Design Spectator: Eye on Design in Dalton

It’s no secret that today’s marketplace is not what it used to be. You don’t have to go very far to see reminders that Dalton, Georgia was known as the “Bedspread Capital of the Universe” as cited in local newspapers from 1940. Look at how far we’ve come. We’ve evolved through wartime rations of nylon and fuel, the economic uncertainty of a few recessions, and thanks to so many entrepreneurs who believe in Dalton as something “special”, it has not only survived, it has emerged as the floor covering capital of the world that it is today and is filled with some of the most innovative companies in the world and has attracted some of the greatest design talents from around the world as a result. As both a native Daltonian and former director of styling, I can’t help but feel the excitement in the air as new skus are being finalized. You can almost feel the ground vibrating with the hum of the hundreds of tufting machines as they run new greige for upcoming introductions. With most of the big named manufacturers being located within a 20 mile radius of Dalton, I am taking advantage of my insider’s knowledge and enjoying some “behind the scenes” tours to get a sense of what’s just around the bend in floor covering.

This past week I spent some time looking behind closed doors of Shaw Floors and Mohawk at what’s new and exciting in their world of design, both in carpet and hard surfaces. Naturally, I can’t talk about the exact nature of the prototypes but what I can talk about are very successful 2016 styles which are catalysts for the next round of styles. According to Nicki Rayburn, Shaw’s Director of Public Relations & Communications and Deborah Houston, Creative Director, at Shaw and industry wide, there’s been a deliberate shift towards any flooring that fits into a casual lifestyle. Nubby, chunky loops and barber-poled tweeds create visual dimensions in carpet styles like “Nautique” and “Dunes” that are also very forgiving for busy homeowners. Large scale patterns continue to move onto the scene as many consumers are opting for room size rugs that can be sourced easily in programs like Shaw’s Cut-A-Rug Collection. Based on the continuing success of Shaw’s Caress Patterns, there are even more of the well-styled ornamental geometrics. Don’t be surprised to see big dense florals that harken back to the 80’s and time-worn distressed patterns as well.

Brittney Stanley, one of Mohawk’s residential designers, stated that “although almost everyone is still all about gray, they are seeing the changes in colors happening almost instantly. Grays have become warmer and their 2016 palettes are chock full of their newest neutral called greige.” *Greige is the term used for tufted and unbacked carpet fabric.
“Greige is what we consider the perfect neutral. It is the most versatile neutral which works with gray, tan or taupe.”

EverStrand_Scupltured Touch Collage

2017 Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year – Poised Taupe
Taken from our 2017 colormix™ forecast – our commercial neutrals showcase the best of 2017, anchored by our . . . . . .

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As far as pattern trends go, Mohawk is enjoying a great deal of success with its record-breaking 2015 style “Sculptured Touch” from Aladdin and another top selling pattern “Artistic Charm” from Karastan. Each style is a tufted “linen strie” tonal pattern and the most recent launch “Artistic Charm” has owned the #1 position in sales ranking since samples went out in March or April. Beyond patterns the industry has certainly been enjoying widespread success in flecks and tweeds at all price points. The dated “spotty” flecks of the nea-shag friezes are gone and have been made to feel new and balanced with the smoother textures with near-100% space dye coverage in grays, taupes and browns. Brittney Stanley of Mohawk cited Karastan’s “Rustic Revival” and “Softly Elegant I & II” from Aladdin as perfect examples of what is selling well in this visual.

Karastan Artistic Charm
Both the Shaw and Mohawk design teams share similar approaches to market research for overarching themes and inspiration. They participate in trend forecasting organizations, in Color Marketing Group as well as attend markets and shows for inspiration. Mohawk’s Brittney Stanley said “Being able to attend Surfaces and see how well the dealers liked the new products and colors definitely made a big difference in her approach to new colors”. Typically at the end of each year, past years’ better color palettes are scrutinized, sales by color data is generated, the designers then create new trend boards according to their color families, and they pull from those color palettes throughout the coming year of development.

Shaw’s Deborah Houston said that the influence of “Urban Farmhouse design” sparked by personalities like HGTV’s Fixer Upper designer Joanna Gaines has been a very strong one. Beyond the urban farm house design influence, consumers’ are looking for ways to save their already limited time so that they can enjoy life. Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” has been on the New York Times best seller list and has been so successful that the author’s name has become a verb. People all over the country are now “Kondoe-ing” their closets due to this need to simplify and optimize how we live.

Consumers are today much more interested in and willing than in years past to take a chance on color and pattern according to Nicki Rayburn. Rayburn said they’ve witnessed online an uptick in interest in products which are both colorful and patterned. Speaking of color, it’s noteworthy that Shaw’s most recent “Colors of the Year” have been neutrals, this year being “White Hot” White hot board.rtfd . The only hint that was given about the soon to be released 2017 COTY is that it will definitely be a colorful color.

The migration in discussion from carpet to hard surface was seamless in that they all share similarly-hued color palettes which allow consumers the ability to make flooring selections that fit harmoniously into one interior effortlessly. Katie Ford, Shaw’s Hard Surface Marketing Manager walked me through 2016’s offerings in wood, vinyl, tile and laminate. The variety of visuals that I saw are a continuation of trends that, while they are not new, they are still selling well. Adjectives like “washed, distressed, rustic, industrial, and highlighted are among the words that describe each of the hard surface categories, and in vinyl, porcelain, ceramic, and laminate, the look of wood is still quite prevalent. Case in point is a porcelain tile style by Shaw named “Glee” which features an industrial “poured concrete in barn wood” aesthetic and represents a niche-look in today’s interiors. “Glee” can be installed in a herringbone pattern and includes a rhomboid shape as well as a listello trim. While it is definitely a wood look, it’s been taken one or two steps further in something new that offers homeowners something fresh while still not being too far outside their budgetary comfort zones.


There were endless iterations of barnwood, hand-scraped, reclaimed, cerused, chiseled, wire-brushed and sawn face planks in the offerings. Epic Plus includes new introductions with an innovation that alleviates the moisture issues within the builder channel with its “stabilitech core”. New styles are “Freemont Hickory”, “Ocala”, “Coral Springs and “Riverstone”. I can squint my eyes and still see a taupe influence over many of the new colors but the move towards more “natural” looks, low to zero gloss UV finishes give the look of a high-maintenance “oil-rubbed” finish, without the hardwork.

There was a great deal of excitement around one of Shaw’s newest “Floorte” vinyl introductions that is about to make a mid year appearance. “Alto Mix Plank” is an 8” x 72” format and according to Katie Ford, “Floorte’s Alto Mix Plank is all about the bevel” so much so that the marketing team is using “bevelish puns” on their samples going out this fall.

If Dalton was once a bedspread industry that turned into a carpet industry, it’s now quickly turned into a hard surfaces industry which is layered and sprinkled with carpet strategically. I believe we will always have a need for carpet and for so many wonderful reasons…it’s soft, it’s quiet, it’s a great value and it’s far more comfortable to sit on than practically anything else. I can’t wait to see the Dalton of our future generations and have hope that this very special industry is still growing, offering great careers and incomes for the families of the future.



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