Design Collaborative: Sophisticated Clipart

Sept. 1, 2007

By Janet Wiens

Milliken has revolutionized carpet design for the hospitality marketplace with Convergence, a sophisticated technology that offers designers a unique and cost-effective design tool.

Different entities that converge can have positive or negative results. Consider a glass of warm milk and a cookie verses a pin and a balloon. In the case of Milliken Hospitality, a business unit of Milliken & Company, collaboration between the company's design team and manufacturing experts ushered in a new way to design carpet for the hospitality market. Welcome to ConvergenceTM, an award-winning product technology that will produce even more dramatic results with time.

The technology, which is a new way of utilizing Milliken's existing manufacturing capabilities, integrates patterns and colors into the carpet's structure so they appear as one. The result is a revolutionary new way to design carpet.

"Convergence was a team effort that involved tufting, dying, manufacturing and product development," says Kaye Gosline, creative director for Milliken. "The end result for the designer is the same, but we now have a new and different approach to providing what they need."

Convergence was introduced at NeoCon® in 2006, and ÉtageTM, the first line that showcases the capabilities of Convergence, was unveiled at HD Expo in 2007, where it took home the Best Product Design Award in the Flooring, Carpeting and Carpet Systems category.

"We understand the pressures that designers face, and that they need and want better, faster ways to design," states Gosline. "Money for custom designs in the carpet portion of a project's budget is typically very small. There's limited time to sketch something to create a wonderful custom design. With our technology, designers can easily customize the carpet for each installation in a manner that is very cost-effective and timely."

Gosline generated the color direction for Étage from her "Revolve 2007" color forecast, which includes 25 new colors that were inspired by the art, architecture and beauty of Italy. Her work was then integrated with the talents of other professionals at Milliken to create the new Étage Collections: Tallinn, Barcelona and Milan, which all contain small, medium, and large-scale elements.

 Rug B in the Barcelona Collection blends six elements to create a bold graphic that is eye-catching and vibrant. See sidebar

Tallinn is described by the company as "an arabesque design characterized by layers of free-flowing pattern and floral motifs," while Barcelona is "a fun, whimsical design with bright Mediterranean colors with pinwheels and circles that dance and flow." The Milan Collection is considered to be "filled with fashionable swirls, curves and arches that are anchored by an orange sunburst flower that is almost 4 feet in diameter."

The concept is simple. Étage offers a set of colors and patterns that can be combined in a host of different ways to create the desired carpet. A designer can even pull a pattern from one line and blend it with patterns and colors from another. It's a sophisticated version of clipart, according to Gosline. A designer begins with a textural graphics tufting structure and then integrates layers of patterns in whichever color they want to use to create the desired result. At least two layers must be used, and one of these must be the background.

"We've given designers starting points at every level," says Terry Luebbers, senior designer for Milliken Hospitality. "They have the freedom to blend colors and patterns as they choose-to customize the carpet to enhance their design theme."

Both Luebbers and Gosline state that a project's floor is now viewed as a canvas, and that it is more integral to a project's design than it has been in the past. This necessitates that carpet have a fluid rather than a static characteristic that will allow a designer to be inventive when it comes to products that are used for corridor borders and door drops as well as larger carpeted areas.

"We have always been an extension of a project team's design staff, but Convergence and Étage allow us to serve in that capacity even more," states Luebbers. "A designer calls in, tells us what colors and patterns they want, and within a week we generate a concept for them to review. And that speed will only improve."

The improvement that Luebbers references is a soon-to-debut interactive Web site that will allow designers to use the 30 total components in the three lines and numerous colors to produce their own initial designs in a matter of minutes. When this capability is available, Luebbers believes that he and others in his department will become less involved in working on actual motifs and more involved in looking at the overall design of the space with a focus on the carpet's impact on and its integration with the selected theme.

Milliken manufacturers Étage's tufted, patterned broadloom carpets with Invista® Type 6, 6 nylon fibers that are available in 32, 36, 42 and 50-ounce cut-pile construction. Multi-level loop construction in 32 and 36-ounce is also available. The carpets carry a 10-year wear, stain and soil and bleach-protection warranty.

Through the use of Convergence, Étage and other future Milliken lines offer the perfect capability for today's design
community, according to Gosline. She adds that young designers are very technologically savvy, so having the ability to produce a custom design at one's fingertips is important. But no matter the age or experience level of the designer, they are certain to appreciate the broad range of options, speed and versatility offered by this new product technology.

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