Lichen: Genius + Courage to Create Better Commercial Flooring
Mohawk Group participated in the 2017 Living Future UnConference in Seattle, an annual convention organized by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). The week was a truly meaningful and memorable sustainability immersion experience with a diverse group of sustainability leaders from across the industry.
The Living Future UnConference is a humbling experience as a platform for sharing stimulating ideas that are worthy of consideration and action. The theme for this year’s conference was Genius and Courage, very relevant to our times with the unprecedented challenges we face in our quest to create a socially just and ecologically restorative environment for generations to come. The extraordinary learning and networking formats that lead to innovative strategies and cutting-edge technical information makes the Living Future UnConference a remarkable event. George Bandy, our VP of sustainability, delivered an excellent message through his master session, “Genius and Courage of a Dream.” Through personal insights and experiences, he displayed an understanding of the imbedded genius of systematic thinking and visionary leadership, sharing examples of the challenges of apathy in sustainability that have been solved by courage.
This UnConference was a very special one for Mohawk Group as we became the first manufacturer in the flooring industry to receive Living Product Challenge Petal certification for our new Lichen Collection through ILFI.
To design our first living product, it made sense that we reached out to Jason McLennan, founder of the Living Product Challenge (LPC). To translate the design into commercial carpet tile, he worked with our product design team to take a close look at beautiful multi-hued, multi-textured lichens to create the basis for the collection. The team did an incredible job integrating biophilic design into this striking new collection. When you engage with these Lichen planks, you begin to feel like you have left the built environment.
As a part of the LPC certification, Lichen was third-party verified to be non-toxic and net positive for water, specifically, through a special partnership with an Atlanta institution. Mohawk Group worked with Morehouse College to create positive water handprints, donating low-flow shower heads for buildings throughout the school’s campus. In contrast to an environmental footprint, we call this a “handprint,” where we leave a positive impact on the world around us instead of taking from it.
This product is a perfect harmony between sustainability and design, and the story does not end there. You can read more about Lichen here.
The entire process from start to finish certainly seemed to echo the theme of the conference rather fittingly. A couple of years ago when we ventured into the path of transparency through Declare labels, it was a stepping stone towards a longer journey that requires trust and commitment. As we continue to believe in better by now taking the next step through the Living Product Challenge, we must admit it takes a lot of genius and courage—courage to analyze and figure out what is “less harmful” and genius to be able to “do more good” that is good for everyone.
We couldn’t have achieved LPC Petal certification without being courageous enough to push boundaries in the industry, ask hard questions and refuse to back down from any challenges we faced along the way. It’s why we believe in better commercial flooring at Mohawk Group, and why sustainability in the built environment is at the heart of our core values.
Rami Vagal, Sustainability Manager at Mohawk Group, is a multi-disciplinary professional with a comprehensive understanding of sustainability, anchored with professional experience in architecture and construction management. Rami leads Mohawk’s internal sustainability council and coordinates with project teams of several initiatives implemented within the company, working closely with colleagues in sales, marketing and business development. She also represents the company on the Health Product Declaration Collaborative Technical Sub-Group. Before coming to Mohawk, Rami worked as an architect and sustainability consultant on projects in India and the USA. In her experience, she has been responsible for the management and coordination of several LEED certification projects and Living Building Challenge projects. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Sir J J College of Architecture (Mumbai) and a master’s degree in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology.