Posted on 1/13/2013 9:55 PM by AnnMarie

Mannington Commercial’s Design Local program will culminate in the big showdown come early next month when the web site goes live along with all completed carpet designs from the four participating cities—Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Austin. The design industry, which has been waiting with breath that is bated, will finally get the chance to vote for their favorite line! The exact URL will be released shortly.

DL’s final stop was in Austin, Texas in November and I must say that personally, this city’s spunky sense of Americana has made me just a little bit partial…

Another crew of local design stars was compiled by Mannington to translate this city’s flair into a carpet tile and coordinating LVT collection. Perhaps it was that hint of grit and grime that it serves up—from its food truck culture to its vibrant music and art scene–that makes it such a refreshing new scene of inspiration. "There's a comfort level here of things not being perfect," says Mary Bledsoe of the Lauck Group.

This group was a unique one in that they decided to head towards the same parts of town and THEN divide and conquer – a different approach when compared to the other DL city scrambles. I was a little wary when I found myself shadowing Chris Martin of Abel Design, a real life James Bond.

He’d revealed to the group earlier that he was formerly in U.S. counter-intelligence. Little did my then 5-months-pregnant-self know I had no reason to worry: this guy had actually delivered a baby in a car while working in Afghanistan.

"Here, there's the idea that you can see the past and present simultaneously. In Texas, they think of how it will look after it's weathered," he says.

Martin and I certainly hit up a good variety of spots:

Mural on the outside of an apothecary that offered religious candles and statues, and of course large paper bags of various herbs, oils, bath salts and incense. "It was like a Texas and Mexican culture mash-up," Martin told the group later on.

This bizarre rattlesnake sculpture surrounded by a circle of garlic cloves sat atop of a display case overlooking the store.

Martin took to these buildings with overhangs as he says they reminded him of the way homes were built in the area he lived in in Germany for some time.

The East Side Fillin' Station food truck park!

Once back at homebase and everyone began to share their findings, all agreed that Austin is a city where the old and rustic is paired with the gleaming and new, technology and nature so to speak. And the question became "how do we represent that irregularity. How do you put that fun and chaos into a carpet?" asks Bledsoe.

Holly Lang with HDR found a very graphic focus in her surroundings and saw a great deal of linear and circular combos, as well as the color yellow.

Giancarlo Salonga of HOK actually laid all his pictures out on the ground.

Salonga also focused on the juxtaposition of the precious vs. rustic. Many of his artifacts and pictures focused on the imperfections and weathering seen throughout the city, such as the dried coffee stains on concrete he took a photo of. He also came back with a vintage playboy and some albums.

The word of the day was "irreverence" for the Design Local Austin group. And we can't wait to see how that translates into a carpet collection!