Find out what inspired the new Vantage Collection, a collaboration between designer Stacy Garcia and Brintons Carpet, and get an insightful look into how the wellness trend will shape design as we think about life in the midst of and following the pandemic. Listen now.
*This podcast was created in partnership with Brintons.
Robert Nieminen: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the I Hear Design podcast. This is Robert Nieminen, chief content director of interiors+sources. I am glad you tuned in today because we have a very special episode for you.
If you received a copy of our April issue of interiors+sources or saw our social posts online, you know we featured our good friend Stacy Garcia on the cover as our feature profile, in which she recounted her journey and the challenges she faced while establishing her career in design, which involves a number of leaps of faith that helped her build her company to where it is today.
Along the way, Stacy developed some great relationships with brands and has collaborated with many companies that have licensed her designs over the years.
One of her long-standing partners is Brintons Carpets, a market leading supplier of woven carpets to the worldwide hospitality, marine, gaming and leisure, and private and public sectors. They partnered again recently to launch a brand-new collection, which they are here to talk about with us today in addition to some other insights into what is happening in the hospitality industry in the world of product design.
With me today are Stacy Garcia, founder of LebaTex and Stacy Garcia Inc. and Leah Jack, Vice President of Design for Brintons Americas who, if you aren’t familiar with her, has been designing carpet for 25 years and has been with Brintons since 2009, working with some major clients in Vegas, like Marriott, Omni, Four Seasons and Caesars Entertainment, just to name a few.
So, with that, Stacy and Leah, thanks for being here.
Leah Jack: Thanks!
Stacy Garcia: Thanks for having us today!
Robert: It’s great to have you both on to talk about your new Vantage collection, which we’ll get to shortly.
But before I do, I wanted to sort of get some of the backstory of your relationship because I know Brintons has been collaborating with Stacey Garcia for more than 10 years now. Leah, how does Brintons decide which studios and designers it wants to work with and what’s made a partnership like the one with Stacey Garcia so successful?
Leah: Yeah, that’s a great question and so Brintons is known globally for being a luxury brand and luxury Axminster design brand first and foremost.
Therefore, we like to partner with like-minded studios and designers who have this the same appeal for our client base. In terms of design, and that philosophy that we’ve adopted when we’re creating design collections and marketing content, it’s all about self-expression.
We’re very passionate about highlighting, design and highlighting our design team and giving them a very strong voice and to express themselves in connections to carpet. So, really, what better way of doing that than working with staff at Stacy Garcia and her brands.
Anybody that knows Stacy will know that her brand is basically an extension of herself. She has impeccable fashion tastes. Her collections have a very clear, authentic narrative and those in themselves, they exude luxury and comfort.
I think the success from our collaboration over the last 10 years has come from that sort of mutual respect of each other’s brands. Her team sort of looked to the Brintons design team for guidance during the design process, obviously, because we’re the professionals when it comes to Axminster carpet, and then we in turn look to her and her team for guidance in surface pattern and color guidance.
I believe Stacy is extremely successful in her use of bold colors, the color groupings, to kind of achieve clarity and contrast in the carpet designs and the collections without it being sort of too confused or pixelated, which is definitely a very technique to master as a carpet designer.
Robert: Sure. Sure. Yeah, we talked about some of her bold approach design in our April issue as well. Stacy, what’s it been like for you partnering with a brand like Brintons on so many of these collections?
Stacy: It’s really been, amazing—I think the first word that comes to mind. We talked a lot, like you said in the April issue, about my journey, starting my two businesses and kind of jumping off the cliff, I’d say and building your wings on the way down.
But what we didn’t get into in that article, which is interesting now as we’re talking about this specific relationship, is that I actually did part of my studies in London.
So, it was really fun to sort of have that piece of my education. I remember back early on in my career, doing some of the trade shows, I was working for different textile companies as a young designer, and Brintons was always this amazing heritage brand.
They always had this big booth at the trade show and just looked I would say very regal, very elegant, high end, and always had this sort of more traditional vibe, I would say. So, it was really, really fun when as I began to launch my career and started to get success as an independent designer, to have the opportunity to, what I like to say is, return to my roots.
