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“We have been able to develop a system of shock absorbers between the tiles that captures electricity rather than sending it back to the lower back and causing musculoskeletal problems”


“We have been able to develop a system of shock absorbers between the tiles that captures electricity rather than sending it back to the lower back and causing musculoskeletal problems”

Category: Europe - France - Suppliers - Providers - Interviews
Interview made by Christopher Buet on 2023-06-22

In sport, it's hard to be insensitive to surface problems because what athletes have under their feet can determine their performance. Hockey, which is used to synthetic surfaces, knows all about this. To improve the comfort of its athletes, the French federation has entered into a partnership with Module Carré to equip its pitches.

The French company, founded by Nicolas Brutin and Giovanni Belloni, is specialised in floor coverings, and offers its customers durable, resistant and effective solutions. While sport was quick to seize the opportunity, the hotel industry could also benefit from it, and Module Carré’s products are not lacking of assets.

Starting with the infinite possibilities they offer. Indeed, square tiles are available in rectangle shapes and now also in triangular shapes, creating checkerboard patterns as graphic as they are original and dynamic.So, you can let your imagination run wild and draw whatever you want to create a unique effect and atmosphere, especially as there are several colours to choose from.

Furthermore, by working with designers and architects, the company has diversified its product range to include furniture, like trays, tables and worktops for kitchens and bathrooms. A development that opens up new prospects.

After five years in business, Module Carré and its employees are still just scratching the surface of their business’ potential and are aiming to conquer the luxury hotel industry, thanks to their experience in sport, which has enabled them to perfect the biomechanics of their product and expand their collections.

That's why the Journal des Palaces asked one of the company's founders, Nicolas Brutin, to find out how these floor coverings, which fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and require no glue or joints, could be used alongside marble and other old parquet floors in luxury hotels.

Journal des Palaces: When was Module Carré founded?

Nicolas Brutin: Module Carré was founded in 2018 on three pillars:
- Modularity, eco-responsibility and aesthetics. The first is to offer wall and floor solutions that can be installed without glue, screws, nails or resin.

- A strong commitment to the environment. A large proportion of our products’ ranges and collections are made from recycled plastics. It didn't make sense to create an eco-designed product with a 'green' label and then seal or glue it down, so we had to think about the installation method. We don't remove the existing floor, we cover it, whether it's tiles or parquet, which avoids waste, dust, asbestos... We’ve obtained 'Cradle to Cradle' certification for one of our sheets made from recycled plastic. This means we can reuse them ad infinitum. We make sure that all our products respect these intentions as much as possible.

- Aesthetics, is essential in the luxury hotel business. We want to prove that, as well as being modular and eco-responsible, our products can be beautiful, with a variety of colours and modern looks.

What is your vision of luxury?

Luxury means preserving our resources and therefore being able to offer a product that is both aesthetically pleasing and respectful.

Which prestigious hotels are you working with?

We're currently in a prospective phase. We were at the Hotel & Lodge awards. We took part in various events with the aim of making ourselves known to luxury hotels and palaces and promoting our material.

We found an ambassador with Hôtel Rosalie, a four-star-hotel located near Place d'Italie in Paris, which is very committed to the same environmental approach and holds the "Clef Verte" label for sustainable tourism. The entire hotel was renovated using . We didn't do the floor because they chose to do it with recycled fishing nets, but we did make the washbasin units with our recycled sheets (PolyGood), in a white base from recycled fridges.

We also add black inclusions using computer hardware (keyboards, mice, etc.). That was a year and a half ago and our customer was so satisfied that he asked us to provide courtesy trays for each room. We’ve plenty of projects, like creating recycled rubbish bins and soap boxes. This project is enabling us to develop new capabilities for our products.

Have you been able to get in touch with more prestigious hoteliers, discuss their needs and what you can offer them?

We find out what their needs are and try to understand them. As far as manufacturing is concerned, we have set ourselves very strict specifications, and the luxury hotels have theirs too. We have to find the right compromise when it comes to sourcing raw materials and product quality so that we can achieve the best possible result that will add value for hotels, and then work with them.

What demands owners and general manager ask you for?

The most important thing is repeatability. When we propose a product, we have to be able to do it on palaces’ standards, in a harmonious way. Today, in the manufacture of objects or floors, with fossil materials, it's easy to repeat because you always use the same thing. For us, a large proportion of our raw materials come from sorting and recycling, so this is a major constraint. For example, an ebony black can vary depending on what we find. It's up to us to put even stricter constraints on the choice of colours to ensure a uniform collection.

