, the intention to proudly hold its own alongside some of the world’s top brands.
It was a big risk, which paid off.
Tarkett has been collaborating for a few years now with Stockholm-based Note to show how vinyl as a material can do much more then just cover floors. Together they won best booth at the 2018 Stockholm Furniture Fair for The Lookout, and at the 2019 fair they moved their presentation off campus for the first time with Snowtopped, an exhibition in the glass pavilions on the roof of five-star hotel At Six. That was a beautiful series of free-form curves that showed the flexibility of vinyl in a Nordic winter landscape.
In Milan the collaboration took it up a notch with Formations, an impressive installation of gigantic and geometric totem poles presented inside the historic Circolo Filologico Milanese. The poles were covered in Tarkett’s new iQ Surface, a material that can not only be continuously recycled, but also bent and moulded to angular and curved forms. A second installation in the former library was filled with more intricate and detailed 3D shapes and colour possibilities.
iQ Surface is produced at Tarkett's factory in Ronneby, Sweden. Research and development is ongoing, but already the coverings can be made from 25% recycled materials. The aim is to deliver a closed-loop system that minimises use of virgin materials and produces no waste.
The company is also trialling a programme to reclaim old Tarkett flooring and even other manufacturers’ vinyl for recycling. Vinyl is a polymer that maintains its original properties for several cycles.
‘We were interested in taking on the challenge of vinyl,’ says Note Design Studio founder Johannes Carlströms. ‘It is a low-end material used mostly in hospitals and schools so we wanted to try to develop a different aesthetic quality. We discovered its low cost, high-function characteristics make for so many unexpected options.’
iQ Surface is a range that breaks all stereotypes. It turns vinyl into a material that can mix and eclipse top-level expectations of function, form and expression for any number of design applications including flooring, walls and even furnishing.