Posted on 9/4/2012 6:40 AM by AnnMarie

Civic pride has been conducting a refreshing sweep of the design industry for quite some time.

“After all, why trudge through airport security and sit on a plane for hours just to stay in a hotel that looks exactly like the last one?” mused our contributing writer Kyle Wroblaski in her Trends article back in April (see article here). “Whether you’re visiting a hotel across the world or just across the country, you expect to experience a taste of your destination’s culture,” she wrote.

“Accordingly, hospitality designers are now incorporating local elements into everything from hotels to restaurants to spas, helping to showcase a location’s unique materials, cultures and traditions, and providing visitors with a memorable, flavorful experience.”

Of course this trend is not just exclusive to hospitality designers, or hospitality in general. Consumers of all realms are on a quest to revitalize Main Streets across America, buying locally and making sure the spaces they inhabit properly reflect the neighborhoods and towns they love so much.

And Mannington Commercial has wisely decided to ride this wave with their new initiative: Design Local.

I&S was honored to be asked to partner with them in getting the word out for this highly original and brave venture. Starting last month with Chicago, the flooring giant is hitting four cities this fall: Chicago, San Francisco, Austin and Washington D.C. In each, they’ll assemble a team of designers from various firms. Each team member will be given $200, a digital camera and given free reign over the city for a few hours to collect details, artifacts and objects that represent the particular city they’re in. Within the next 24 hours the team will reassemble and put all these pieces together to create a flooring collection.

"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,” says Natalie Jones, vice president of commercial brand development and creative product. “As a nearly 100 year old, family owned company with manufacturing locations in nine communities throughout the US, we are also deeply committed to producing local goods, keeping jobs in America and giving back to the communities where we live and work.”

In conceiving the Design Local concept, Mannington was inspired by the Shops at Target campaign. “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 to the buying experience. These values resonated with our own core values, at Mannington.”


(left to right in image above) Rob Maynard of Gensler, Erin Foster of Perkins Eastman, Madelaine Eschrich of Forrer Business Interiors, Suzanne Maynard of Cannon Design, Victoria Stemmer of Murphy Jahn, and Emily Robinson of HKS made up Chicago’s team.

“The designers in the first event, representing six firms from the Chicago area, dove in deep from the first moment, collapsing the traditional product design processinspiration, interpretation, conception and translationinto 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 these 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 upas well as to the 24 hour design workshops in San Francisco, Austin and DC."

Once all four collections have been completed next year, they’ll be posted online for the public to vote on their favorite. The winning collection will be celebrated at NeoCon 2013.

We don’t want to give too much away, so we’ll just wet your creativity whistle with these few images from the Chicago event. Stay tuned for further coverage in our October issue.