Carpet to Couture

Last Thursday, my firm, SHP Leading Design teamed up with Shaw Contract Group to participate in IIDA’s Ohio/Kentucky Product Runway 2011 and take home second place! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) local chapters have been running events for the past few years that urge local Architecture and Interior Design firms to team up with design product manufacturers (think wall covering, carpet, tile and solid surface) to create a fashion look out of that manufacturer’s materials. This is pretty much a rip-off of the television show Project Runway only using non-conventional materials. Click on the video above to watch our model work our winning look on the runway.

As I mentioned above, SHP teamed up with Shaw Contract Group for this year’s look. Shaw was a great partner, in my opinion, for a few specific reasons:

  • Shaw has an amazing commitment to sustainability with many of their products being Cradle to Cradle Certified
  • Shaw carries a carpet line and a resilient floor tile line which gave us many materials to work with
  • Carpet can be deconstructed into many components such as backing and raw fiber which gave us even more material formats to work with
  • Last but not least, we had some fun, supportive local Shaw reps to work with

I won’t try to tell you that we have “upcycled” anything to make our new look since, frankly, I am not sure that fashion is any sort of higher purpose than having carpet on the floor, but we did want to make sure we kept sustainability in mind with our look. As mentioned above, we started with some great materials with their own environmental story from Shaw and then we committed ourselves to not using any toxic glues on the look. While glues may have been quicker and easier, using machine and hand sewing for construction resulted in a process that was fume and headache free. Below are some photos that were taken during our dress-making process.

As you can see above, we used carpet backing to create a base dress and then used small pieces of colored paper to mock-up a pattern that would be used to attach small hand cut pieces of metallic resilient floor tile to the dress. A hole was drilled into each of the resilient tiles which allowed us to attach each piece to the base base dress using carpet fiber. Below you can see a photo from the final fitting with our model where nearly all of the metallic tiles have been attached to the dress and a coat made of finished carpet and a white, woven carpet backing material has been added. Also notice one of the legwarmers, which has been knitted out of carpet fiber!

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