Design Collaborative: A Changing Landscape

Jan. 1, 2009

Manufactured Landscapes by Tandus provides the marketplace with an entirely new way to look at carpet and its impact on facilities of all types.

In late spring, the Flint Hills of Kansas present an engaging and varying landscape of colors and patterns. The shifting of the sun or the gentle blowing of the wind visually alters the landscape-deepening or lightening colors, blending vegetation in ever-changing patterns. The inspiration for Manufactured Landscapes by Tandus also came through a view of nature-in this case altered by industry-much as the elements alter the visual appeal of the Flint Hills. As a result, the interior landscape, and carpet's visual impact on that landscape, has completely changed.

Designed by Suzanne Tick, design director for Tandus, and her work/life partner, Terry Mowers, who is the company's chief creative officer, Manufactured Landscapes brings an innovative new carpet to the marketplace.

"We continually look for ways to differentiate ourselves from the competition," says Ralph Grogan, Tandus' chief operating officer. "Suzanne and Terry presented their idea for the product to us, and we were very excited to move forward with this completely different concept."

Manufactured Landscapes was designed to alter the way people look at carpet. Static configurations are eliminated based on the carpet's characteristics. All six of the designs are created within three separate and distinct 24-inch carpet tiles, which can be configured to form a changing landscape.

"We conducted extensive research with our customers, sales reps and in-house manufacturing team as part of the development process," adds Grogan. "This effort helped us to test different design concepts and to make certain that we were truly bringing something new and different to the market."

Grogan notes that producing Manufactured Landscapes required significant changes to the company's operations. "Our manufacturing group is very good and they understand the need for innovation," he says. "They embraced the
concept, and worked to change our processes to bring this product to market."

The concept came to Tick after seeing photographer Edward Burtrynsky's images of the materials and debris generated by Earth's inhabitants. "Burtynsky's images are alarming yet beautiful," she says. "His documentation of the world's landscapes encouraged me to think about how we could change the perception of the floor. The carpet industry has traditionally designed for the same repetition of a pattern, which does not allow for an open landscape. I believed we could create a landscape from carpet tiles that would open up the plain."

Manufactured Landscapes' patent-pending, multi-tile system is produced as three separate 24-inch tiles that are packaged and designed to be installed as one. Seven subtle changes involving texture, pattern, relief, luster, and weave are tufted into a single 6-foot substrate and then backed and cut. The 12 colorways feature a range of grays and earth shades with landscape-themed names, including Wood Pulp, Land Management, Recycled Aluminum, and Solar Engine. As light shifts during the day, the colors in each design work together to allow the carpet to "move."

"The beauty of Manufactured Landscapes is that it can be installed in any way," says Tick. "The pattern and pile-height change in a dynamic way that creates subtle highs and lows within the carpet."

In Mowers' opinion, the collection gives designers and their clients an intriguing new offering. "This product creates a random aesthetic on the floor in a tailored, sophisticated and subtle way. Manufactured Landscapes addresses the concern that many designers have regarding pattern and color fatigue, especially in very large installations such as trading floors where having a visual difference on the floor would be welcome. We believe that we've negated this concern because of the carpet's changing visual appearance."

Mowers likens the product to an Armani suit approach to carpet design, noting that Manufactured Landscapes offers a graceful elegance delivered in a new format. Both he and Tick agree that the product is perfect for any installation and that it is especially appropriate for corporate and higher education projects.

Above: Suzanne Tick, design director for Tandus, and her work/life partner, Terry Mowers, who is the company's chief creative officer.

The market's reception to Manufactured Landscapes has been very positive, and three extensions are already part of the product's life, including Landscape Colours and Landscape Textures, which were introduced in December 2008. Landscape Colours adds color accents to the predominately neutral palette of Manufactured Landscapes in the form of a prescribed sequence of colored stripes. In Landscape Textures, the large texture and other features in the original product are compressed into one 24-inch by 24-inch tile to provide a reduced scale product for smaller spaces. Landscaped Patterns will be introduced in the second quarter of 2009 and will further expand the qualities found in Manufactured Landscapes through the addition of eight new patterns featuring organics, florals and graphics. In all cases, designers will be offered yet another way to change the way that carpet is viewed. 

Janet Wiens is a freelance writer based in Memphis, TN. She was formerly marketing manager for HNTB and now works with industry clients to address their marketing and public relations needs. She can be reached at [email protected].

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