Design Spectator: What Makes American Design American? by Emily Morrow Finkell

Flashing it back to a previous submission to Floor Covering Weekly “What Makes American Design American?”

Design Spectator Americana Inspired Author: Emily Morrow Finkell ……/article.html
Floor Covering Weekly – June 27, 2016. Design Spectator Americana Inspired. Emily Morrow Finkell


Have you ever thought about what makes your favorite things your “favorites”? Is it a worn pair of Levi’s blue jeans, a soft Pendleton wool blanket or maybe the beautiful timeworn hardwood floors in your home? Many of our cherished items are steeped in our history of American design.

Levis BlueJeans MontageChenille Robe

In the spirit of Miranda Priestly of “The Devil Wears Prada”, American consumers are blithely unaware that the fashions, furnishings and flooring they bring into their homes were carefully researched, designed and created to look and feel a specific way, timed perfectly for today’s American homes. There are design professionals who travel year round in search of the most fashion forward colors, the best finishes and the savviest designs to inspire Mr. or Ms. American Consumer for the magical moment they decide to go shopping for new floors?

devil wears prada

BELOW: Cerulean blue sweater by The Gap

devil wears blue prada

BELOW: The blue velvet Louis IV chair by Theodore Alexander below was a favorite at this year’s High Point market due to its classic lines.


I have been invited to countries like China and Dubai to give presentations about “American design” over the past 25 years, offering snippets about iconic design eras in the U.S., shared details about the talents of Alexa Hampton, and HGTV’s Linda Woodrum, the entrepreneurship of Ralph Lauren and Trina Turk as they created lifestyle brands. I showed photos of homes from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and more.

Speaking at The Chinese-American Design Panel discussion in Shanghai
The Great Wall of China

Ralph Lauren is the epitome of American design. From home furnishings products (shown above) to apparel, the brand captures the homegrown style of the U.S.A.

Attendees often asked me how to create American design, how to recreate the interiors they saw on TV shows like “House of Cards”, “The Good Wife” or “Modern Family”. The answer, of course, is that what makes American design American cannot be bottled or explained — it’s in our DNA, it’s who we are.


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“American lifestyle design” is best exemplified by Ralph Lauren who has nearly 300 stores around the world with tens of billions in sales. “What I do is about living,” he writes in Ralph Lauren, a profusely illustrated book celebrating his company’s 40th anniversary. “It’s about living the best life you can.”


American designers pull from all around them, either from modern trends or bygone eras, gathering elements from their travels around the world, and then knitting it together into something entirely new and exciting. The story of a new product’s design inspiration is just as important as the actual product in urging consumers to buy.
BELOW LEFT TO RIGHT – Fall 2010, Shaw Floors hosted Designer Visions Panel at New York D&D Building: Alexa Hampton, CEO Mark Hampton Design; Emily Morrow, Director of Color, Style & Design for Shaw Floors; Victor Ermoli SCAD Dean of Design; and Linda Woodrum, Interior Designer for HGTV’s Smart Home & Dream Home
New York Design Panel Oct 2010 032
Alexa Hampton, Emily Morrow Finkell, Victor Ermoli and Linda Woodrum

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