Entering the Shaw Contract showroom during NeoCon 2018, it would be nearly impossible for one to ignore the bright patterning made out of large geometric carpet tile shapes spread out across the floor. But even if you didn’t make it to Chicago this year, it’s probable that you’ve seen the photos across social media.
The Inside Shapes collection, created in collaboration with the Stockholm-based design studio Form Us With Love, reimagines the standard 24” x 24” carpet tile. Utilizing a CNC machine to cut each tile into four forms—square, diagonal, point, and curve—17 pre-mixed and endless custom options are possible to create unique solutions.
Hearing about Form Us With Love via trade shows and publications, Shaw approached the studio to “challenge them,” explained John Lofgren, industrial designer and co-founder of the studio. His co-founder and CEO, Jonas Pettersson, expanded: “From the very beginning, Shaw was open to innovation, to identifying new opportunities in their production. We wanted to approach the carpet tile industry with a fresh perspective and brought with us our first instincts and impressions, while Shaw’s expertise focused and enhanced our collective efforts.”
“Inside Shapes is a genuinely groundbreaking product that has deep layers of design thinking at play,” said Reesie Duncan, vice president of product design for Shaw Contract. “It’s the result of a very considered and intentional method of working with different talents to constantly innovate.”
Over two years, the companies collaborated via sometimes-daily Skype calls and instant messenger chats to merge the Swedish and American brands’ carpet tile ideas (Shaw Contract is headquartered in Dalton, Ga.).
Lofgren described the process as a “super sweet journey” and stated that Form Us With Love’s first ideations didn’t quite make it. “We aimed for the moon and ended up in the tree tops,” he laughed. Still, working through such kinks is just part of the process, and Lofgren said that the final collection is proof that an idea can grow over time like “an inspirational snowball.”
Because Shaw manufactured the yarn in its eco solution q product, there was freedom in which fibers and colors the carpet tile collection could contain. Of the 12 colors that were eventually chosen, dark green was the last to be finalized. The color involved twisting three colors together to create the rich hue.
Hardships of Infinite Possibilities
Of the hardships surrounding the collection, Lofgren said the most difficult aspect was in how to present the infinite possibilities to designers in a way that would be usable. “When it was understood that we had the framework to be limitless, [the concern] was how to help people cope with this,” he said. “[But] when you hook people and they start to learn how to deal with it, that’s when the fun starts.”
Part of that fun was present in a showroom “easter egg” during NeoCon. Attendees may have noticed the Shaw and Form Us With Love teams wearing enameled pins of pizza slices. The quirky collar accessory pays homage to the internal name for the Inside Shapes collection as it was being developed: Project Pizza. Lofgren pointed out that the shapes—including triangle and circle—arrive packaged in a square box, much like a pizza.
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