2016 Design Is…Awards Event Recap

After 10 years of recognizing design leadership, this was arguably our most inspiring pool of projects yet. Out of the 450 entries from 32 countries, half were selected for in-person judging by an esteemed group of leaders in commercial design. All entries were judged against projects in their respective market segments. After hours of passionate deliberation, 38 Market Award winners were selected. The last day of the judging event, the panel reconvened to determine a select few projects worthy of Global Award recognition.

As you can see from the pictures below, there were plenty of memorable moments at Barnsley Gardens during the three day event. Whether it was dining under the twilight of the historic ruins, sneaking a stunning first look at this year’s upcoming collections or unwinding after a long day of deliberation, there’s no doubt everyone involved wishes it lasted just a few days longer.

Later this year we will announce and feature all the Market + Global Award winning projects. Visit the Design Is…Award Judging site to read more about the event and each of this year’s judges.

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Design Thinking Is…A Field Trip!!

Last October, Shaw Commercial VP of Marketing Brenda Knowles and Shaw Contract Group designer John Crews traveled to Dalton, GA to speak with a precocious group of fourth and fifth graders at Westwood Elementary School about “design thinking.” The students sought extra inspiration for their ambitious yet imaginative mission — redesign the school media center.

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What Is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems and creation of solutions, with the intent of an improved future result. In this regard it is a form of solution-based, or solution-focused thinking – starting with a goal (a better future situation) instead of solving a specific problem. By considering both present and future conditions and parameters of the problem, alternative solutions may be explored simultaneously. – Nigel Cross, “Designerly Ways of Knowing”

Design thinking is all about creating holistic, ideal solutions for the future, instead of solving immediate problems. This solution-first approach is accomplished through an iterative process of divergent thinking that yields as many “out-of-the-box” ideas as possible and refine down to the most feasible options. That “a-ha moment” will happen as long as you adhere to Meinel and Leifel’s four principles of design thinking:

    The human rule – all design activity is ultimately social in nature
    The ambiguity rule – design thinkers must preserve ambiguity
    The re-design rule – all design is re-design
    The tangibility rule – making ideas tangible always facilitates communication

This group of gifted and talented students truly exemplified these principles, because they not only absorbed design thinking theory, but wanted to get up close and personal with design thinking in practice. Fortunately, Shaw Commercial’s headquarters at Plant 94 are only a 45 minute bus trip away!

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Design Thinking in Action

“I’m used to organizing mill tours, not field trips”, exclaimed Custom Studio Senior Design Manager Brandy Sutherland, “but I’ve never had more fun planning an event in my 12 years at Shaw!!”

Sutherland had plenty of help from Shaw Contract Group’s best and brightest to plan a full day of engaging activities to make design thinking tangible, social and most importantly, fun. First, the students revved up their imaginations with Shaw Hospitality Group designer Omoleye Adeyemi. First, Adeyemi handed each student a piece of paper with a few squiggly lines drawn across it in no particular order. She then instructed them to grab a crayon and connect the lines to draw shapes or figures that fit into whatever narrative they could imagine. Needless to say, many entertaining tales of dragons, dinosaurs and stick figures unfolded across each piece of colorful scratch paper. The creative juices flowed more freely once Adeyemi showed them how to magically swirl pigment on top of water and transfer it to paper. Check out the Noble Materials video and see if you can do any better!

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After an eventful and productive morning, the children were treated to a little lunch-and-learn in the form of pizza and our very own ColorSense video. Shaw Contract Group designer Ashley Olsen then guided her captive audience on a sensory journey through the Altered and Studio Painting collections and how they were inspired from cultural artifacts across the globe. By this point, the students were practically giddy to go on a tour of our design studio to see, feel and hear all of this design thinking happening in real time and gain a better understanding of how ideas become tangible.

The wide-eyed pupils were then handed off to Sutherland and West Coast Custom Design Manager Trish Hagedon to learn how our Custom Design Studios customize any design to fit a variety of floor plans. Like any group of 21st century youngsters, they had the most fun with our interactive Foundry Tool which enabled them to plug and play with the ideas already percolating in their young minds with a few clicks of a mouse. Senior Estimating Manager Tony Gentry even showed them how a carpet-to-fit, or seamless design concept flowing between rooms, might look on their own media center floor plan via AutoCAD. Now knowing the capabilities of our custom design team, Sutherland handed each child a paper version of their floor plan and let their imaginations fly, as long as they colored within the lines.

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“Some students came up with very colorful carpet-to-fit concepts, while others decided to assign certain patterns and color palettes to individual rooms,” said Sutherland.

What’s Next?

After a long day of design thinking, doing, drawing, coloring and playing, the Westwood students returned to Dalton with a veritable treasure chest of creative ideas to unleash upon their media center. They have already designed the furniture and dreamed up a new maker space, and keep a close eye on design trends, so the sky is the limit for bringing their collective vision to life. We’ll keep you posted on the unveiling of their media center makeover later this year!

“We are very thankful to everyone at Plant 94 for creating a very meaningful learning experience for my challenge classes!,” said Challenge Class Coordinator Martha Thomason.

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Education, innovation and community engagement are bedrock principles here at Shaw Contract Group. These events are just as much a learning experience for us, as they are for the students. Who knows, maybe one of these bright pupils will join our team in a few years and teach us a thing or two!

To find out more about our education market and how we invest in sustainable development of healthy learning environments, please visit our education page.To read more about design thinking and education visit Stanford University’s REDLab Group,Hasso Plattner Institute or Tools at Schools.

