Patcraft’s 2019 Flooring Collections Find Beauty in Imperfection

08/28/2019 By Adrian Thompson

Vice president of creative and design Shannon Cochran discusses Patcraft’s creative process for its 2019 commercial flooring collections and highlights how one collection in particular, Subtle Impressions, explores the imperfect beginning that led to an imaginative end.

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*This podcast was created in partnership with Patcraft.

Adrian Thompson: Welcome to the I Hear Design Podcast. For those listening, I’m Adrian Thompson, associate editor for interiors+sources.

Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Shannon Cochran, who is the vice president of creative and design for Patcraft. Shannon, thank you so much for joining me today.

Shannon Cochran: Thank you for having me.

Adrian: Yeah. You’re so welcome. So, Shannon, I know Patcraft has had quite the busy year this 2019. Your team has rolled out some beautiful carpet and flooring collections, several of which, I know you’ve of course debuted at NeoCon. I saw them myself, in person.

I just want to say one of my favorite things about all of your collections that were on display was just how you set them up in your showroom in theMART.

I felt like I was really taken on a journey through the creative process of how all of these lines were created. And that’s just something we really love to focus on here at interiors+sources.

Patcraft Subtle Impressions Floraculture
(Photo: Patcraft Subtle Impressions Floraculture. Credit: Patcraft.)

So, today, I just really want to start off our conversation with how Patcraft’s recent collections are kind of trending with this concept of imperfect is the process. I know that’s something you guys have really been focusing on.

So, can you just tell us more about what this means to your design team and the idea of finding beauty in imperfection?

Shannon: Sure. And thank you by the way. It was a really exciting NeoCon. And you know, it’s always interesting when we start looking at what we’re going to show and then is there a thread that really ties collections together?

And when we started talking about all of the collections that we were showing at NeoCon, there wasn’t really a visual connection. But one of the things that we talked a lot about was the process.

And it was really driven by making things and crafts. That was something that we really felt like was important to our team on a daily basis.

But also, it’s relevant in the market today.

So, within our design team, we have designers who really lean towards different mediums. It may be photography; it may be weaving or painting.

I think all of those things really influence their approach to design – it’s something that they’re really drawn to. And they really appreciate working through different things that maybe they’re not as familiar with.

Patcraft Subtle Impressions Scatter
(Photo: Patcraft Subtle Impressions Scatter. Credit: Patcraft.)

That idea of imperfection really speaks to the artists’ hands. I think that’s really what starts to create those products that have soul and a story.

And so, we always try to work through that exploration. I think it’s really important to their process as it always informs the pattern, the color and even how the entire collection might work.

And it’s always interesting when we start a collection. A lot of times we end up in a place that maybe we didn’t intend. Or I hate to call them fails, but a lot of times we do things in the product development process and maybe we get a different result than what we were expecting.

But I think those are the things that really evolve into the interesting parts of the collection.

Adrian: Absolutely. And I think some of the best things have been created by happy mistakes if you want to call them.

Shannon: Absolutely.

Adrian: And I know one of these collections in particular, Subtle Impressions, which is one of my personal favorites, it really embraces this inspiration and artistically highlights this concept.

I know you guys incorporated these beautiful flowers and did a lot of flower pressing, which I’ll let you elaborate more on that. But can you just explain the design team’s creative process behind Subtle Impressions and how the process impacted the final result?

Subtle Impressions Still Life
(Photo: Subtle Impressions Still Life.)

Shannon: Absolutely. So, Subtle Impressions is an interesting one and something that we haven’t shared, but I’ll share with you, is that the original inspiration was something totally different.

The original inspiration was very textural, and it was about the impression that the hand left in clay or that the soot leaves on the earth. And so, it was all about these really subtle textures, it was all very tonal.

 And as we started talking through what was important for our brand, we talked to a lot of customers. And they talked a lot about hospitality influence and bold color and flexibility and how they could use that in a space.

And the designer who was working on the collection mentioned to me a college project that she worked on and it was all about flower pressing. And would we want to look at Subtle Impressions in a different way?

