Flooring, the general term used to refer to the material covering the bare floor plate, is one of the largest elements to consider when designing a space. Since the floor is underfoot and takes up so much real estate in any space, it has a significant impact on the aesthetic of your office.
“It is important to realise that although our first interaction with a space is a visual one, the first physical contact a person will have with the space will be the flooring. The finish that is underfoot will immediately have an impact on our psyche even if it is subconscious.”
Flooring impacts not only the user perception, it impacts your project budget, the productivity of your employees, and the maintenance ease of the office space. Functionality, budget and style need to be primarily factored in while selecting a type of flooring. While your first visual impact of the office space might be generic, your first physical contact will be the flooring of the space. Flooring is one of the most important elements in any building and influences so many factors that will ultimately have an impact on whether the space was a success or not.
Figures 1 & 2: Flooring in office Spaces
Most office spaces use a combination of various flooring types depending on the area they are utilized for. Materials such as wooden floorings, carpets and epoxy flooring are commonly used, their sub-type, style and colour being dependent on the theme and budget of the office.
Why focus on ‘Flooring’?
A “Large” Element
“When someone walks into a room, the floor can affect their impression of a space subconsciously. Since the floor is underfoot and takes up so much real estate in any space, it has a significant impact…” The flooring of any space is one of the largest elements within a space visually as well as cost wise. It is an element which is visually difficult to ignore, is always in view and one of the first elements that the user comes in contact with physically. Cost wise, on a minimum, it constitutes for about 10% of the total project cost, making it an important decision to select the correct flooring.
It “sets the tone” of the space
“It’s an important design element to pay attention to because it will set the tone for everything.” Consider the flooring to be the base of the project. It ties the space together to create coherence in the design. Regardless of the design or style chosen, choosing a complimentary flooring is a must to create a harmony among all the elements within the space.
When someone walks into a room, the floor can affect their impression of a space subconsciously. The type of flooring, its style and even its colour, have an impact on the users of that space. For example, a neutral toned tiled carpet is perceived as a very formal office material while a brightly coloured roll carpet is perceived as more casual and fun. Different materials also leave an impression of the company as a whole on visitors as well. Marble and terrazzo flooring is looked at as expensive, rich and luxurious, while epoxy or IPS finished flooring might not be looked at in the same way.
Dependency on Usage
Probably one of the most important factors to consider while selecting a flooring in a commercial setup is the impact it will have on the users of that particular space. A turf flooring exudes comfort, making it ideal for break-out areas, brainstorming rooms and terrace spaces. A carpet is ideal for boardrooms for its formal look and sound absorbing properties. Wooden flooring provides a neutral and composed look, ideal for open areas. Tiles are the perfect solution for pantries, cafeterias and store rooms, providing the employees with a subconscious sense of comfort since it is easy to maintain.
Commonly Used Flooring Materials
The current commercial design market uses several flooring materials frequently-
Divided in two broad subcategories, tiled and roll carpets, it is perhaps the most commonly used flooring, primarily due to its formal look. Their sound absorbing properties, neutral tones and ability to be changed without any sort of major construction work, makes it an attractive option for companies.
Advantages- Cost friendly, provides a formal look and can be replaced relatively easily, especially tiled carpets and is sound absorbent.
Disadvantages- Stains easily when not in dark shades and customized carpets can become quite expensive.
Figures 3 & 4: Carpet Flooring & Wooden Flooring
Primarily laminated wooden flooring, is available widely and is relatively inexpensive. Wooden flooring can give a composed and sophisticated look to a space and goes well with the current trend of design themes such as contemporary and industrial.
Advantages- Has a very polished, composed and neutral look and looks very trendy. Colour/shade range and textures are now widely available. It is also relatively very easy to clean.
Disadvantages- Extremely susceptible to water damage, not easily replaceable and tends to make a hollow knocking sound when it comes in contact with certain impact (commonly heeled shoes)
The most basic of flooring materials in any field of design, not just commercial, makes this option extremely widely available in terms of cost range, colours, patterns, textures and sizes. It is also one of the most maintenance friendly materials and thus commonly used is high traffic areas or areas where more durability is required.
Advantages- Large selection of types and cost range, and very easy to maintain.
Disadvantage- Extremely difficult to replace.
Figure 5:Tiled Flooring
Types of Flooring based on Functionality
Laminated Wooden Flooring
“Laminate tile flooring can provide an authentic look of hardwood or even stone flooring, but at an affordable price. This type of floor does not require regular care and cleaning.”
