Design Collaborative: Material Inspiration

Oct. 1, 2007
Designers for Shaw Contract's Texture Study found their inspiration for the new line in the textile houses of Paris and New York.

By Janet Wiens

Walking through the store of a fine clothing retailer inspires the senses in many ways. Colors flow together and shout for attention based on their pattern and boldness. Textured fabrics can stand out from the rack, drawing in the potential customer and encouraging them to touch. A fine, rich woolen or tweed viewed on a crisp fall day almost begs to be taken outside and worn to a football game or on a walk through the park. For the designers at Shaw Contract Group, the images of fine clothing and the appeal of the fabrics used to create them served as the inspiration for a new carpet line—Texture Study—that is already receiving a warm reception in the marketplace.

"A year ago, we made a commitment to pursuing the high-end professional services market, which was a different market and approach for us," says Reesie Duncan, creative director for Shaw Contract Group. "Our first line for this initiative, the award-winning Silk, was very well received. Texture Study builds on our new approach and, we believe, gives the market what it requested. The growth potential is significant in our opinion."

Looking to couture fabrics for a new carpet line is certainly a different, even slightly unorthodox approach, but one that provided many intriguing opportunities for the design team. The research for Texture Study involved analyzing thousands of fabric swatches gathered during visits to couture textile houses in Paris and New York. Felts, snakeskin, lustrous metallics and other blends and finishes were touched and reviewed. The design team then evaluated the swatches to identify familiar trends. Boxes containing numerous swatches, similar to science project boxes, were prepared and used with potential customers during field testing to gauge their reactions to the proposed line.

The Texture Study line offers a sophisticated carpet choice that is perfect for the boardroom or a high-end retailer.

"Texture Study is targeted to the market for executive and corporate offices, financial institutions, high-end retail, and healthcare," explains Duncan. "The subtle colors, textures and materials provide a sophisticated carpet choice. The inconsistencies in the line work in a way that is very appealing. The carpet is a subtle yet engaging design component."

The line has two components—sleek and rough, both of which are available in tile and broadloom. In total, there are two styles in both tile versions; four selections in the sleek broadloom; and six options in the rough broadloom. Duncan says that the differences in texture and subtle contrasts play off one another. The single colors in shades of black, gray and a range of other color options provide an appropriate flooring choice for many design concepts. For example, the light gray, according to Shaw, "reveals a depth and richness of texture" that is suitable for a host of applications.

The weaves used in Texture Study run from a rich tweed in the rough broadloom to a flat weave in the sleek tile. According to Duncan, the opposite characteristics of the two textures open a new door for design when they are brought together based on the ability to mix contrasting textures. Pairing different textures in the same color alone provides a host of design options simply because the finish and weave are different.

For all its beauty, Texture Study is equally desirable from an environmental perspective. The carpet tile contains EcoWorx® backing—the carpet industry's first fully sustainable, non-PVC backing for commercial carpet tile products—and contains 40 percent recycled content. EcoWorx is fully recyclable in a closed-loop, Cradle-to-Cradle process called "elutriation," which consists of grinding the carpet into a course mixture, and then separating the elements based on their weight using air flow and gravity: The old is tuned into something new.

Texture Study was introduced at NeoCon® in 2007 and Duncan says that the line will continue to evolve based on the market's response to the product. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.shawcontractgroup.com.

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