In a typical showroom, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of samples. These spaces are often static and devoid of life. But as an extension of a brand, a showroom has the potential to be so much more than a place to display products. Case in point: Tarkett Ateljé, a recently opened showroom in Stockholm’s trendy Södermalm design district. An innovator in the push toward a circular economy, flooring brand Tarkett turned to local firm Note Design Studio to create a space that reflects its forward-thinking values. The interior — unveiled in June 2021— highlights process alongside product, and is designed to create a forum for dialogue.
Stepping inside the showroom, you might expect the most prominent design feature to be the floor itself. But the magic of Tarkett Ateljé lies in its ability to defy outdated conventions. “We wanted to show the holistic approach needed for circular transformation,” explains Tarkett marketing manager Kerstin Lagerlöf. “This has driven us to design a new type of showroom that’s more than just a material library, instead a place that demonstrates how design and sustainability interact and how the circular economy goes from words to actions.”
To that end, the flooring products are displayed in whimsical ways that bring the company mission to life, and showcase the products’ versatility: from pastel purple bespoke light fixtures and linoleum wallpaper to terrazzo-inspired tables and even the kitchen cabinets. Serviceability was also top of mind: the full array of product samples is still accessible to designers, tucked away in cubby-like drawers.
Honouring the brand’s circular aspirations, Note Design Studio opted not to make any permanent structural changes to the space — a former tobacco factory — to ensure the displays could be updated without needless waste. Each design element is easily removed, recycled and replaced, including the floor tiles and wall panels.
True to Tarkett’s Human-Conscious Design ethos to create supportive and inspirational spaces with minimal impact on the planet, the showroom is structured around a sunken central auditorium and community hub that hosts lectures, seminars and exhibitions.
In the face of ever-present greenwashing, Tarkett Ateljé also aims to make the company’s sustainability efforts tangible. The brand admits that previously, many of its products were labelled as recyclable simply because they were made of recyclable materials. Tarkett has since developed the infrastructure to back these claims. Committed to innovation at every step of the value chain, Tarkett has implemented the ReStart program, which collects products at their end-of-life to be recycled into new ones. The company has even gone so far as to invent a large-scale washing machine that removes the adhesives needed to install their flooring products, normally a key barrier to recycling otherwise recyclable products, allowing them to be broken down and repurposed.
Containers filled with raw material are located throughout, demonstrating how their post-use recycling program — which has now collected over 112,000 tonnes of flooring — gives their products a second life. Also, on display are traces of the brand’s partnership with IKEA, which works to remove and recycle the vinyl flooring in their retail stores when they undergo renovation.
Over a year since the showroom’s inauguration, the company continues to find ways to stay relevant. One such way is by collaborating with local makers and designers. During last month’s Stockholm Creative Edition design festival, for instance, award-winning designer Gustav Winsth debuted a mini collection made from Tarkett’s recyclable iQ Granit and iQ eminent vinyl materials.
Entitled Cross Section, the exhibition demonstrates a different approach to sustainability and unconventional ways to use Tarkett’s materials. “Gustav Winsth shows that with the right material choices, design can be colourful and extravagant without compromising on sustainability,” Lagerlöf explains. Mounted layer by layer, the objects which include a shelf, bench, room divider and bowl appear to grow out of the ground, resembling topography. Playing off the granules that make up Tarkett flooring, Note Design Studio has accented the space with graphic organic forms that complement Winsth’s work.
While it is often assumed that sustainable design is most conducive to a minimalist aesthetic, Cross Section demonstrates that, when approached correctly, maximalist design can be sustainable. The exhibition is temporary, and so are the pieces. When they are done being displayed, they too can go back into the system for recycling and reuse, closing the loop.
Cross Section is on view at Tarkett Ateljé until the end of June.
From playful product applications to artist collaborations, the space — designed by local firm Note Design Studio — showcases the brand’s sustainable flooring products in increasingly imaginative ways.