So, to partner with a company that has this British heritage, that’s so well known for the quality of their product—at the time it was—they were controlling everything from the level of wool, which they still do, but very specific to the type of wool they were using, to the dyeing, the whole manufacturing process, and their ability to use so many colors within it, and to really capture the look.
But what was fun was to merge together, to sort of return to this root, to study in London, work with this company who has the British roots, and then bring a New York aesthetic to it. So, bring something that I had pitched them originally to say, ‘What is good, in Europe or what’s in style or in taste over there may be different than what’s in style in the States?’
I think that collaboration of being able to read the market in the United States and bring something at the time, I mean it was almost probably a decade ago or over a decade ago, that felt really spot on was just incredible. And they’ve been one of our longest standing partnerships, and really just a tremendous, tremendous group to work with.
Robert: Right, yeah. That’s really cool that you’re able to bring that tie into London from your past and studies and merge those two together. So, that’s really cool.
Stacy: It was cool. And I’ll tell you, just as a side note, but our first collection launch that we did, they chose at the time and I think we’ll talk more about it, but not to only launch it in the States, I think it was one of those that just had interest from other markets, so we ended up doing a launch party in London.
That really like brought the whole thing full circle to me as this kid who had studied there to then actually be launching a designer collection. They hosted this fabulous party for the London design community in their showroom at the time. It was just, it was so cool.
Robert: Yeah, that sounds awesome. That’s amazing. On the Brintons’ side, what does the design process look like, Leah? How do you go about moving a product from concept to completion like you guys did for this collection?
Leah: Yeah, sure. The actual design process across the industry hasn’t changed very much over the last, like over 200 years. Brintons was actually established in 1783. So, we are 237 years old, it’s just crazy to think about.
We basically moved from painting on gridded point paper, our designs were painted and drawn on this point paper, and we’ve moved to now working on computer and basically designing and painting on the screen.
The one thing that has changed dramatically has been the technology. Brintons invented the first Jacquard Gripper Axminster process, and they actually make all their own looms.
With the introduction of the electronic gripper loom in the 1980s, that moved us from physical Jacquard cards that were quite restrictive to the designer team into digital files. We now have unlimited sizes of pattern repeats. We can actually work on patterns on a 300-foot ballroom and it has no repeat.
We’re creating these huge works of art really for the floor. Every tuft of carpet is one pixel on the screen. So, again, it takes an extremely talented carpet designer to successfully translate the concepts or in this case, Stacey Garcia’s collection into woven Axminster, and still keep that depth and dimension on what is basically a flat surface.
Also considering scale and application, how many colors you use. I mean we love working with Stacy and her team because they use such bold colors. They’re very clever in the way that they mix those colors together—may it be 8 colors 12, 24.
Brintons can actually go up to 32 colors in one pattern. I believe we’re the only manufacturer in the world that can do that, which is very exciting. I mean you’d think 32 colors would be enough for a client but believe me, a lot of designers ask for even more colors.
We have to be very depth with how we create the patterns. If you’re only using 12 colors, there are different sort of techniques, texturing techniques and transparency techniques to try and really stretch those colors and make them look like more than you actually have.
But actually, moving the product from concept to completion, again, is a very collaborative process. The way that we work with Stacy’s team is exactly the same way that we work with all our clients. We try to bring their narrative to life.
We do that with the help of like the full Brintons team. We have a full-service team that we work with from sales execs, field designers, project management, planning, customer service. We control the entire process from the dyeing of the yarn all the way through to weaving and finishing.
We also weave our own samples, which is fantastic in this industry. When the client gets to a point where they want to actually see their design in carpet, we create samples for them. They can not only see their design, but they can also feel the product quality before they place their order.
There’s a few different ways of moving that whole narrative through the process. We have one of the largest textile libraries in the world that our clients have access to. We can change or manipulate any patterns that we have in any of our collections, including the Stacy Garcia collections that we have.
All that is online, we have an amazing online resource. So yeah, they can do that, or we can create something completely custom. We have clients who like to just give us a visual feel of the projects and the designs that they want. They might not actually put any patterns into that, and then it’s up to our amazing design team to translate that and do sketches. I mean really these carpets are pieces of artwork on the floor.
