As a trend forecaster, a large part of my work involves informing manufacturers and retailers what will be on-trend in the future. This enables them to make more informed decisions about what to make and stock, but it also leaves my team with a challenging quandary: how do we help our customers make more money without reneging on our commitment to encourage them to be more environmentally responsible - and in tune with consumers' new ethics and lifestyles?
Since the financial crisis hit, the new mantra for many of us has been "less is better". The pace of purchasing has certainly slowed as we review our spending habits, edit our possessions and re-evaluate our complex lifestyles. For many of us the vast choices that once seemed liberating now feel overwhelming, unnecessary and wasteful. The lust for constant and rapid newness is being replaced by considered consuming.
But many manufacturers and retailers have not yet accepted this reality and are still churning out more of the same, using up valuable resources on products that do not represent real improvement. We all need to encourage designers, manufacturers and retailers to dedicate their efforts and resources to products that are significantly better or different from what is already widely available. Otherwise, why make it?
The flooring industry is one of the many offenders of this sameness, continuing to produce tile, laminate, carpet and wood collections that are virtually identical to those of all their competitors'. Therefore, when a talented new designer who pushes the boundaries of what is possible comes along, we need to applaud such efforts. Step forward Anthony Hughes and his Industrious Senescence collection of bespoke patterned and textured wood flooring. I have never seen anything like it.
The wood is sanded to reveal the natural grain and then screen printed with dyes. The industrial imagery creates an urban grittiness against the warmth of the natural wood. Hughes also applies metallic foils, deep flocks (so on-trend) and soft suede textures, as well as bound yarns and twine, bringing new levels of sensory pleasure underfoot.
All of these features offer a truly handcrafted flooring that will slowly change over time with use; layers fade and wear away to reveal new colours and print beneath.
Hughes's willingness to create bespoke designs is also heartening. He is not overly precious; he respects the end consumer and revels in the possibilities of customisation and personalisation. His collection is a significant development in flooring innovation.
As consumers, it is our responsibility to try to seek out more products that, like this flooring, are special, unusual, customisable, cleverly and considerately designed, long-lasting and of course have good green and ethical credentials. The aim is to have fewer but more fabulous possessions.
Victoria Redshaw is the managing director of Scarlet Opus. For more information on Anthony Hughes's flooring visit www.anthony-hughes.co.uk. For more on Scarlet Opus, visit www.trendsblog.co.uk and www.scarletopus.com. Find more of the latest interior design ideas at Trendspotting.