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From idea to installation, an Altro design story

21 April 2021


A short distance from the ‘school of building’, the home of the Bauhaus modernist art movement, you can find our German manufacturing site and offices. Given that Bauhaus students questioned the traditional and worked to the view that form and function are equally important, it would be difficult to create and develop products in the shadow of the Bauhaus without its influence at the heart of our work.

The beginning

In 2017 we introduced Altro Operetta, Altro Orchestra and Altro Serenade. These floors were created to be fit for purpose while looking good, meeting performance and technical needs, and design aspirations at the same time. The three floors offered different levels of impact sound reduction and comfort underfoot but shared a number of shades and designs. It meant a designer could achieve fluidity through a building, be it matching or co-ordinating the look, without compromising on the performance benefits that would create a better experience for the end user.

 

Today

Spring forward to 2021 and the ranges feature in installations across the globe. But we don’t rest on our laurels at Altro. We know that trends and needs change, and for a flooring range to stay fit for purpose, it needs to change too – particularly a range that’s designed for hospitals, care homes, hospitality, education, offices and social housing, all areas where user wellbeing is key.

The research

When developing a range, it’s a natural step for us to involve our partners and customers – it’s something we’ve always done. Product development in 2020 was different to any other year, for reasons you understand, but video technology came into its own and, actually, allowed us to collaborate with overseas designers quickly and easily, giving us a broader view. Collaboration gives us incredibly valuable insights and starts with the question ‘what do you look for in your flooring’?

The results

For Altro Operetta, Altro Orchestra and Altro Serenade the answer was a range of natural shades with design options that borrowed the visual benefits of carpet, stone and tile, without the hygiene issues that these finishes carry. The Bauhaus approach is to stay true to the material, so there was no intention to pretend to be anything other than vinyl, instead we worked on bridging the gap between vinyl and, for example, carpet. What do we like about carpet? Its look is warm, textured, homely, and it doesn’t always feature just one shade. We took a weave-style pattern and layered it with two tonal colours to give the perception of texture and depth, and enabling design flexibility when it comes to contrasting with or matching the surrounding décor. While a weave-effect is perceptible, the final look has almost a dot-matrix effect: a weave look with a twist.

“I really like this, I like the fact that it’s not regular, it’s got a sort of distressed look to it”
Eric Klein Velderman – Director, Cantoo Design

 

To emulate the sophistication of tiles but bring in more richness and warmth we developed a terrazzo look. The beauty of this tonal pattern type is that it can look muted or bold simply by changing the contrast of shades used, so we now offer varieties of both.

“It’s looking like a natural material, like a stone. It actually looks, when it’s down on the floor, more like a granite”
Chris Radcliffe – Senior Interior Designer - Maber

When it came to refreshing the shade palette, feedback was that natural shades are welcoming and comforting, but can achieve a high-design look - and it goes deeper: we know that biophilia – that innate draw we feel to nature has a positive effect on us and can aid recovery. Drawing from water, rocks, foliage and weather, we have a new palette of greens, blues, greys and earthy tones, each discussed and honed with our customers and partners.

With our approach of balancing form and function, we also looked closely at the performance of these floors. The answer to ‘what do you look for in your flooring?’ put the spotlight on looking good for longer and hygiene – something that, in 2020, became top of everyone’s mind. Attention to cleaning is what makes the difference here, so we looked at making the process even easier, resulting in a reduced emboss on the three floors to ensure even less dirt build-up.

And that brings us up to date. See how the new ranges look in situ and order your samples here.

“First impressions is that they’re all really usable colours, Standard colours that we’d go with but are in all in different, interesting textures, which is always nice. So we could put something different forward, for a project, than we usually would, that’s a bit more design orientated.”

“It’s good to know the process you guys go through and that you do listen to feedback. I remember saying things and it’s all been captured, but you’ve also kept the originality of the product in the first place.”
Caitlin Cadman – Interior Designer, HLM Architects

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