In Review: Shaw Contract’s Inside Shapes Collection

No longer bound to the standard square tile, Shaw Contract’s Inside Shapes Collection allows designers the opportunity to give an additional dimension to a commercial environment’s character and ambience. For our review, we invited designers Dragana Cemalovic from Bluehaus Group, and Wassim Jammal from JPA Design, to Shaw Contract’s brand new showroom in d3, where Samatha Dawe, Marketing Manager EMEA, gave us an introduction to the product, followed by a bit of play and experimentation. Here are our thoughts…

The Review Crew

Above from Left: Samantha Dawe, Marketing Manager EMEA, Wassim Jammal, Design Manager at JPA, and Dragana Cemalovic, Associate Designer at Bluehaus Group

Shaw Contract’s latest collection, Inside Shapes, appeals to not only the creative designer in us, but also our need for a more human-centered, dynamic approach to flooring design. A first time collaboration with Stockholm based design studio, Form Us With Love, the new Inside Shapes collection offers an opportunity to re-think the way carpets are approached. Moreover, it offers a creative toolkit to bring that thinking out in the open.

Re-inventing the Square Tile

As Reesie Duncan, VP of Product Design for Shaw Contract, so rightly puts it, “Inside Shapes is a genuinely groundbreaking product that has deep layers of design thinking at play. It’s the result of a very considered and intentional method of working, with different talents to constantly innovate.”

Reinventing the square tile is what Samantha believes they are doing with Inside Shapes. This comes as no surprise, given the leading flooring manufacturer’s history of taking charge with new initiatives, being one of the first companies to embrace the cradle-to-cradle philosophy.

A change from the traditional way of designing in house, Inside Shapes is the result of a collaboration with Swedish Design firm Form Us With Love and Shaw Contract’s creative team in the US. It is a synergy of both companies’ design thinking approach to creating beautiful environments.

“They basically took a good look at the square tile and asked themselves what a reinvented carpet tile would look like,” says Samantha. The collection is meant to be used as a toolkit, with applications that can go beyond zoning and wayfinding. “I personally feel it works well in education spaces, as it can be used to tell a story and really bring these spaces to life, plus the fact that it is hard wearing,” she says.

Aesthetics and Functionality

You can tell the collection is influenced by Swedish design, with its clean lines, uniformity and consistency, and play on light and dark. The available colours sit in a light pastel spectrum, maintaining that Swedish simplicity. We see the toolkit as an idea starter, inspiring designers to think of creative ways to mix and match the different shapes and colours to create unique combinations.

Available in four shapes, 12 colours, and 17 premixes, the possibilities are endless. We questioned Dragana and Waseem on the possibility of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and possibilities, to which they both replied, “It’s a nice challenge. This is going to be fun!”

You can shape them however you want, and even opt for a custom shape or size, if the order is large enough. Interestingly enough, the carpet tiles can even work as stand alone designs. We wondered how they would stay in place, to which Samantha explained that each carpet tile can be adhered with a normal carpet tackifier which makes it stick to the floor, and prevents the tile from moving around

To facilitate creativity with the Inside Shapes toolkit, an online tool called the Inside Shapes Design Tool is available to anyone wanting to try their hand at designing a flooring pattern. You can start from scratch, or use one of the many pre-mixes available.

Waseem: It’s a new concept, and I’d love to play around and figure out where and what I can design with it. I definitely see it being used in areas that involve a lot of kids moving around. It can really bring the space to life. But we also need to consider the backing, and if it’s soft enough. The way it can stand alone is certainly amazing though.

From a hospitality project perspective, it ticks most of the boxes. I do wish it had more colours though. But I personally love it, and believe it could even be the main feature in a space, with furniture designed around it.  

Dragana: It’s very Bauhaus inspired, which I absolutely love. The pastel colours are trendy, and I can use it to create that playful yet corporate feel. It’s flexible enough to be used in a variety of spaces. I’d love to highlight the room with a wall-to-wall carpet designed with this collection. 

I do like how it’s seamless when placed together, and I’m excited at the prospect of being able to play around with the shapes and collection to create my own versions. I would like to have an underlay, though.

The Sustainability Angle

Being a part of Shaw Contract means belonging to their Cradle to Cradle program. Inside Shapes is Cradle to Cradle Certified(™) Silver. The tiles are made of eco solution Q® nylon, a 100 percent recyclable, exceptionally strong fibre. Further reinforcing the green value is its secondary EcoWorx® backing. Meaning, each tile comes with an environmental guarantee for reclamation and recycling. Every EcoWorx® tile is printed with a number on the back to facilitate the return of the product at the end of its useful life at no cost to the customer.

Final Thoughts

We love this new toolkit for flooring design, and are super excited to see the possibilities that emerge from it. While priced slightly higher than average, it’s a tiny trade-off for the design flexibility that it offers, and the quality and sustainability attached. Moreover, the very fact that it breaks the age old square tile tradition, and opens another world of carpet design is truly groundbreaking, leaving their competition far behind.

Waseem: Inside Shapes is a designer’s playground. The price is mid to upper range, which works given the value. I’m looking forward to seeing more shapes though, which I really think would add greatly to their design offering. 

Dragana: The product is trendy and in line with the look and feel that corporate environments are going for now. The price is justified given how they’ve re-imagined our use of the carpet tile. The designs that come from this are going to be fun!

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