Design Collaborative: A Natural Partnership

June 1, 2008

The collaboration between The Natural Carpet Company and designer Roger Thomas resulted in a signature line for the hospitality market.

By Janet Wiens

Sidebar: The Design Process 

The partnerships between a manufacturer and a designer are forged for many reasons. In the case of The Natural Carpet Company and Roger Thomas, executive designer for Wynn Resorts, the reason centers around a genuine respect for the talents of each entity and a desire to offer the hospitality market a sophisticated line of carpets, rugs, wall coverings, and ceiling coverings.

Norman Marks, president of The Natural Carpet Company, states that his experience with Thomas made selecting him as the designer for the collection the right choice. "I had worked with Roger before on projects for the Wynn organization, and I have a personal appreciation for his creative talent. When I found out that he was licensing his name to selected products, I knew that I wanted The Natural Carpet Company to be his choice for carpets and rugs."

Marks says that developing the Roger Thomas Collection, which had its formal debut at the Hospitality Design Expo 2008, fit with his company's business plan, which is focused on the luxury hospitality market. He states that Thomas' industry reputation, proven capabilities as a textile artist and appreciation for natural materials reflect Marks' own passions.

"We have created a line that has broad appeal from striking to casual," explains Marks. "There is an exuberant use of color in some patterns that are fun and informal while others are subtle with softer tones. The patterns offer designers a wealth of choices."

The collection includes handcrafted Tibetan carpets and rugs, hand-woven natural fiber carpets and rugs, and jacquard machine-woven abaca carpets, rugs, wall coverings and ceiling coverings. In addition to abaca, materials also include silk, wool and raffia.

The Giardini pattern is playful and bold. Two color choices are currently available and customization is encouraged.
The sketch Thomas made of a bas relief of the tree of life was turned
into the Cuernevaca pattern, a sophisticated design in coal on white.Thomas’ inspiration for Buenos Aires, a hand-knitted Tibetan wool
and silk rug, was found in the geometry on the floor of a townhouse in the vibrant South American city.Sicilia and Pisa (below), hand-woven abaca and raffia rugs, are appropriate for use in many project elements, including floors, ceilings, walls and headboards.

According to Marks, the sustainable aspects of the collection are as important as the designs themselves, saying that the line reflects The Natural Carpet Company's commitment to not using synthetics. The company was built around the use of abaca fiber, one of the strongest natural plant fibers that is also renewable, biodegradable and sustainable. Like other company products, the carpets and rugs in the Roger Thomas Collection are certified Green Label Plus by the Carpet & Rug Institute.

For his part, Thomas says that The Natural Carpet Company meets his demanding requirements for creativity, quality and reliability. "From the beginning, Norman and his co-workers demonstrated their problem solving and creative talents, as well as their respect for a project's schedule and budget," he says. "All of these factors are very important to me."

Thomas, who always carries a sketchbook with him, says that he found the inspiration for the designs in the collection during his travels and the experiences that he had with a wide range of art, architecture and decorative arts throughout the world. According to Thomas, the environment and people stimulate his designs with one idea often leading to another.

The Cuernevaca design in the hand-knotted Tibetan wool and silk rug portion of the collection, is one example. Thomas was dining with friends in Mexico when he spotted a bas relief of a carving of the tree of life. Cuernevaca, which is offered in coal on white (all designs can be custom manufactured to a designer's color choices), presents a delicate and engaging pattern.

Other Tibetan rug patterns, such as Rezzonico, Barozzi and Tuileries are similar in character to Cuernevaca with soft, flowing lines. In contrast, Buenos Aires and Bruneleschi celebrate bold geometrics while Giardini-currently available in lichen, moss, coal or flame hibiscus, purple, and olive-harkens to fallen leaves on the paths of Venice's Giardini. All rugs in the hand-knotted Tibetan group can be woven up to 33 feet wide and 50 feet long, which makes them appropriate or installations both large and small.

The abaca jacquard carpet, manufactured from 100 percent abaca, is appropriate for use on floors, walls, ceilings and as insets for cabinets or tables. The pattern, titled Bruneleschi, is currently available in three color choices: dawn, sunset and midnight.

Raffia joins with abaca to create the current 12 selections in the hand-woven abaca and raffia rug group within the collection. All rugs can be woven up to 25 feet wide in unlimited lengths, making them a perfect choice for large installations. Designers and their clients may specify from selections that vary in colors and weaves from Palermo, which comes in light colors with a small, tight weave, to the bold red of the Tuscany pattern.

"I have used, and hope that others will use, elements in the collection in dramatic and engaging ways," says Thomas. He notes his use of abaca damask on the ceiling at the Spa Court and in the Lure Lounge, both at Wynn Las Vegas, as two examples.

Both Marks and Thomas agree that the line is a work in progress. New ideas for patterns will continually emerge based on customer feedback and requests as well as Thomas' own inspirations. Customization, as previously mentioned, is encouraged.

"My intent is that other designers will select designs in the collection and that they will use them to make their own signature elements for their clients," concludes Thomas. "I hope they will use what is offered as the take-off point to inspire their own work."

The Design Process

Sketches show some of Thomas’ initial design concepts for the patterns Trianon, Bruneleschi, Laurelton, and Capelo (shown clockwise from right).

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