This flooring can be used in open areas, showrooms, break rooms, reception and waiting areas.
“Vitrified tiles are extremely durable and weather heavy daily use. These tiles are both discoloration and scratch resistant and thus will easily hold good for a span of 10-15 years, when used with proper maintenance.”
This type of flooring is ideal for high traffic areas which require regular maintenance such as washrooms, pantries and cafeteria, store rooms, any type of outdoor areas or terrace spaces.
“Terrazzo is a LEED-friendly seamless flooring system known for its durability and design versatility.Easy to clean and maintain. If installed and maintained properly, terrazzo can last for decades to come.”
A relatively expensive material and not very common is standard offices, terrazzo is highly durable and can be used in reception & waiting areas, higher management level cabins, and any type of client space such as showrooms.
Bright Coloured Carpets
“For start-ups and any other creative office, the decor calls for a theme that follows the same value.A perfect opportunity to incorporate colour, carpet tiles for such an office can be vibrant and quirky.” Ideal for break-out or gaming areas or even brainstorming rooms.
Wood Finish Tiles
“Whether you are looking to create a classy or minimalist décor, wood tiles would never disappoint you..they are resistant to scratches and stains and this makes them easy to clean and maintain.manufactured with a prime focus on functionality and longevity.” This can be used as a replacement of wooden flooring but it would be best suited for outdoor areas or terrace areas.
“it’s very easy and cost-effective to install fake grass in an office, as in the majority of cases there is little ground preparation involved.It Creates a More Relaxing, Productive Work Environment” Faux turf is a relatively uncommon material for indoor spaces but might be well received in open breakout spaces, break rooms, brainstorming areas apart from its more traditional outdoor terrace area.
“Creates a shiny high-gloss surface that can significantly increase the brightness of interior areas, is durable, and can withstand continuous traffic, quick and easy to install, easy to clean” Epoxy is material which goes very well with themes such as urban contemporary, industrial and experimental. It can be used as open spaces and passage areas.
“The glowing appearance of the polished vitrified tiles makes them ideal for conference rooms and office lounges, adding an elegant element. These tiles also reflect natural light into the room, making your office space seem larger and more sophisticated.” Tiles are, by far, the most commonly used flooring material in any design field due to its large availability in terms of cost, size and design and its maintenance friendly feature.
Laminated Wooden Flooring
“...is perfect for anyone wanting a durable floor for a fraction of the price and installation time of a hardwood floor, but with the attractiveness of real hardwood. Laminate wood floors are easy to maintain as it doesn’t require any waxes, polishes, detergents or abrasive cleaner.” This material goes wonderfully in a modern, contemporary theme and can be used in open areas, cabins, and breakout spaces.
“With brilliant design selections, great acoustic qualities and an abundance of other advantages that check all the right boxes, carpets for offices are always a solid choice for commercial flooring.” Carpets are perhaps the most commonly used flooring material in office spaces. It is ideal for open areas, cabins and especially meeting rooms.
“Both of these materials are known for their exceptional beauty and extraordinary sense of luxury, but there is a distinct difference in the look of granite vs. the look of marble. marble is more porous and softer than granite, keep it to your rarely used, formal areas, while durable, functional granite can be used nearly anywhere.” Marble can become quite expensive but exudes luxury. It should be used strictly in client centric spaces such as reception & waiting areas or high level management cabins.
Basis cost, we can broadly categorize general flooring materials into 3 levels; 1 being the most basic.
Level 1Level 2Level 3Vitrified Tile 1x1Ceramic Tiles 1x1Carpet (Customized)Vitrified Tiles 1x2Ceramic Tiles 1x2Engineered Wooden FlooringVitrified Tiles 2x2Ceramic Tiles 2x2Hardwood FlooringVinyl Composite TileCeramic Tiles 2x4MarbleFaux Turf (Roll)Vitrified Tiles 2x4 Carpet (Roll)Faux Turf (Tiled) Carpet (Tiled Laminated Wooden Flooring
Figure 6: Cost Comparison
Yelp is an American company which develops, hosts, and markets the Yelp.com website and the Yelp mobile app, which publish crowd-sourced reviews about businesses. Its headquarters is based in San Francisco and was designed by Primo Orpilla of Studio O+A, in a collaboration with Interface, a flooring solutions company whose mission encapsules their “...modular system helps customers create beautiful interior spaces which positively impact the people who use them and our planet.”
