Carpet: Right in Tune: The Music Project by Todd Bracher for Shaw Contract Group

When a prolific product designer teams up with a top manufacturer, almost anything is possible. One might even say the sky is the limit. But in the case of Brooklyn-based industrial designer Todd Bracher’s collaboration with Shaw Contract Group, it’s the floor that actually offers endless possibilities. And Bracher’s designs for The Music Project, a new modular carpet collection introduced by Shaw this NeoCon®, shows what can happen when boundaries are pushed to the max.

“I’m not a guy who likes decoration. I don’t believe in a lot of pattern,” Bracher explains. “It’s about essentialism and things that have a purpose.” He aimed to create a carpet collection that is meaningful and would resonate with people. Gleaning inspiration from music, with its universal, cross-cultural appeal, Bracher then determined how to translate music in a visual way.

According to Reesie Duncan, creative director at Shaw Contract Group, “There were no set parameters on what we wanted to design with this collection. The fact that Todd had no previous experience with carpet was even more appealing to us because he brings an outside perspective that isn’t constrained by the capabilities of the manufacturing process; he was able to push us in new directions.” That new direction involved engaging New York-based computer programmers Rui Pereira and Lucas Werthein, who wrote a program to convert music into graphics.

Bracher and Shaw settled on four musical genres: Jazz, Classical, Ambient, and Electronica. They then curated images of what these genres should look and feel like, converted these references into mood boards, and set up targets for the programmers to hit. Once output, designs were edited by Bracher and passed on to Duncan to make them production-ready.

Music-Project-Classical“The patterns are very graphic and depict a delicate line drawing. This was sometimes hard to achieve in carpet,” Duncan says. “Jazz is a graceful pattern that took a lot of finesse to achieve on a tufting machine. Ambient was the simplest, and this subtlety was the most challenging when we got to manufacturing.” The fifth pattern, Silence, is literally an empty tile, used as a background, “so you can integrate ‘nothing’ if you wanted to break up the visual audio of the collection,” Bracher notes.

With these subtle yet strong patterns, the team decided to keep color minimal and neutral. “We wanted color to be just a note through the music, nothing really loud and visible,” Bracher says, “just a highlight to accentuate and walk you through the concept in a subtle way.” The five patterns are available in seven core colorways that start with a neutral field and incorporate seven colors that add in a flash of brightness, inspired by lighting at music venues, Duncan notes.

While the technical side of realizing this collection posed a challenge to Shaw, Bracher admits that the hardest part for him was expressing himself at the carpet factory when he wasn’t familiar with the terminology. “It felt like a language barrier because it was completely unfamiliar,” he says. “It took trial and error; and through Shaw’s expertise, they were able to capture it exactly how we wanted it.” 

-- Danine Alati

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