Think National, Design Local

Six designers from the Washington, D.C. area win the first Design Local competition from Mannington Commercial by creating a carpet collection inspired by topography and transportation.

by Robert Nieminen

24 hours. 6 designers.

1 big idea.

That, in a nutshell, is what Design Local is all about. It’s also about finding inspiration in your own backyard. And, of course, it’s about creating beautiful carpet.

“As product manufacturers, we have always been interested in finding new ways to connect with the A&D community. In particular, we love to find ways to engage designers in product design,” says Natalie Jones, vice president of brand development and creative product at Mannington Commercial. “We were captivated by the idea that a large company could create a platform to support local design, with an emphasis on how design reflects and contributes to the communities where creative people live and work.”

This idea led Mannington to launch Design Local, a new product collaboration program in which the company partnered with designers from different firms in four cities—Austin, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco—and charged them with capturing and translating the unique spirit of their hometowns. During a 24-hour design immersion, the teams fanned out into their cities, armed with digital cameras and $200 spending cash in search of ideas and inspiration; they then worked together to create themes and concepts for a collection.

(Interiors & Sources served as the official media partner and helped document the process during each city stop—visit our Inside Sources blog for more.)

In the weeks that followed, the teams collaborated with Mannington’s product designers and colorists to develop their sketches, photography and artifacts into coordinating patterns. The resulting carpet collections were then posted online, with the final winner selected entirely by voting at the Design Local website.

The winning collection, On the Grid, was created by Team D.C., along with Mannington’s product designers, and was inspired by topography and transportation. Maps, signs and graphic representations break up the streets in a city that is remarkably well-laid out into quadrants, grid systems and traffic circles.

At the same time, the fact that the city is so walkable and boasts one of the best public transportation systems in the world makes this mapping very human. In fact, none of the six Team D.C. members own a car; all rely on public transportation, pedal- and foot-power to travel to work each day.

On the Grid will now become a full product collection of carpet and LVT, manufactured by Mannington and displayed at the NeoCon World's Trade Fair in June.

We recently sat down with the team from Washington, D.C. to find out what inspired them in creating their collection and what they learned in the process.

I&S: What did you enjoy most about the competition?

anne stahl: The best thing for me was when all the designers got together—really understanding how their thought process works. Going to see one city, we all came up with similar ideas and little twists on each one, but it was really neat to see how six designers from different places could come up with one great, cohesive idea.

patricia duval: One of the things that was really interesting was the photography was very similar ... it was very cohesive and had the same language. It was almost like we were following the same concept without agreeing to it, so that was amazing.

kristyn hill: I like the idea that it was a design charrette. It kind of pulled back to when we were in school and having these little mini-contests. It gets you excited again about design, and it’s kind of nice and fresh.

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