f there were a floor covering Olympics, marble would probably get gold. Hardwood would get silver. Bronze would maybe go to tile — and linoleum wouldn’t even make the trials. Arguably the most maligned flooring there is, these days linoleum is considered (at best) something you rip out to get to the real floor. But it wasn’t always that way.
Linoleum burst on the scene in the late 19th century, the brainchild of an eccentric inventor named Frederick Walton. Before long it was an international sensation and considered the height of luxury. It was even featured on the Titanic and in British Parliament. For nearly a century, linoleum remained the flooring of choice in homes, shops, and schools all over the world.
But when linoleum fell, it fell hard. For decades it was relegated to schools, hospitals, and your grandma’s kitchen — until recently. These days, linoleum is enjoying an unexpected revival in some of the world’s coolest spaces. Watch the video above to find out why.
To read more about linoleum, check out Pamela H. Simpson’s work:
“Comfortable, Durable, and Decorative: Linoleum’s Rise and Fall from Grace” (https://www.jstor.org/stable/1504636?…)
And “Linoleum and Lincrusta: The Democratic Coverings for Floors and Walls” (https://www.jstor.org/stable/3514398?…)
If you want to see some linoleum patterns through the ages, The Building Technology Heritage Library has some great catalogs:
If you want to lay down some linoleum in your home, check out forbo’s options (you can even order a sample!):