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Celebrating the Power of Public Art

The Park collection celebrates human interactions – whether quiet or communal – taking cues parks and other public spaces where we connect for a variety of personal experiences.

Public art is a critical facet of these experiences – and it’s always intriguing to see how different geographies and cities approach large scale installations.  Need some daily inspiration?  Check out Architectural Digest’s slideshow of some of the world’s most powerful public sculpture.

 

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Among these featured installations, Metamorphosis by David Černý.  This striking sculpture, pictured here,  was commissioned by the American Asset Corp. for a 200-acre corporate plot in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 14-ton artwork is made from stainless-steel layers that rotate 360 degrees, occasionally aligning to create a massive head. The sculpture even boasts its own webcam.

Some of the best things are meant to weather time, while others are intended for fleeting moments of inspiration.  Have a look at French artist Olivier Grossetête’s  The Ephemeral City – an astonishingly large installation created for the Sydney Festival taking place now in Australia. Relying on public participation to build it, construction takes place Jan.8 —28 and will all destroyed on the final day. As heart wrenching as it to know beautiful things aren’t always permanent, we can take comfort knowing that we can carry memories from these experiences for a lifetime.

 

 

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A Compelling Case for Embracing the Circular Economy

Here is a fantastic Huffington Post article which addresses the social, economic and environmental opportunities awaiting those who embrace a strategy around the Circular Economy.

We often promote the efforts of William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart – pioneers in the effort to eliminate the concept of waste and rely instead on resource-efficient processes within the design approach and operations within business. Their Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy is embedded in our corporate culture, and our products are manufactured with the end in mind.  The shifting mindset toward the Circular Economy is global, and spurs a renewed spirit for competitiveness, innovation and responsible business practice.

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Design Is a Conversation in the Park at GreenBuild 2015

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We are especially excited to not only attend GreenBuild 2015 at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center this week, but even more enamored to amplify our conversation about sustainability and material health with the design community. There are three different ways you can chime in and keep the dialogue moving forward.

We hosted our first tweet chat earlier this month, with special guest @RachelGutter (see her bio below), to give everyone an opportunity, using #shawlocalconvo, to participate in a focused conversation around material health and sustainability. During the hour and a half chat, the conversation touched on myriad topics ranging from healthy schools to educating end users on the long term benefits of choosing sustainable products; even if it costs them a little more in the short term. Based on the feedback from clients and experts alike, we will be hosting another #shawlocalconvo on Nov. 18th from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. featuring special guest tweeters from C2Ccertified and others including Shaw’s very own sustainability expert Kelly Ballew. Though this #shawlocalconvo will be centered around Cradle 2 Cradle certification driving innovation at every level of the organization, we welcome any well-timed, yet sustainability-focused, tangent from our digital audience. Look for the highlights to be posted as a Storify shortly after the event.

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As we all know, pictures are worth a thousand words, and our #shawyourpark promotion gives anyone with a smartphone and a Twitter handle a chance to turn a snapshot of your favorite local park into a few thousand dollars worth of renovations. Simply take a photo of a public space in your neighborhood, and some ideas for improving it, and tag it with #shawyourpark. One winner will be selected and receive $5,000 donation from us to make those enhancements come to life.

If you’re lucky enough to attend the GreenBuild Expo with us, then you have to stop by Booth #1305 to join us for Conversations in the Park, on The Park naturally. Here’s a list of our special guests and what they bring to the conversation:

David Gottfried

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David Gottfried will be speaking about health & wellness from 12:45-1:15 on Wednesday Nov. 18th

It’s safe to say this event wouldn’t exist without David Gottfried. As the founder of the U.S. Green Building Council and World Green Building Council, he is a human catalyst for transformation in the green building industry. Gottfried has penned three highly-acclaimed memoirs, but will be discussing his latest work Explosion Green which was published June 2014. In it, he describes how the construction and building industries have evolved toward more sustainable standards without sacrificing profitability. His irascibly infectious self-deprecating humor has earned the title three 2014 Indie Book Awards: Second Place Grand Prize for Non-fiction, Business Category, and Memoir Category.

William McDonough

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William McDonough will be speaking about the circular economy from 5-5:30 on Wednesday Nov. 18th

Much like Gottfried, William McDonough co-wrote Cradle to Cradle and launched a global movement which challenged designers to think as much about what happens at the end of a product’s life cycle as they do in the beginning. In 2012, McDonough began collaborating with Stanford University Libraries on a “living archive” of his work and communications. He has been awarded three times by the US government, and in 2014, McDonough was appointed as Chair of the Meta-Council on the Circular Economy by the World Economic Forum.

Rachel Gutter

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Rachel Gutter will be speaking about green schools from 2:30-3 p.m. on Thursday Nov. 19th

Rachel Gutter is Senior Vice President of Knowledge at the U.S. Green Building Council and Director of the Center for Green Schools. Rachel’s dynamic leadership propels the green schools movement forward; galvanizing international corporations, global institutions and government entities around a singular purpose: to put every student in a green school this generation. Under her direction, the Center for Green Schools has published over 1,000 pages of technical guides and original research and deployed more than half a million volunteers who have contributed $46 million in donated time to transform schools around the globe. Kentucky State Rep. Jim Decasere (R) and Hawaii State Rep. Chris Lee (D) will also join Rachel to share their stories about how green schools have had a positive impact in their respective communities.

We will also be hosting a cocktail hour from 4-6 p.m. after our forums to allow everyone a chance to unwind and keep the conversation, and libations, flowing. We can’t wait to see and hear from everyone attending and we’ll keep the conversation going long after the last session has ended!

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