New HOK-Mannington Carpet and Rubber Tile Has a Broad Spectrum of Uses

Drawing inspiration from our world’s building blocks, a new HOK-Mannington Commercial collaboration remixes element and sound to once again demonstrate the link between logic and creativity.

HOK Chicago Design Director Tom Polucci and Natalie Banaszak know a thing or three about product design. Their most recent product collaboration — Mannington Spectrum carpet and rubber tile — is the third flooring product they have designed together since 2005 and was the first “official” product launched under the HOK Product Design, LLC, banner. Polucci sits on HOK Product Design’s Advisory Board.

Suitable for most commercial projects, the stylish, high-performance Spectrum Collection features two carpet tile patterns and three rubber flooring styles. The carpet and rubber colorways are carefully coordinated so they can be used together in a space. Each is available in neutral and bright colors.

The collection won a 2009 Interiors & Sources Readers Choice Award, and both the carpet and tile products earned top honors in the 2010 National Floor Trends Styling Excellence Awards.

As a modular carpet tile with a six-foot repeat, Elemental Spectrum is available in 30 colorways, from neutral to bold, and three patterns.

“Tom and I fell in love with the idea of a visible spectrum while doing research on the Internet,” says Banaszak, describing the inspiration for Elemental Spectrum. “We found images of spectrograph readings of elements on the periodic table like carbon, hydrogen, iron and zinc — the basic building blocks of our world. Each element has its own unique spectrograph output in terms of its composition and how that translates into wavelengths of color. Our design transposes those outputs onto different color backgrounds.”

Elemental Spectrum, which is a CRI Green Label Plus certified carpet tile,  has several sustainable characteristics and can be reclaimed through Mannington’s Commercial’s LOOP™ carpet reclamation program.

“The flexibility of the collection means it will work well in various locations,” says Steven Gale, a contract sales manager in Victoria Carpets’ Contracts Division. “Hardwearing, easy to clean, impermeable, stylish and considerate to the environment – what more could you want?”

Audio Spectra is a premium rubber flooring tile in a rectangular, 12 x 24-inch format that is available in 15 neutral and bright colors and three patterns. The tile design emerged from the pair’s exploration of other types of spectra.

“We downloaded an audio spectrograph, hooked up a microphone and started playing with it,” says Banaszak. “We played different sounds and had people speak into it to create graph-like readings. The design comes from transposing a linear pattern on top of the audio spectrographs.”

The final design of Audio Spectra included “Hola,” which came from an HOK Chicago colleague saying hello in Spanish; “Tic-Toc,” a regularly spaced linear pattern reflecting the sound of a metronome; and “Silence,” which is based on no sound moving through the audio spectrograph and thus has no pattern. Each can be used alone or in combination, as well as with the modular carpet.

The collection provides an exceptional value in the current economic climate. “We were able to do something that is extremely graphic and that puts a lot of punch on the floor for a product that typically would be fairly bland at this price point,” notes Polucci. “It is incredibly cost effective.”

Polucci and Banaszak have forged a long-term relationship with Natalie Jones, Mannington’s vice president of commercial brand development and creative product. They previously worked with her on a product for Lees Carpets, as well as on the Create hard surface collection with Mannington.

“We have a great relationship with Natalie and love partnering with Mannington,” says Polucci. “They are looking for the most creative solutions possible within their business model. Learning about the technology and processes required to make carpet has been very enlightening. And they are one of the few companies offering a full range of products for soft and hard flooring units. It’s a great one-stop shop.”

After more than five years of working together, Polucci and Banaszak have formed an excellent collaborative relationship. “It has been so nice to extend our design collaboration from projects into products,” says Polucci. “The way Natalie and I work together has melded beautifully into product design.”

Banaszak says she is enjoying the change of pace that comes with designing products. “It’s nice to step outside of what we usually do as designers of the built environment to create something that can have so many different applications.”

Polucci believes there is vast potential in product design for HOK’s designers. “Designing products is a different way to express ourselves,” he says. “The process involves fewer people and moves much faster. Yet it’s also related to what we’re accustomed to doing. We can’t just make a sketch and send it to a manufacturer to build. It takes the same level of commitment that we make to deliver excellent service and design for our projects. But it is good work and the kind of work we are used to doing. The end result still is that we have made something new.”

HOK Product Design’s royalty-sharing program offers HOK designers potentially lucrative financial incentives, adds Polucci. “A good product could pay dividends to the designer for years to come.”

Learn more about Mannington Carpet Tiles.