LVTs role in creating ‘social media worthy’ leisure interiors

The role of LVTs in creating ‘social media-worthy’ leisure interiors – guest blog by Emily East, Interior Designer at Bignell Shacklady Ewing.

Within any leisure venue, a visitor is no longer just attending for an activity, they are also impacted by the space itself. The interior design of leisure venues and the overall feel within the space provide a visitor with a complete experience, one that they will want to share.

Ace of Lanes, Bishops Stortford, Bignell Shacklady Ewing

From the main entrance to the toilets – each detail and finish matter. With the next generation wanting to visit ‘Instagrammable’ interiors, the need for leisure venues to be photogenic from every angle, in innovative ways, is increasing.

According to Oberlo, Instagram now has over “1 billion monthly active users and more than 500 million of them use the platform everyday”. They also add that “83% of Instagrammers say they discover new products and services on Instagram”. This is an extremely large network of people, constantly learning about the latest trend, restaurant chain or even song releases!

Instagram has become a popular space for food and beverage trends to be shared (we all remember the start of the ‘cheeky Nando’s’ and everyone desperately photographing their food before tucking in). However, leisure interiors are slowly following and transitioning to become social media-worthy venues too.

The main leisure interiors that have begun to pop-up on our timelines are new brands, normally with fresh ideas; Ghetto Golf, Puttshack, Flight Club, Roxy’s Ballroom and Bounce to name a few, with people wanting to socialise in new ways. Or some new takes on traditional past times, like Lane 7, and more of these feature ‘Instagram opportunities’ – spots to pose and have your picture taken – typically with the name of the venue to share awareness (I couldn’t count the amount of flower walls on my feed throughout 2018/19).

Food and beverage venues are also starting to adopt this with places like Dirty Martini featuring illuminated wings and halos and Elan cafes popping up over London (more flowers of course!). As designers, we have been asked to add these zones into some of our recent work – particularly in nightclubs, most recently Deltic’s Eden’s, to increase the social media presence of a brand. But, as some of the above brands have proven, it isn’t just about featuring some photo spots now – it’s all about the entire space being photogenic.

Puttshack, Westfield
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Carlton Bingo, Fife Leisure Park, Bignell Shacklady Ewing

Gyms, exercise studios and leisure centres are also starting to follow the trend with brands pushing their identities in various ways. From bold patterns inset into floor finishes, to neon lighting and heavy industrial schemes (Rebel, for example), even the space which you work out in must now look attractive from every perspective.

In order to do this, designers need to consider every surface as a design detail. Historically, walls would be the main area of interest, with the trend of focal walls, along with anything at eye level such as counters and furniture. Now everything you see must be thought through: ceilings, doors, skirtings, floors, transitions and stair edge trims.

So how can we create these dynamic, memorable interiors with effective use of flooring?

Providing a more cost-effective finish: LVT traditionally replicates an alternative finish; typically - wood, ceramic or stone. But with the market stretching further and further the designs and styles are increasing to create a diverse range of options, like the painted vintage timbers in the Altro Ensemble range. But we aren’t just limited by the design printed within the LVT – there are various plank/tile sizes and shapes which can be combined to create unique patterns: the design possibilities are endless. With wear layers (commonly 0.55mm or 0.7mm) to suit various applications, the durability of LVT can differ; however, all commercial ranges will withstand a lot of wear and tear throughout high traffic zones. The benefit of the manufacturing process of LVT is that if an installation does feature areas of wear, planks or tiles can be lifted and replaced with ease and designs can even be matched if required.

Opera Bingo, Barrow-In-Furness, Bignell Shacklady Ewing

There are some great examples of how LVT floors can be used to add identity within a space; Nocturnal Animals in Birmingham for example. The striking monochrome geometric pattern on the ground floor draws you into the bar, while the 4-colour pattern in the basement restaurant resembles a dance floor. We recently designed and completed a project with Altro Ensemble, creating a striking design feature around the bar counter. The design wasn’t too complicated on plan, 3 colourways in 2 varying sizes and in a laying pattern from the Altro initial ideas – but when you see the result it really is impactful and we already can’t wait for our next project that we can try a new pattern on.

LVT can even be used to replicate tiled finishes, like tiled entrance halls and foyers, recreating traditional designs, in a cost-effective way. Another well photographed and shared trend is #ihavethisthingwithfloors, where intricate, beautiful tiled floors are shared amongst millions who also appreciate these details. This trend spanned from the #ihavethisthingwithwalls hashtag which quickly flooded Instagram feeds and commenced the ‘Selfie Wall’ movement (now even #ihavethisthingwithdoors has started).

Sometimes, the floors will also include text, which could be a word or phrase, occasionally associated with the location, enhancing the buzz about a new place or trend to be following.

Franco Manca, Birmingham
World Trade Centre, New York
Opera Bingo, Barrow-In-Furness, Bignell Shacklady Ewing

As people become familiar with the finish or text on their timeline, the place becomes more desirable – people want to take the same picture and get the same feedback on their posts. Due to the flexibility, wayfinding can also be incorporated into the floor finish, with brand logos or a directional motif cut out of the LVT and infilled with another colour or finish entirely.

Opera Bingo, Barrow-In-Furness, Bignell Shacklady Ewing

LVTs can have many applications within leisure venues – from bar skirts to main floor finishes they can go just about anywhere that isn’t a consistently wet space. With most achieving an R10 slip rating, they are perfectly suited to commercial leisure environments. We use LVT on most of our projects: bowling alleys, cinemas, nightclubs, bingo halls, gyms and leisure centres, casinos and holiday parks etc. Of course, the acoustic properties that some LVTs have, like Altro Ensemble, are an additional benefit and these enhance our specifications even further. LVTs are typically quieter and warmer underfoot than most hard surfaces.

LVT is also a great solution due to its transitional abilities. The thickness of some LVT ranges results in seamless transitions between other finishes, such as carpet tiles. LVT can also be used to create borders on LVT patterns or other finishes, or even to zone areas within a large space.

Forms can even blend into one another with no need for transition strips, creating a modular flooring system. The transition, therefore, doesn’t need to be regular – it could create a shape itself and enhance the design. Finishes can be staggered into the LVT design or LVT can be cut to suit the form of another finish – for example it can sit seamlessly beside a hexagonal LVT piece or a hexagonal tile. Because of this condensed thickness variation that LVT can lead to, installation times can also be reduced.

All these design possibilities – design, size, laying patterns and transitions - mean that LVT has many ways of enhancing the brand identity within an interior and can be truly unique to the space itself. The floor design can therefore enhance the overall scheme, and become an exceptional focal point, that people want to share amongst the billion monthly users, on just one of the major social media platforms. We can’t wait to develop how we continually use LVT within leisure venues to progress the sector for the social media generation to share.

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Posted: 28/01/2020 11:02:44 by Lea Charnley | with 0 comments