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It’s All About Texture: A Q&A with Principal Designer, Sara Babinski

February 1, 2013 2:10 pm    Posted by Heather Antolik    off

Designers have known it for years, but the texture trend is catching fire with homeowners and we have a feeling it’s here to stay. I sat down with principal flooring designer, Sara Babinski, to find out what makes texture just as important as any other decorating element and how it can really define a space.

HA: Talk to me a little about texture as a design element. x-grain khaki armstrong
I’m seeing it everywhere!

SB: The first thing you have to know about texture is how we create it. We can “do” texture in the print (2D) or on the surface (3D using an embossing technique). We’re seeing a big push towards realism. It’s important to people for things to look as real, and natural as possible. That means a few more knots in a hardwood, or an X-grain (milled look) applied to a laminate, those are the “real” elements that homeowners are wanting.

HA: I know many homeowners are going for original, one-of-a-kind looks that don’t feel forced.

SB: “Authenticity” is a buzzword we’re noticing, not just in this industry but in everything. From synthetic fabrics to unrealistic hardwoods, we don’t like “fake.”

HA: How is Armstrong working towards authenticity with its products?
alterna mesa stone armstrong
We are taking cues from raw materials. Raw wood, rough stone. We are using new technologies to create these incredibly genuine looks. For example, take our Coastal Living Patina laminate line. We were inspired by natural patina, driftwood, and weathered shake shingles. For our newest hardwood collection, American Scrape, we went with the motto “knotty but nice.” All the floor boards are individually sculpted, and in the manufacturing process, we leave in the natural knots and grain for an unrefined appearance.

HA: Tell me more about American Scrape.

SB: About seven years ago, we started seeing lots of hand-scraping on the west coast. They like a softer scrape, smoother lines, and a higher gloss. The idea for American Scrape was derived from the Southwest region where they liked the hand-scraped look, but wanted a more “chewed up” appearance. We took our inspiration directly from the U.S. landscape. Old barns, amber fields, western mountains, Cajun spice. The line evolved from there. american scrape autumn blaze armstrongA huge bonus is that all of the floors in the American Scrape collection are manufactured here in the United States.

HA: Very nice! I’ve never seen a hand-scrape like it.

SB: Thank you very much! We had a lot of fun working on them.

HA: You can definitely tell. OK, last question. What are some of your favorite textures?

SB: NATURE! Anything found in nature is my favorite texture. Clam shells, feathers, different species of hardwood… I’m inspired by them all.

Heather Antolik is a Web Marketing Specialist for Armstrong and has been with the company since January 2012. She helps her team with social media, copywriting, emails and web analytics. Heather is a die-hard Pittsburgh fan. She is also a proud graduate of Penn State and can be found in Happy Valley on Saturdays rooting on her team. Hail to the Lion!

Sara Babinski has worked with practically every type of flooring, and is currently the lead designer for our hardwood and laminate flooring products. She received a BFA in Illustration and Design from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Sara likes to blog about how nature influences design and new hardwood and laminate products. Born and raised in the beach community of Sagaponack, New York, she looks for inspiration in the textures and colors found in nature.