Behind the scenes of iQ Surface new vinyl collection at Milan Design Week

Behind the scenes of iQ Surface new vinyl collection at Milan Design Week

Durable, adaptable and inspirational, Tarkett Homogeneous Vinyl flooring is a true design material. Place it in a designer’s hands and something magic happens; a realisation of unlimited creative potential. This is the tale of iQ Surface, a Tarkett collection that champions the creator and ‘Formations’, a dynamic Milan Design Week installation that shifts perceptions.

Milan Design Week, a must-see exhibition to trigger conversations

For many visitors to Milan’s Design Week the trip is about dialogues. Conversations between peers, colleagues or theoretical narratives developing between concepts and their audiences.

A starting point for new things, where ideas act as a signpost to guide and influence work to come. This is the reason for launching iQ Surface in Milan. The city will be the backdrop for a new collection that ignites discussion. In the case of iQ Surface we selected Centro Filologico Milanese as our venue. A location steeped in tradition; one of the oldest centres for the research and study of language. No better context to examine the unique forms of visual communication iQ Surface presents.

This year, at Milan Design Week 2019 we unveil Tarkett iQ Surface, a design collaboration with Swedish design studio Note. The collection, comprised of five themes, looks at Tarkett vinyl flooring from a fresh design perspective. Colour curation is the driver, using Note’s signature finesse with tone and hue to give each theme a distinctive colour family and surface technique. Combined with the ways in which the welding rods (which join adjacent pieces of vinyl together) have become more of an artistic medium, this new collection enables a new field of use for homogeneous vinyl surfaces in design and architecture.

The origins of a collection

iQ Surface is the result of a collaborative journey between Tarkett and Stockholm-based design studio Note that started out with the creation of a booth for Stockholm Furniture Fair 2018 revealing the scope of Tarkett’s vinyl flooring for a new generation of design applications. A range with equal weighting to function, form and expression of colour.

Tarkett iQ Surface is the creative destination of a 50-year journey by a material loved and used by millions. An honest material that openly combines technology and design for all to see.

For a designer, the potential of Tarkett homogeneous vinyl as a creative tool is clear as soon as you place a sample in their hands. And there are many who share this view; the architects who specify Tarkett Homogeneous Vinyl in their projects, the individuals who create Tarkett’s flooring in factory in Ronneby and the countless individuals who install it on floors and surfaces across the world.

As a material it’s an unsung industrial hero. Technically advanced, flexible, sustainable and incredibly easy to clean & maintain —100% fit for purpose. And alongside these attributes, lie the aesthetic qualities that open up endless possibilities for a designer or interior architect. The beauty of Tarkett homogeneous vinyl is that you really can have performance and beauty.

A collection that closes the loop of Circular Economy

Tarkett is a multinational company with a corporate, social and environmental mind-set that stretches from the top-line business goals right down to the production plant, and even through into the individuals who install its products.

In short, Tarkett looks to tie its products, ways of working and behaving to an inclusive, collaborative principle it refers to as:

We are committed to serving our customers through our innovation capabilities and longstanding sustainability dedication and achievements. We are deeply convinced that there is an urgency to shift models to preserve the world's finite natural resources and capital. We invite our stakeholders to join our efforts to develop a circular economy. All together.

- Fabrice Barthélemy, Chief Executive Officer of Tarkett

Each product Tarkett makes has its ‘material health’ assessed regularly in accordance with Cradle to Cradle® principles. During this iterative process, the material composition of a product is continually optimised towards the goal of producing circular materials.

By promoting sustainable thinking and working outwards, Tarkett has developed a ‘take back’ programme where contractors who install its floors can save installation offcuts and trimmings, which are then collected to be recycled.

“Tarkett also now recycle its post use homogeneous floors (from 2011 onwards) to place it back into the cycle – a huge step forward for the industry as a whole, bringing us towards a truly closed loop product life cycle.” Even after decades of use, Tarkett will be able to fully recycle iQ Surface back into the production process, to make a new high quality homogeneous vinyl product.

iQ Surface, decorative and functional

There are many who recognise iQ homogeneous vinyl floors as a decorative material and many who know it as a functional material. This could be seen as one of the fundamental elements of the iQ Surface collaboration. Now, everybody who uses and experiences this collection will get to see both sides. It raises the collective qualities of the material.

It’s important to always acknowledge that it’s one thing to have a beautiful floor, but in reality that floor must be able to function. A hospital hallway can never be fully closed off. Likewise, a school or old people’s home must always be accessible.

“For us this notion of where iQ Surface ends up contributed lots to the final colour collections. It’s used in so many applications where colour in the flooring and on the walls can genuinely contribute to the wellbeing of those who experience it. In education and healthcare, a specifier or interior architect can now express a feeling and project a positive emotion in the environment. That’s a really beautiful opportunity,” says Charlotte Ackemar.

“From a technical perspective iQ Surface belongs to a very special family of Tarkett products. It offers exceptional ease of maintenance, is sustainably sound, and gives a consistent aesthetic no matter how much wear it gets,” says Per Sternegård, iQ product manager, Tarkett.

“Technically nothing has altered. The process and manufacture of Tarkett’s product is great. We worked closely with the technicians though to explore how far we could take our creative ideas without losing the design integrity of the material,” says Note’s Charlotte Ackemar.

A whole new perspective for Design

Not long ago, during a chance meeting of minds, Note design studio took delivery of a 4cm x 4cm piece of Tarkett vinyl flooring. One piece of a decades old puzzle, a missing link perhaps between one of the most durable industrial materials in the world, and the individuals who design with it.

The resulting discussion about its technical and aesthetic attributes led to iQ Surface. Each colour group has a foundation of neutrals and base notes, making it perfect for interior architecture. Each colourway in a group can be combined effortlessly with others in the same family. At only 2mm thick, it can be sculpted across undulating features. iQ Surface isn’t just for floors, treat it as a versatile decorative design solution.

One of the main challenges of this collaboration was to get people away from just looking down. Tarkett has never just been a flooring material—look up, look around, challenge the material and let it challenge you.

- Florian Bougault, EMEA art director, Tarkett

Five beautiful colour stories in which hue, tone and material are pitched squarely towards design and architecture. And the ‘Formations’ installation in Milan, which is where everything comes together for the first time.

Treading a new path, iQ Surface is a new way to think and design. Follow the link below to receive exclusive information on iQ Surface when it is first released at Milan Design Week: