SURFACES: A Recap of the Largest Flooring Trade Show in the U.S.
In a recent interview, I talked with Mara Villanueva-Heras, V.P. of Marketing for Armstrong Residential Flooring, about SURFACES – the biggest trade show for the flooring industry in the U.S. – and the home décor trends that are getting her excited this year. Here’s what she had to say:
HA: Let’s start by describing what SURFACES is.
MVH: SURFACES serves as the industry’s meeting place to unveil new floor covering products, tools, and technologies. The show was a tremendous success for us this year. Our focus was to launch new products and highlight some unique merchandising and marketing concepts.
HA: What trends did you see at the show this year?
MVH: Earthy styles are chic. Designers are finding new ways to incorporate basic elements of nature everywhere in the home. Knots, mineral streaks, and weathered, time-worn looks always offered natural beauty – now they are celebrated! Longer and wider planks have been popular for some time, and their popularity is increasing. Texture is becoming the new driver. It’s all about stimulation of the senses in the home and in fashion. Rustic wood looks are everywhere.
HA: Those looks are very popular! What are some Armstrong floors that showcase this trend?
MVH: Armstrong continues to take the high road in product design, launching upscale American-made genuine scraped woods, as well as commodity-busting laminates.
Our new American Scrape is a richly textured floor that comes in domestic hickory and oak. Inspired by the "American landscape", these wide-plank solid wood and engineered wood floors invoke our nation’s heritage. A portion of sales also benefits Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans.
Another exciting product we’ll be premiering later this spring is our Architectural Remnants Laminate Collection. This one is just gorgeous! These groundbreaking designs are brought to life in such brilliant detail – they’re often mistaken for the real thing. The wide planks are inspired by driftwood with its deep grays and warm under tones. The design actually appears to have withstood years of exposure to unrelenting winds and harsh ocean elements.
Our goal is to give our customers affordable options and high-end visuals that are different and expensive to achieve in the original material. It’s about offering nearly-impossible-to-recreate flooring, and making it at an affordable price with even more performance and durability than the original.
HA: I can’t wait to see the new laminate products. They sound amazing!
MVH: I’m excited for homeowners to see them. I’m really impressed with them! Armstrong has always understood that the product has to both excite and inspire the consumer, yet also deliver on the more rational concerns around quality and value. We have the opportunity to help guide consumers in understanding that flooring plays a major role in the beauty and function of a space, and be a part of helping them transform their homes. A key way is through the style and design of the product itself, and this is where Armstrong shines – from incredible, innovative looks to stunning realism, and most important to customers, the confidence that it will stand up to everyday life.
HA: One last question: What do you like best about SURFACES?
MVH: Talking with customers. I’m not a sales person, so it’s great to be able to meet with our sales reps and find out what they’re seeing day-to-day. I also love meeting with the people who support our business and talking one-on-one about how we can support theirs. I get to hear first-hand their wants, needs, and concerns, and that is a powerful thing. And if we can keep them happy, then we can keep the homeowners happy too! Customers can walk away with flooring options that please them by adding beauty, comfort, and ease of maintenance to their daily lives.
Mara Villanueva-Heras, vice president of Marketing, Residential Flooring, is responsible for setting strategic direction and managing marketing activities including branding, advertising, public relations, interactive, market research and product marketing.
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 Steelers, Penguins and Pirates 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 Lions!