Robert: Right, yeah, absolutely. You mentioned working with Stacy and her team. How has that relationship evolved over time? Do you guys work together in the same way? Or has that kind of evolved over time?
Leah: Yeah. Definitely evolved. It’s funny that Stacey talked about her time in London, and then bringing in that New York style and it coming full circle. Because I actually started it with Brintons in 2009. I think Stacy’s first collection came out in 2010.
There’s actually a great kind of overlap of the timelines. And exactly the same as what Stacy was seeing, saying about her time in London, as a student, I was also the same. I was doing textiles and fashion design and then I started with a small manufacturer in the UK as a trainee carpet designer.
And I would always see the Brintons’ design collections and myself and my fellow designers would be drooling over what Brintons is bringing out and they really did lead by design.
Their marketing is phenomenal. I know Stacy will probably remember the marketing where they work with Vivienne Westwood and as a fashion textile designer that was just mind blowing, they had Vivienne Westwood create an outfit out of pieces of carpet.
It was just nothing like we’d ever seen in the industry before.
[Stacy Garcia Has a Reputation for Big, Bold Designs—And After 20 Years, She’s Just Getting Started]
Stacy: Yeah, it was amazing.
Leah: Yeah, it was just phenomenal. In 2009, when I got the opportunity to work with Brintons as a field designer in Dallas, I just jumped at the chance and had never been to America before in my life.
We basically packed everything up and moved to Dallas, and it was hot and humid and nothing like the British weather that we were used to.
That was really my first introduction then to the Stacy Garcia collections, that she had just launched her first collection. I worked as part of the team on the next sort of two or three collections bringing that together, never having really met Stacy. We were kind of in the background doing a lot of the interpretation of the design.
And then as my role has kind of grown through Brintons, now from field designers to the VP of design, I now oversee this amazing talent of designers in the Americas.
And also, I’ve seen Stacy’s team grow as well, which is fantastic to see. I’ve learned a lot from working with Stacy on color and pattern, and also watching how she leads her team and mentors her team. And I can take a lot of inspiration from that when I’m sort of mentoring and guiding my team as well.
That’s really kind of the overlapping timeline. But I think that design process, so the design selection process, I believe has evolved quite a lot from my experience. We’ll see if Stacy agrees with this. When we did the first collection, patterns were shown in multiple scales, multiple applications, multiple colorways. And now, you know that Stacy’s Brand, everybody knows the Stacy brand and her signature style, and they know Brintons.
And now we’ve really taken the sort of tower of the variety in showcasing colors and textures. We really consider every single pattern, and we now showcase every design as like its own piece of artwork in the collection.
There’s usually quite a strong color theme working through these collections, but yeah, we consider every single detail from the design through the marketing and the sampling.
We won’t just put in a design if we feel like it might dilute the collection. We really do focus on the details.
Robert: Right, yeah, absolutely. That sounds like such a great collaboration that you guys have had. I wanted to talk about the latest one, obviously, it’s why we’re on today is to talk about the Vantage Collection.
Stacy, can you talk to our listeners about what inspired this new line?
Stacy: Sure, yeah. First of all, it’s fun because over a decade, not only do you evolve as a designer, but your partners evolve. As Leah was saying, how things have changed from hand-painted artwork, to CAD artwork. Trends evolve over that time—what the marketplace is looking for in terms of color, in terms of pattern.
It’s funny, when we started, and I think one of the things that was a real breakout at that time with the first collection we did, and I promise I’ll wrap this into the Vantage Collection, but we were doing at the time these corridor carpets that had borders on them and were planted.
Then our collection together, we sort of broke the mold from that where we had medallions that were smashing into the walls, and it just took these traditional motifs and really abstracted them.
So, it’s been really fun over the decade to watch our teams evolve together, the trends evolve and to be part of that narrative of the industry, be part of supplying that inspiration to our customer base.
Whether they’re hotels, designers who are working on those properties, country clubs, cruise ships, which we’re praying that’s all going to come back. It’s been really an honor to have this relationship with Brintons and to have the support of all of the design community who have used the collections over the years.
