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Celebrating Your City

Mannington Commercial's Design Local program kicks off in Chicago with 24 hours of frantic, inspired design.

By AnnMarie Martin

Mannington Commercial's Design Local program kicks off in Chicago with 24 hours of frantic, inspired design.

Inspired by the Shops at Target campaign, Mannington Commercial launched its own nod to Main Street in late August with its Design Local program.

First held in Chicago, the company will make stops in three more major cities through the fall— San Francisco, Austin and Washington, D.C.—assembling a team of designers from various firms in each location. Each team member is given $200, a digital camera and free reign to collect details, objects, pictures and artifacts that represent their city. The team then reassembles and puts all of the pieces together to create a new flooring collection—and it all happens in a span of just 24 hours.

“As we watched the Shops at Target campaign unfold this past year, we were captivated by the idea of a large company creating a platform to support and celebrate independent retailers—all with an emphasis on how design can contribute to community and the buying experience,” explains Natalie Jones, vice president of commercial brand development and creative product. “These values resonated with our own core values at Mannington, and Design Local was the result.”

“We have always been interested in finding new ways to connect with the design community. In particular, we look for ways to engage designers in our product development process. As a nearly 100-year-old, family-owned company with manufacturing locations in nine communities throughout the U.S., we are also deeply committed to producing local goods, keeping jobs in America and giving back to the communities where we live and work,” she adds.

Media partner I&S was there every step of the way to document these highly original ventures. While in the Windy City, tagging along with Team Chicago members, we found them inspired by everything from graffiti to architecture to fashion, resulting in an overall theme of “hard and worn.”

Many members sought out texture and pattern and found themselves stuck between nature and architecture, the two worlds colliding on a continual basis throughout the city.

“The city mimics itself constantly,” says Madelaine Eschrich of Forrer Business Interiors, who found similar shapes throughout town.

Another important theme for Team Chicago was reflection. “I played with reflection and layering,” says Victoria Stemmer of Murphy Jahn, “as there is lots of reflective glass around.” (We are proud to report that Stemmer got kicked out of a couple clothing stores that afternoon!)

For Team Chicago, it was a study in oxymorons: luxury met grunge and elegance met rawness that afternoon. “And that sort of defines the city,” explains Suzanne Maynard of Cannon Design.

“The designers in the first event, representing six firms from the Chicago area, dove in deep from the first moment, collapsing the traditional design process—inspiration, interpretation, conception and translation—into an intense 24-hour period,” says Jones.

“As they shared their perspectives and inspirations, it was remarkable to see common underlying themes come to the surface, then evolve and develop. Seeing six individual talents work as a group to shape patterns and color palettes was an incredible experience and makes us look forward to seeing where their entry in the competition ends up—as well as to the 24-hour design workshops in San Francisco, Austin and D.C.”

Once the Mannington production team has completed all four collections, they’ll be posted online by early 2013 for the public to vote on.

The winning team and collection will be celebrated at NeoCon in June. Look for more coverage of Design Local in future issues of I&S and on