Arabian Business - Underfoot innovation - featuring 'Alchemy' and Mother of Pearl Tiles

3 October 2007

by Adam Dawson
Think about flooring and the usual suspects crop up time and time again: wood, carpet and ceramic tiles, to name but a few.

But with buildings in the Middle East continually vying for position as the most innovatively designed, flooring is taking its own steps in the same direction. Silver tiles, mother of pearl and leather are just some of the materials now used to inject the wow factor into flooring.

It might seem extravagant to use metals such as silver or brass as a flooring solution but given that the Middle East seldom shies away from extravagance, it is a flooring option that is making waves in the region, according to Alvaro Ziani de Ferranti, chairman of London based luxury flooring company, De Ferranti.

"This flooring is proving to be popular in the Middle East, especially the brass, which can register as gold. The silver is also popular as it seems to be more sophisticated," he says. The company recently installed its metal flooring in the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in London. But while it may look the part, is metal really a feasible flooring alternative? de Ferranti believes so: "Metal is durable and lasts a long time and is easy to maintain. It has a lustrous quality and tarnishes over time giving a beautiful patina. Saying this the tiles can be brought back to their original state with metal cleaners."

The downside of using metal flooring is that it is a commodity and as metal prices fluctuate, so does the price of the flooring. It is also very hard and cold underfoot. In addition it conducts heat, cold and sound, for this reason it is common to have a number of rugs placed in areas where metal flooring is present.

Another high-end product manoeuvring its way into the world of flooring is mother of pearl. More commonly used in the interiors of super yachts, the flooring is created by placing a veneer over a rigid substrate such as marble. "This type of flooring is commonly used in bathroom floors as well as accents such as cabochons or linear borders in floors, which keeps the costs down," explains de Ferranti...

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