But in terms of the inspiration behind Vantage, I think one of those things that’s evolved is that not only has the color palettes changed, but we’ve also had the ability through Brintons support to really express fully our kind of artistic aesthetic.
For me—and I always get asked that a lot—what’s your design aesthetic? What’s your artistic aesthetic? I’m always remiss, because one of the first things I say is eclectic. I am always looking for the next inspiration. I keep eyes wide open. I think that’s kind of the sign of anyone who is really in the arts is that we’re constantly looking for things that are beautiful or inspire us or make us feel really good. So, I’ve really always been open, and I think you can see the evolution of our collections in that manner.
So that’s been fun. The Vantage is sort of in a newer vein of what we’ve been designing. In the past, if you look through some of our collections, the patterns were more graphic. If you see it and actually if you wanted to see it, you could either go on to the Brintons’ website, or on StaceyGarcia.com, there are links into our commercial site and then Brintons has a landing page that has digital versions of every brochure we’ve done. Our brochures in the past, I still love them all, which is so fun, have been very highly graphic patterns.
The last two collections, Vantage being the newest, is more of a nod to some of the texture that we’ve been seeing. I think design at least in the United States has sort of gone more sophisticated in how designers are elevating spaces. I think the guest who stays in these places and who God-willing will stay there again one day, is they’re doing their research, they’re online, they’re seeing the inspiration. They’re pitting different properties against each other. People want design as part of that experience. And so, that’s partially where the direction was in terms of texture.
But the other main driver is what we’re seeing is a macro trend. It’s interesting because it’s something that our team forecast well over two years ago. And that’s part of our process, is constantly looking at trends and design trends in color, so that we’re coming up with collections that really resonate in the market.
The macro trend that we had identified was the concept of wellness—of people really starting to focus on their well-being, putting conscious decisions into what they were eating. We saw this trend from not only the food movement-where people are eating more plant-based, we’re seeing move to organic, move to farm-to-table. All of these trends that were sort of bubbling over, they don’t just live in one area of people’s lives. And so, they do start to overflow, they do start to become important in interiors as well.
And so, we see the design community starting to look at important things for consumers, who are the people who are living in these spaces—indoor air quality, what’s the light condition? What’s the color palette? What are the materials? Making sure that the environments are healthy—to look at and to live in. And we were seeing that as an overarching trend.
So, when we created Vantage, the story behind it was what does that mean in interiors? What is that going to mean for patterning for people to be looking at wellness?
We came up with this concept of biophilic design and biomimicry. Biophilic is sort of an attraction. So, what that means, when something is biophilic, it is attracted to versus phobic, right? Where it’s a repellent. So, biophilic design is sort of the idea that human beings wired in our biology, have a wiring to be attracted toward nature.
And so, whether or not it’s a conscious thing, we’re wired to feel good when we’re in nature. We’re wired to feel more calm when we’re surrounded by nature. That was really the jumping off point of this collection, was going in and looking at organic shape, the beauty of the natural environment and taking that as inspiration for the collection.
It’s exciting because right now we’re at an interesting crossroads as the world. It’s not just something that’s hitting the Americas. As the world, we’re in the middle of this COVID pandemic, and we are sheltering in place. We are evaluating ourselves, evaluating our situation, making choices about where we spend our money. We’re very limited on where we can spend our time right now.
Stacy: It’s interesting because we do work with a cross section of manufacturers. Our company has 23 different active licensed partners, and at various stages of product development in various verticals of the market.
And I think for me, this is one of those collections that we said, wow, when you hit a trend, and no one had the crystal ball, I guess unless we’re Bill Gates. Nobody was really predicting this kind of shut down.
But to me, it is so timely, because one of the main things that people are going to be looking at as they start to redesign their hotel spaces, redesign the restaurant experience, redesign their homes, is to make sure they’re surrounding themselves with things that make them feel good. And it couldn’t have been more timely.
Robert: Yeah. I was going to say, I’m glad you touched on that because I wanted to ask you about that. I mean it has such a direct tie to wellness and health and what everybody’s focused on now.
