Talking to...Tom Polucci and Natalie Johnson for Lees Carpets
Staff -- Interior Design, 8/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Crossovers between design and fine art often produce intriguing results. Now, Lees Carpets is drawing on another discipline: fashion. This flooring manufacturer's Menswear collection is the work of a duo from HOK in Chicago. (Tom Polucci is vice president and interior design director; Natalie Johnson is an interior designer.) They based their tufted, multilevel tip-sheared designs on the essentials of men's clothing. Shirt is a classic stripe, Tie a large-scale diagonal, Sweater a modified herringbone, and Jacket a tailored, small-scale texture. Polucci and Johnson tell us more.
Is this your first carpet collection?
TP: It's our first full collection. We were previously involved in generating the color palette for another Lees product, Artlink.
What's your take on interdisciplinary design influences?
TP: We think it's great. After all, good design is good design, and the market responds accordingly.
NJ: Michael Graves at Target, for example—he's an architect who's designing products for consumers, resulting in a whole new market that's aware of good design.
And the fashion effect?
TP: We looked a lot at Ermenegildo Zegna, Giorgio Armani, and Paul Smith, to name a few.
Why menswear and not women's?
NJ: We took a shopping trip along Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and we loved the tailored, classic, and refined men's collections for fall 2005. Plus, nothing beats a bespoke suit from Savile Row.
Some things that look good on people don't work on the floor.
TP: We sketched pattern ideas, then moved those sketches into 3-D to create "rooms" in HOK's technology. That allowed us to gain a good understanding of what an idea could look like.
Was anything challenging?
NJ: Traditionally, color can be the greatest challenge, but Lees created photo-quality prints of the carpet designs, so we could test different colors quickly and make the appropriate changes.
How did you ultimately select your colors?
They were inspired by the seasonal changes in fashion: vibrant colors in spring and summer, cooler ones in winter, earth tones for fall. Then, once we had samples from the mill, we were able to pull fabric, wood veneer, stone, and other materials to see how they coordinated. We explored the versatility of the individual colorways.
What's the eco factor for this line?
TP: The backing on Menswear will be Lees ICT-RC, which has 35 percent postindustrial recycled content. The carpet itself is made with Antron Legacy, the only Environmentally Preferable Product–certified nylon, and Lees Duracolor, which allows stains to be cleaned with water rather than caustic agents that end up in the sewer system. Finally, everything in the collection is designed for durability. Keeping product on the floor longer is a sustainable practice in itself.