And I said, “Absolutely. Let’s do that. Grab flowers and some fabric and let’s see what we get. You know? Let’s see if this is something that could evolve into a collection.”

I think that insight coming from our client is really important to our process and it’s something that is really foundational for us and a lot of times, moves us in a different direction.

So, the design team started looking at these flower pressings. And we thought it was really beautiful that once the flowers were pressed, you got this really abstract sort of shape. So, it wasn’t as literal as a true flower, but it created these really beautiful shapes that really could be anything.

Kristin Faye Photography
(Photo credit: Kristin Faye Photography.)

We loved that it was inspired by a natural element. And we could incorporate a lot of color.

So, using these pieces of artwork, we went to the computer and those things were digitally rendered. And the outlines of the shapes and different shadows and overlaid those to create different scale and different contrast. And really used those pieces that were created from the flower press thing to influence what we were doing with design.

Adrian: Yeah. And you can really see, like you said, it’s not a literal translation, but you can see emphasis and traits of where the natural inspiration came from.

And for everyone listening, I really encourage you to actually check out the Patcraft Look Book on your website because the images you have in there are gorgeous.

It just kind of lays out the creative process of this flower pressing and what some of these kind of watercolor, abstract images look like. It’s really fun to look through.

Shannon: Yeah. So, it was really cool when we started this process, and we have learned from other projects that we’ve done, so we had a photographer come and capture our process so that we could share that.

It was a really great experience from us, and it was very interesting to look at her photographs because a lot of times, she saw something totally different. And we would use pieces and parts from actual photography if we needed something that was a little cleaner. So, it was a really cool process to be involved with.

Kristin Faye Photography
(Photo credit: Kristin Faye Photography.)

Adrian: And then Shannon, would you say this is a traditional process for most of Patcraft’s collections? Or was this kind of stepping out of your comfort zone, trying something new?

Shannon: I would say a little of both. Every collection doesn’t have a story like this. It always has a story. And I mentioned listening to the market, that is definitely a key trait of the brand and really core to who we are.

So, a lot of times, it’s a simple as an insight from a customer that’s driving a collection that we’re working on, whether it’s a scale or a price point or a solution that we need. It could be a texture.

But then a lot of collections have bigger stories. I would mention Artifacts that we introduced last year, which was all about rust dying and that was a process that the design team went through.

We were really inspired by those pieces and the idea how metals and react together and all of the patterns that are inspired.

So, it’s really a balance. Every collection can’t be a huge exploration. But we do like to have a story behind it because I think it really informs the collection as a whole and how it works, and how it’s colored and how the patterns are formed.

So, it’s really just a balance for us.

Adrian: Yeah. I think that this collection really put the nice emphasis on kind of turning these imperfections into positives during the creative process.

So, how did you kind of roll with those moments through this collection’s story when you came along some hiccups? And what would you guys say you learned as a team along the creative process?

Shannon: I would say the thing we learned is listen to the inspiration. You know, it’s always interesting when you have the artistic mind and the tactical mind and sometimes those things work in opposition of each other, knowing we have a deadline. But there’s more exploration to do.

So, as we looked at the project and what it was going to be, we struggled a little bit about with how does this work on the floor? What are the key components? And how do our clients use it?

And I told somebody early on as we were talking about it that I had two fears about this collection. One was that we would put so much color in it that it would almost be garish and unusable for the majority of our clients. And number two was that we’d make it so neutral that it doesn’t speak to the inspiration.

So, those two things in my mind were sort of fighting with each other.

But as we started looking at the inspiration and the pieces that were created from the flower pressing, one of the cool things that we saw was that even with the same petal, it released dye in different ways depending on the pressure. It created this really beautiful ombré effect and you would almost get shades of a color.

Subtle Impressions Still Life
(Photo: Subtle Impressions Still Life.)

A lot of times it would even change casts depending on the pressure that was placed on that petal. And that was sort of our “ah-ha” moment so to speak.

We saw that and thought, “Okay. Well what if we create three different colors so that ultimately the designer who’s working on the project has the flexibility to use those as they see fit?”

