Custom creations for comfortable and aesthetically pleasing interiors

Jason Holmes explains how Forbo Flooring Systems creates onboard floor coverings

Custom creations for comfortable and aesthetically pleasing interiors
A multicoloured octopus provides a design feature in a floor covering Forbo Flooring Systems designed for a children’s play area

By Rebecca Gibson |

Innovative interior design schemes are one of the biggest selling points for passenger ship operators who are fiercely competing against one another to ensure their vessels offer the best guest experiences. Floor coverings are a crucial element of comfortable and aesthetically pleasing interiors in any onboard space. There are several practical factors that must be considered when finding the right floor covering, such as the type of vessel, the size and shape of the space and the availability of natural light.

“Cruise ships often have restaurants, spas, accommodation and other public spaces with luxurious interior design schemes similar to those found in onshore hospitality venues, so floor coverings must fit this same aesthetic,” says Jason Holmes, head of design for the textile division at Forbo Flooring Systems. “Meanwhile, ferry operators tend to want functional interior designs that can withstand thousands of passengers frequently moving around their vessels, as well as floor coverings with an emphasis on wayfinding and zoning. Hence, floor coverings often have patterns to subtly direct passengers a certain way, or contrasting colours and textures to demarcate different zones.”

Factors such as the main purpose of the area and the expected volume of passenger traffic also have a significant influence on design choices.

“Passenger ships host thousands of people every year, so floor coverings need to be robust and durable to ensure that they can withstand frequent use, while still maintaining their aesthetic appearance for many years,” explains Holmes. “Some onboard areas will be more prone to dirt, moisture or spillages, such as entrances or dining venues. Hence, floor coverings in these spaces must be simple to clean and maintain. Alternatively, they should feature a texture, pattern or colour that would easily hide any soiling if crew members are unable to clean it immediately.”

When it comes to the aesthetic appearance of the floor coverings, Forbo Flooring Systems’ team is primarily guided by clients’ design briefs, which outline preferred colour schemes and the ambience they want to evoke in the space.

“We want our floor coverings to be aesthetically appealing in their own right and to complement the overall interior design scheme,” says Holmes. “We achieve this by linking the patterns and colours to other decorative elements of the space. For instance, when we designed a floor covering for a Moroccan restaurant onboard a cruise ship, we sought inspiration from the traditional colours and repeating patterns found in Moroccan mosaics, souks and spice markets.”

To create innovative designs that meet clients’ specific requirements, Forbo Flooring Systems relies on its Flotex FR floor covering collection, which has been approved for marine use by both the International Maritime Organization and Lloyd’s Register. The unique, textile flocked floor covering has a smooth velour-like surface that looks and feels like a carpet but has the durability and cleaning properties of resilient flooring. It is warm and comfortable underfoot, absorbs sound and meets the wet and dry slip resistance classifications for use on flat surfaces and ramps. Consequently, it can be installed in multifunctional areas, restaurants, bars, corridors, children’s play areas, theatres, cinemas and cabins.

According to Holmes, the biggest benefit of Flotex FR is that it can be easily customised with different patterns and colours using Forbo Flooring Systems’ rotary and digital printing technology. “Flotex FR is the perfect high-density textile substrate for printing complex designs and vibrant colourways in a high-definition photographic resolution,” he says. “We have a library of more than 500 Flotex Vision FR references, and we can adapt, recolour or rescale them to suit any interiors.”

True design flexibility lies in Forbo Flooring Systems’ digital printing technology. “Digital printing allows us to easily produce custom new floor coverings with feature pieces, logos and bespoke design that fulfil our clients’ specific project requirements,” explains Holmes. “For example, when I was asked to develop a fun and eye-catching floor covering inspired by marine wildlife and mythical creatures for a children’s play area, I used Flotex FR to develop a feature design with elements that could be repeated in borders and other areas of the room. The multi-pattern, multicoloured, friendly octopus met the brief nicely.  

“Thanks to this incredible versatility, designers worldwide consider Flotex FR as the ideal blank canvas for demonstrating their creativity – the flooring possibilities are almost limitless.”

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.   

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