For 14 years, Holly Nguyen has designed commercial floor covering solutions for Milliken. Recently, she gave us insight into her creative process and advice for aspiring textile designers.
- What does ‘innovation’ mean to you?
To me, innovation means discovering something new – whether it is a novel idea, or a new way to approach and solve an existing problem.
- How do you find inspiration for new floor covering collections?
I’m always looking for new inspiration from everywhere and everything. Right now, I'm particularly inspired by nature and how processes naturally occur. I also like to examine what people see on a daily basis, but interpret it through a new perspective. Doing so allows people to connect with a space because it is innately familiar, but in a fresh way.
I also like to stay up-to-date with general textile pattern and texture trends; how certain trends are moving and the ways in which they are being used. Similarly, I like to see how culture is changing, how people are living – and how these two concepts play into one another. For example, making commercial offices more residential so that people feel more at home and comfortable at work.
- You recently won the Best of NeoCon Gold, a coveted industry award, for your modular carpet collection, Lapidus. How did you approach designing the collection?
Designing Lapidus was like solving a puzzle. The collection was originally inspired by artwork from Milliken print technologist Jonathan Rosen. Throughout this year, we have focused on bringing natural, worn surfaces to new life through floor covering, and the natural aesthetic of the painting really embodied the theme.
The challenge was to make the design appropriate for commercial spaces. We had to ask ourselves, how do we make it easy and versatile to use, yet not require product customization?
To do so, we broke the design down into components of solids and transition modular carpet tiles, and divided them into color families. You can use the solids individually or move between them using the transition tiles. You can also use the transition tiles alone. This allows designers to change the look of the floor plane without the need to customize patterns. Also, because of Milliken’s high-resolution print technology, Millitron®, the pattern matches across each modular carpet tile. Doing so lends the aesthetic of broadloom, but affords the incredible ease of maintenance of modular carpet tiles, which is ideal for commercial interiors.
- What is one aspect of designing floor covering that people wouldn't expect?
When I was in school, designing floor covering seemed like it was the least interesting aspect of textile design. The technology seemed limited. However, once I began working at Milliken, I quickly discovered that was not the case. The commercial market has also really evolved in terms of design, and people are being bolder and making a statement with their spaces. As a floor covering designer, this allows you to be more creative with the products that you design.
- What advice would you give aspiring textile designers?
There are many facets to consider when designing a textile – it has a function and must perform a purpose, but it also has to be beautiful and something that people would like to use. This applies to a myriad of textiles, too, from floor covering to table linens, and even flame-resistant fabrics.
Understand both the performance and aesthetic aspects as well as the various markets you can serve through textiles. Then, find what inspires you most, whether it is helping save lives through flame-resistant textiles or beautifying interiors with unique floor covering.
- What is your favorite part about working at Milliken?
Milliken is incredibly strong in research and development. We are always looking for future technologies. Right now, it’s an exciting time in my career because we are enhancing the technologies that we have available to create floor covering, whether it is more conventional ways or proprietary technologies that only Milliken offers.
It’s inspiring to have a myriad of technology at your fingertips. By deeply understanding each technology, we can take our ideas and apply them to the best one for the application. It makes designing floor covering fun and exciting.
Pictured above is Lapidus, an award-winning modular carpet collection designed by Holly Nguyen. Click here to explore the collection.