This nuance, this non-standardised aspect, can also be one of your strengths. What are your thoughts on this?

We also need to find the tolerance of having a slightly different product from one room to another and get customers to accept these nuances. This is part of our product offering. For example, we’ve just produced a test bookcase for an architect working for a luxury hotel. This bookcase is made of translucent panels. The project’s aim was to create a unique piece, to play on colours’ reflections through the material, the originality and the precious aspect of each element.

Do you feel they are interested in your products?

We're getting more and more requests for sustainable renovation. We're also working with a material that represents a break with what's available today in the hotel industry, and we feel an interest in combining this type of element with more noble materials.

What advantages would hotels have in working with Module Carré?

Firstly, we work with a material that can't be found anywhere else. Secondly, we are a French company, and all our warehouses are based in Orléans, as is our cutting workshop. This gives us the speed and flexibility of design, akin to goldsmiths, in that we can create bespoke pieces, permanent or otherwise, for each customer.

We control the entire chain, from the manufacture of the plate to its delivery and processing. Moreover, we built a “take-back program” that commits us to take back all our sheets and waste so that they can be used and recycled to make flooring or other elements.

We also already design objects that include wood from responsible forests. We can also offer this approach. It indicates that we're not just focused on our material but that, for a given project, we can call on external skills to provide the ideal product.

Why did you decide to base your business in France?

Listening to our customers is our ambition and our day-to-day approach. It's very complicated to transform products for a specific use when there are too many intermediaries or too much distance. In France, we’re lucky to have some excellent craftsmen. We've teamed up with young and talented ones in design, transformation and creation, who add value, but also with well-known designers on screens, tables, coffee tables and other accessories.

Which designers have you worked with?

Our last collaboration was with Louise Rué, who created screens for us. For Hôtel Rosalie, we worked with Marion Mailaender. Each project has its own architect or designer to guide the creative process. They bring us new ideas and every month we see our collections grow.

Do you produce your own tiles and products?

We source our products exclusively from sorting centres in Europe, and we want to keep all our production in Europe. We then work with a subcontractor who supplies us with its machinery. From there, we create ideas and colours.

To manufacture wall coverings and objects, we’ve linked up with a Dutch company. We then distribute, market and transform sheets into furniture and decorative items in France. There are various possible alliances, but the main idea is to find the right industrial partner who can guarantee quality in line with our values.

What are the limits to your creations?

We have a range of standard designs and decors in mineral or wood finishes. We also have the option - and we've already done this for several brands - of creating made-to-measure designs or reproducing a slogan, quote or logo. There are no real limits to what’s possible. We have already printed an area of several hundred square metres based on a design supplied by a customer.

For the floor, we've created tiles with hidden joints that imitate perfectly, for example, ceramic or terrazzo. At some exhibitions, customers really thought they were seeing granite, but were surprised to find PVC tiles when they lifted the product.

For wall slabs, we’ve tried to create a rectangular format as long as possible, up to three meters, to create worktops and shower cubicles from a single slab.

What are your next development projects?

We want to build a better relationship with the luxury hotel industry. We have plenty of ideas and projects, and we surround ourselves with designers and architects who bring us their solutions.

We're starting to make a name for ourselves by meeting influential people and fashion and luxury brands. We'll be exhibiting at Maison & Objet in September (7-11 in Paris), but also at more specialised fairs like Materials & Light (11-12 September in Paris) and Rendez-vous de la Matière (October 10-11 in Paris). At the Rendez-vous de la Matière, we designed the entire stand to showcase the potential of our recycled slabs.

We also want to expand our collections to include bistro tables, outdoor benches, prestige trays and boxes for cosmetics, to appeal to hoteliers.

Our customers are increasingly asking us for products designed to meet new environmental constraints. We have to think as much about manufacturing as we do about use, to ensure that it is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Do you also work internationally?

Last December, we attended the Big 5, the leading construction exhibition in Dubai. We made many contacts there in the Middle East and South Korea, and even got some initial orders.

We're capable of projecting ourselves into the export market, but for the moment we're focused on supporting our first partners and satisfying our French and European customers : Belgium, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal.

About the author

A journalist with many skills and an ever curious traveller, Christopher has a great attraction for carefully refined hotels, where characterful gastronomy, impeccable service and sincere elegance go hand in hand. A discreet and gourmet pen at the service of a certain idea of luxury.

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