Developed with Yelp’s Senior Director of Real Estate & Facilities, John Lieu, Yelp wanted to reflect the vibe of local businesses and needed a range of spaces. This was the very first headquarter and was the perfect opportunity to allow their brand and culture to be put on display.
Collaborative areas as well as quiet ones in various sizes were considered. And like many newer companies, Yelp was drawn to the clean look of concrete floors, which typically aren’t acoustically practical for a big company with communal work areas. A solution was needed. As a trusted partner, Interface was able to step up and provide exactly what the project needed: a flooring choice with minimal impact that provided the foundation for Yelp’s culture to thrive, as well as ensure--that their “Yelpiness “ was the overarching impression. With a subtle palette and texture selection for minimal visual impact, these super-low profile and structurally sound carpet tiles played a critical role in telling the Yelp office story. Because when you think about it, for them, this particular Interface product functions as the office version of the sidewalks and streets that link businesses.
Figures 7-10: Yelp Office, San Francisco
According to Primo, Interface has been an integral part of many of his projects because, “they’re not here to sell a product. They’re here to solve a problem and they do it without compromising design aesthetics. Then everybody wins because the project goals aren’t just met. They exceed expectation.”
The first coworking centre by Brickyard, a coworking and shared spaces company based in Virginia, USA, was charged with not only creating a warm and inviting atmosphere but also the visual based of the company henceforth. The design team was asked “to make their vision for a sleek, open and inviting office space a reality.”
Figures 11 & 12: Brickyard Cowork, Ashburn
Partnering with Parterre, an American flooring company which primarily creates luxury vinyl tiles mirroring marble, wood, stone and several other finishes, they attempted to check several boxes. The owners wanted a product that would-
Neutral and could work with many different color palettes
A wood-look product that would stand the test of time and heavy foot traffic
A rustic, more weathered looking finish
Something that evoked a “home away from home,” resimercial feeling
“We spec Parterre frequently and love it for its durability and authentic wood-look. And, Parterre has a good selection of colors and installs really well and easily on many different slabs and underfloor.” - Anne Regan, Lead Designer.
Workamp Estate is one of our coworking centres based in Andheri. The space has a central open desk system with cabins and meeting rooms at the periphery and a terrace pantry and cafeteria. The space is designed keeping in mind a wide range of clients and visitors who would enter and use the space. As a coworking space, the foot traffic is high resulting in regular maintenance being required.
Figures 13-16: WorkAmp Estate, Mumbai
The carpet in the cabins, meeting rooms and open area looks elegant and also allows for sound absorption. The passage spaces are covered in laminated wooden flooring which marks clear open circulation spaces and are easy to maintain. The terrace area uses wooden finish ceramic tiles which have a natural look while being durable and maintenance friendly.
Zilingo is a tech and ecommerce platform in the fashion industry, based in Singapore but having offices in India and Indonesia, among others. The company, which launched in 2015, built their Mumbai headquarter in August 2019. The office space reflects Zilingo’s work culture of being young, modern and fun. The space was designed keeping in mind not only the brand, but also its Singapore offices and its aim of attracting fresh talent.
Figure 17: Zilingo, Mumbai
The types of flooring used in this project are experimental with an underlying modern contemporary theme. The space primarily uses laminated wooden flooring in an open floor plan, making the space look warm and inviting in a clean, minimalistic manner. While the meeting rooms have carpet installations to achieve sound absorption, the carpeted open games area is designed to be perceived as a different space without creating any vertical divisions. The epoxy flooring demarcates the shared discussion/video-conferencing booths. The terrace is mainly covered in faux turf, baring the open cafeteria and smoking areas, allowing the comfort of faux turf and the durability and ease of maintenance of tiles.
Figures 18-21: Zilingo, Mumbai
Many times, the flooring is not given the importance it deserves when one considers the definition of the interior design of a floor. Often, we think more about other elements that go on top of it, including what to put on the walls, but leave the flooring to be an afterthought.
Flooring is an element which is very much pushed to the background, however, it is an essential part of the design process on several levels. It is the base of your underlying design theme; it is one of the largest elements in the entire space; it is perhaps the one that will be primarily maintained; it is just a single element which constitutes a minimum 10% of the total project cost making it one of the most expensive; its varied properties of different materials can be used as an advantage to suit certain needs within the confines of smaller spaces; it has a subconscious visual impact on people and is the first element any user makes physical contact with.
The floor is the basis of any interior design proposal, be it commercial, residential or any other interior design field, and it definitely should not be an afterthought.