Can you have too many cooks in the design kitchen? The recipe for successful product development has been put to the test by Mannington Commercial and ONE Global Design. The flooring company tapped into ONE Global’s network of 18 firms to create a cohesive collection of LVT and carpet tiles. The modular planks are inspired by key cities in North America, taking cues from unique natural and cultural features in those regions. By mingling principals from different locations, the collection displays a flexibility that stems from its creative origins.
Synchronizing Multiple Design Voices
The collaboration was a suggestion by Stephen Wells, a principal for Hendrick. Part of the ONE Global conglomerate, the firm had previously worked with Mannington on a carpet line so joining forces was a welcomed opportunity.
“While the design industry is already proactive about seeking new ways to be inspired, not many companies are forming partnerships for a project of this scope and breadth,” explained Natalie Jones, vice president of brand development for Mannington Commercial. “Because our collaborative muscles are already developed as part of our culture, it’s easy for us to match this process with like-minded firms.”
A design brief was organized in October 2015. More than 20 designers from nine ONE Global firms were organized as principal-led teams. From the onset, it was agreed that the LVT and carpet lines should form a complementary collection rather than individual offerings. The group also toured Mannington’s production sites to get an inside look at fabrication techniques.
Each team then had five weeks to prepare the first concepts. The East Coast team worked on the LVT and drew from the cultural landscapes of Mexico City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York. The West Coast firms looked to organic and topographical influences from their states.
“It was fascinating that the East Coast group was inspired by what makes their cities unique and the West Coast team took cues from natural elements,” Jones commented. “We were impressed that these design directions were formed independently of one another yet make a cohesive statement within the larger product story. Using this many principal-led firms is like having a built-in focus group.”
The first round of digital imagery was finalized in December and patterns and color were refined thereafter. A ONE Global design summit two months later provided the perfect setting for all 18 firms to evaluate the line’s pattern, usability, and color studies.
“Because the firms span from Canada down to Mexico City and across the U.S., the feedback neatly lined up with each of the intended market segments,” Wells said. “We received thoughtful critiques and incorporated suggestions into the final designs.”
A Fruitful Product Launch
Debuting at NeoCon 2016, the collection offers visuals and textures that appeal to corporate, healthcare, higher education, and hospitality interiors.
“The Infused Collection of LVT incorporates graphic elements,” Jones noted. “Customers are moving beyond stone and wood looks and turning to abstracts. The color palette can celebrate bold and vibrant pops or subtle accents.”
The Intrinsic Collection of carpet tiles provides scalability that can transition from open environments to smaller retreat spaces, Wells explained. Specialty patterns can also achieve a hospitality feel for public areas. “Intrinsic features sophisticated organics and plays on texture,” Jones added. “Its contours and visual layers create a carved look that retains a low profile.”
Wells, who acted as project director, recommends clearly outlining the design objectives so both parties have the same set of expectations. This can encourage trusted relationships to form during the creative process.
“Virtually all of the individuals had never worked with each other before yet they immediately clicked,” he said. “They worked seamlessly as if they had been on a team for years. Everyone had a portion of the project to execute and worked diligently to make sure the goals were met.”
The final product, Jones added, came from the individuals’ ability to learn and collaborate. “When you partner with a diverse group such as ONE Global, the team members push each other and challenge you in return. It sharpens the end product because there’s a setting aside of egos.”
Wells also suggested accepting the realities of the fabrication process. While some of the designers had created custom carpet before, none had ever worked on LVT. Mannington helped the team overcome this learning curve so the design goals remained feasible.
“Be nimble in your design,” he stressed. “No matter what your concept is, it will have to be massaged to fit within the limitation of the manufacturing process.”