So, that designer could say, “I want it to move from golden yellow into a greener sort of yellow,” depending on the space that they are designing for.

So, they could be used for wayfinding or if you need impact areas or collaborative areas, or something that needs a little more energy – you could pick and choose how you use this.

And that was the moment where we thought about the importance of the authenticity of the inspiration and how it really drives, informs the collection as a whole. And I think when we listen to that inspiration, it’s a much more fluid process and ultimately a more usable collection.

Subtle Impressions Still Life
(Photo: Subtle Impressions Still Life. Credit: Kristin Faye Photography.)

Adrian: Yeah. I think the final result shows that you guys ended up finding that nice balance you were looking for throughout. You can really see that each of the patterns use elements of the same design, but they also have subtle variation from pattern to pattern.

Just so our listeners know, can you kind of describe the patterns that are featured in the collection and then maybe some of the types of interiors you hope to see them applied in?

Shannon: Absolutely. So, we started with Press, which is the abstract neutral. One of the cool things about that was taking the elements and making sure that it had depth and movement on the floor, and it felt natural even without the color. Because I think the thing that everybody is drawn to is the color.

We felt like if we could make sure that the neutral base that holds all of these things together, if we could make sure that that would work and it has the same impact, that we could build the collection from there.

It's really just about abstract, tonal colors that move within a tile. You’ll get light and dark areas, we wanted it to feel natural, like almost petals falling on the floor, but nothing too literal.

Kristin Faye Photography
(Photo credit: Kristin Faye Photography.)

From there, we looked at varying scales and ranges of color. And again, thinking about that flexibility in the end and how that works, so we have Perennials which is the smaller scale. And it has diffused elements of color.

So, if you’re looking for something that’s just a touch of color, Perennial is the pattern. It’s a little more spread out I would say, the color, almost like you’re on the pressings, where you’re not getting that saturation.

Then we wanted to do something that was really bold, so that’s Floraculture. And you get these large, bold, abstract forms with a lot of saturation. And those two are really beautiful mixed together. And you can literally ombré your floor from no color into a little color, and then into bold, saturated color.

So, I think allowing for all of these components and thinking about how they work together with different distribution or coverage really makes sense to us.

I think ultimately, having this tiered approach to how much color you can apply in your space, again, just increases that flexibility and allows designers to build this system where you can use impactful patterns. And it makes sense for your space.

Adrian: And I love that ombré effect. It was one of my favorite things about the collection, how you can kind of build these saturations throughout the floor depending on what you’re looking for.

Shannon: Yeah. And it’s really easy and I think it translates into a lot of spaces. You mentioned which types of interiors we see this in, we have had requests for most every segment.

I would say definitely hospitality and corporate and then healthcare, we’ve had a ton of requests.

And I think it really just, you know, these nature-inspired, organic patterns that can be used in a lot of different places, they’re very textural.

Patcraft Subtle Impressions
(Photo: Patcraft Subtle Impressions. Credit: Patcraft.)

We actually used three different yarn sizes to create even more texture on the floor. We tried to play with contrast a little bit, so that they had a lot of depth and dimension.

But I think overall, just these biophilic patterns to create a sense of calm and well-being, regardless of the space. So, I see it going really everywhere with its flexibility.

Adrian: Well, we’re looking forward to seeing real-world applications of people who end up using Subtle Impressions. And of course, I know we talked about just that collection in particular today.

Subtle Impressions Still Life
(Photo: Subtle Impressions Still Life. Credit: Kristin Faye Photography.)

But you guys really had imperfect as the process message reflected in several of your collections, including Deconstructed Felt, Metal Collective and Handloom as well, all of which, like I said, can be found in the Look Book for those looking to see and learn more about the inspiration behind them.

Shannon, as always, thank you again for sharing more on your design team’s creative process on your 2019 collections. We always enjoy hearing from you and thank you very much.

Shannon: Thank you.

Adrian: Yeah. We look forward to seeing more from Patcraft in the future. For anyone interested in learning more about their products, you can visit their website.

Thank you to those who listened and tuned in today. We hope you join us again next time for another episode of I Hear Design.

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