I imagine this is really gonna resonate with designers, and but what do you think the design will look like in the years ahead as far as product design and things that you’re looking at?
You said this is a macro trend for sure. I assume that we’re going to see more of this type of product going forward?
Stacy: I believe so. This is something that I don’t think is going to slow down. I think this becomes something that gets even more prominent, is how we choose design. And it’s interesting, Leah and I were talking recently about color, the impact of the economy on color. She sort of made a cute comment where she said oh like, ‘Dear Lord, please don’t let grey become—please don’t let it all go neutral again.’
Leah: Please don’t!
Stacy: You know in 2008 when it happens and this is cyclical, when economies start to contract, people get safe on their color choices, and neutrals become a very comfortable go to because it’s not going to go in and out of style.
It’s easy to commit to a neutral. And so, we saw the emergence of gray at that time. It’s interesting because I don’t think it’s gone away. I mean we’re seeing the European markets gray has certainly moved out and evolved into taupe and things like that.
I almost think greens are going to be the new neutral. And Leah, I don’t know if you are agreeing or what you’re seeing come across your desk these days, but to me, green is a color that’s in nature. There’s millions of shades of it. It looks fabulous with gray; it looks fabulous with taupe. Looks great with neutrals. And it is kind of just a classic in terms of the palette that you can work with. So, it’s not a scary color, but it is a color very reminiscent of nature.
Leah: Yeah, I really like that idea. And just on a funny side, I remember back in the sort of 90s, we were always told to stay clear of green. Because we used to put it in a lot of bars and pubs, and it would actually make the beer look a funny color through the glass.
Stacy: Oh, that’s funny!
Leah: That was probably more of the traditional green. I agree. I think it would be great if that kind of like that nice, soft green coming through. It’s very restful. It’s a very restful color.
I also like what you said about we’ll be making a lot more conscious decisions on things moving forward. We’ll consider what we’re putting in our houses and what we’re putting in our bodies and everything.
I like to think that would actually raise the bar for everybody, that they’d want the best and they’d want more luxury. I definitely think our collaboration and this new collection will speak to that and it’ll raise the bar in the industry, because I love a good challenge.
Exactly like Stacy was saying, having our eyes wide open, I’m always looking at what everybody else is doing in the industry, whether it be from flooring to wall coverings. And I would love to get sort of the chills when you see a pattern that is has just raised that bar. And you’re like, ‘Yes, that’s what I want to do.’ I want to aspire to being that good of a designer and an artist.
Robert: Yeah, absolutely. That touches on another question I had. What do you think makes carpet collection such as the Vantage Collection successful ultimately? What are some of those elements that you think will do that?
Leah: For me, it’s really the versatility of the collection, that you can use it in large public spaces, or you can use it in corridors. There is this trend of a lot of our design clients when they’re working on a property is to actually take their lead by the location.
They build the story and the narrative around the surrounding town or city or area that that property is in to kind of like state the obvious a little bit—like the marine sector, there’s quite a lot of nice patterns in this Vantage Collection that are water based, like water ripples and bubbles, and I think they will do really well in the marine sector.
Robert: Yeah. So, do you guys envision that the Vantage Collection will have appeal outside of the hospitality market as well? It sounds like it would have kind of crossover element.
Leah: Yeah. Definitely. I can see these large, bold patterns being used in casinos, in convention spaces. Then also, we could probably bring them down into guest rooms.
Going back to this whole wellness thing that we think is going to be the trend that’s coming through, and cleanliness in hotels when hotels do reopen, we’ve seen a lot of hotels replacing the carpet in the guest rooms for hard flooring. But they always have a nice Axminster rug that’s inset under the bed, just to keep that softness and luxuriousness, if that’s even a word. Keep that luxury.
Stacy: Yeah. It also helps for sound transference, for noise transference. Part of when you look at the experience when you’re staying in a property and part of well-being with that is also controlling the sound, so that you can have a sense of rest and reprieve. It is really important to be layering the spaces with softer materials for the sound absorption.
Leah: Yeah, but I can see a lot of the designs from the collection being this amazing wow factor in the guest rooms, this focal point with the rug.
