Design Collaborative: Maine Inspiration

Sept. 1, 2008

The new Angela Adams Collection by MDC Wallcoverings features images inspired by the designer's home state of Maine.

By Janet Wiens

Rocks along the shore; waves crashing along the beach; a basket woven from native materials—designer Angela Adams, a Maine native, has been surrounded by these and other images found in her home state her entire life. Now, Adams' partnership with MDC Wallcoverings means that designers and clients throughout the country will be able to gaze upon her interpretations of Maine's natural wonders.

MDC's leaders adopted the idea of producing a signature collection based on two trends they saw in the marketplace, according to Dan Brandt, the company's product manager. "The design community is demanding more eco-friendly products, and we needed to respond more to that demand," he says. "In addition, name designers are partnering with manufacturers on a greater level to create signature lines, and we felt it was appropriate for our company to pursue this avenue."

Brandt says that MDC was approached by a number of designers, including Adams. He notes that company officials liked her style, story and lifestyle, and felt that her passions were appropriate for the new line they wanted to create.

"Angela's relationships with Shaw Carpet and Architex were also attractive," states Brandt. "We see a synergy that we believe can benefit designers in multiple ways. For example, the potential networking between sales representatives from the three companies can save designers time because they can schedule presentations with multiple companies simultaneously. We also foresee the easy integration of products from each company into a project because of similarities in Angela's patterns and colors."

The designs and colors in the MDC collection are a departure from existing company offerings, according to Brandt. The line features eight designs in eight to 12 colorways, which gives designers extensive options.

Bringing the collection to market also resulted in other significant changes in manufacturing and long-term handling, including the development of a reclamation program that involves construction waste as well as post-use material that can be returned for recycling. In response to sustainability goals, the collection is manufactured using ECORE, MDC's revolutionary, patented non-PVC material which provides strength and lightweight formulation. ECORE is made from polyester and co-polyester microfilament fiber, water-based inks with no heavy metals, and is engineered for Type II performance.

Other attributes include breathable material, 100 percent post-consumer recyclable content, a stain-resistant top coat, and extremely low-VOC emissions. The collection is Indoor Air Quality Certified by GREENGUARD and can contribute toward points under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Rating System for both new construction and commercial interiors projects.

For her part, Adams says that one of the greatest challenges involved editing the collection. "We had many designs and colorways that we loved," she states. "The designs translated beautifully with the product, making it difficult to narrow the offering when it came time for final cuts."

Adams adds that she strongly connected with the Betty design, which feels to her like a woven basket with its handcrafted texture. She also has a fondness for the Archie design, which she reports is "fresh, timeless and modern."

The collection was developed with the corporate, healthcare, hospitality, and residential markets in mind, but Adams believes the designs can be used in a wide range of installations. "My goal is to always create beautiful and relaxing offerings that will help create comforting environments," she explains.

Adams believes in the healing power of good design, color and pattern, and states that she does not want spaces to feel like "healthcare" environments or "hospitality" spaces. Instead, she wants all projects that incorporate this MDC wall covering to realize an inspiring and comforting environment ... regardless of the application or the space's purpose. In that regard, it is easy to see the eight designs being used in numerous ways. For example, the collection's Grass design could just as easily appear in a restaurant as it could in an animal-themed room in a
children's hospital. As Adams says, the possibilities for creativity are abundant.

Like Brandt and others at MDC, Adams wanted the production of the line, and the materials used throughout the manufacturing process to be as environmentally responsible as possible. According to Adams, she and her husband, designer Sherwood Hamill, seek to live in a way that respects the earth. MDC's goal of producing a new wall covering that would address the market's demand for additional sustainable products was thus very attractive to her and an important part of her partnership with the company.

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The line previewed at NeoCon® in June and is scheduled to formally launch in September. The response has been very positive to date, and both Brandt and Adams believe that the possibilities for the collection are endless. New designs and colorways will be added based on Adam's own inspirations as well as feedback from designers and others in the industry. If her vision is fulfilled, Adams will "see this wall covering everywhere."

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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