Stacy: Yeah. I’m also interested, and we’ve talked a little bit of course with our Brintons counterparts, on what makes a collection universal globally? Because we hit it out of the gates, as I said, I sort of hired to give them this United States appeal. It was this European company at the time.
We signed a deal and I was going to give them the perspective on what I thought were the trends and through the eyes of the collections that we were doing together, to really sell into the US market. But it was interesting, because each of their teams and Brintons is one of our few partners that truly has global distribution. They’re selling into almost every country into every continent.
Well, they have this great global network of distributors. Our first collection out of the gates was one of them that just had interest across the globe and sold all over. I mean sold in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the States, South America—it was just sort of this universally used collection, universally distributed and loved collection.
Interestingly, it still sells a decade later. When you infuse an updated color palette or add a custom color to something, it really could update the whole thing.
Something that’s well designed really can live a life for a very long time. So, I’m interested too, with our new collection with the Vantage Collection, to see what the appeal is on a global scale as well. Because I do think that this overarching trend of wellness is not limited only to the United States.
Leah: Yeah. I agree.
Robert: For the listeners out there that are interested in the Vantage Collection, when will it be available, or is it available now on the market?
Leah: We’ll be launching this early May of this year. We’re really, really excited about that.
Stacy: Yeah and it was one—we were supposed to, of course, a lot of the trade shows have been canceled and such, but Brintons’ team and our team together I think have done such a great job at coming together and putting a virtual launch and doing teasers.
We’re already getting questions from some of the emails that we’ve put out. People are excited to see the collections.
I think it’ll be fun to hopefully be able to lead the market and provide some new inspiration for going forward and give the design community just something of hope and something that is going to look good for a long, long time in the project that they’re working on.
Robert: Yeah, absolutely, that’s great. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to see the new Vantage Collection firsthand myself whenever that day is. But I have no doubt it’s going to be really, really well received.
Well, I think we can wrap things up here. Stacy and Leah, thanks so much again, for being here and for sharing the story behind the new Vantage Collection.
Leah: Thank you.
Stacy: Yeah, thanks so much for having us today.
Robert: Yeah, absolutely, anytime, welcome back.
Well for our listeners out there, please visit Brintons.net and StacyGarcia.com when you get a chance and keep an eye out for more on the Vantage Collection at interiorsandsources.com. Thanks, and be well everyone.
Meet our guests:
An established leader in the world of design, Stacy Garcia is a successful creative entrepreneur and founder of multiple business enterprises: LebaTex, Inc., a distinctive textile supplier and Stacy Garcia, Inc., a licensing firm and design house.
With brands like Stacy Garcia Commercial, Stacy Garcia | New York, Stacy Garcia Home, and Stay by Stacy Garcia, this internationally renowned designer and forecasting expert has partnered with some of the world’s leading manufacturers to create products that span from floor to ceiling for resorts and homes all over the world.
She was voted one of the 10 leading voices in the hospitality industry and honored by ASID for Design Excellence. Stacy has an established reputation as a preeminent forecaster of color and design trends, and is a Chairholder of Color Marketing Group, the premiere international color forecasting association. Stacy is also a dynamic public speaker with experience hosting panels, workshops and keynotes.
Stacy was featured in our April issue.
Leah Jack, currently residing in Las Vegas, joined Brintons in 2009 as a field designer and was promoted to Vice President of Design, Brintons Americas in 2017.
Leah has designed carpets in properties all over the world for top industry brands like—Marriott, Omni, Four Seasons, Caesar’s Entertainment and Boyd Gaming to name a few.
Brintons design collections piqued Leah’s interest in 2009 and catapulted her toward her role with the global Axminster giant. Around the same time, Brintons was launching their first design collection, Nouveau Boho, with Stacy Garcia. Since then Leah and Stacy Garcia have worked together on over a decade’s worth of collaborations.
Leah’s professional mantra is all about paying it forward. She’s passionate with sharing her over 25 years of experience with makers of all walks. She is constantly encouraging her team to step out of their comfort zones, stretch their creativity and sometimes break the rules along the way!
If you get the chance to meet Leah, you can’t miss her. She’s usually rocking the latest Pantone Color of the Year in her hair!