At Mohawk Group, we celebrate students from The Ohio State University’s (OSU) Department of Design, who recently participated in a competition to design a conceptual carpet. This is an annual collaboration with Professor Rebekah Matheny’s introductory Interior Finish Materials course. These students learn about trends, design, and sustainability from leaders at Mohawk and then parlay that information into theoretical design concepts for a carpet that would address both sustainability and current cultural issues affecting their generation, Gen Z.

In its fourth year, this successful exchange between OSU and Mohawk provides students important learning about what is important in carpet design and what the A&D community is passionate about. Simultaneously, at Mohawk we learn about what is important to younger generations and how they see design though their Gen Z lens. This is a great cycle of exchange of knowledge and practice, allowing students access to design professionals and process, while Mohawk can leverage our extensive experience and advancements with design, sustainability, and innovation for the student’s benefit and improving their outcomes.

This year’s collaboration required the students to design a conceptual carpet product by researching cultural trends to create a vision statement and a trend visioning board that would guide their design project. From there, they had to design a functional carpet and develop construction specifications to address sustainability and manufacturing to support their position and align with Mohawk’s sustainability platform. Topics researched and explored by the students addressed fast fashion and over consumption, climate change, ethical design, and pollution from plastics to name a few. The intersection of social and environmental justice was also prevalent and important to the Gen Z perspective.

The competition had three winners, let’s take a look at their projects:

First Place Winner

First place winner, Ben Chamberlin, addressed solar power in his “Self Powered” carpet collection, that focused on the connection between nature and technology. Looking at the potential for solar power to provide energy around the world, Ben researched using end-of-life Photo Voltaic panels as a viable resource to make recycled carpet backing. The pattern and color work for the collection was also inspired by the grid system of solar panels as well as sustainable communities.

Second Place Winner

Second place winner, Fabian Perez, focused on self-expression and youth activism for his project called “Reformation”. Fabian proposed using recycled nylon as part of outreach programs in local communities and public schools to become the fiber for his collection, which was influenced by principles of social movements: power, connection, and movement. He also used vibrant color blocking and strong graphics to represent the literal association to people’s right for self-expression and inclusion.

Third Place Winner

Third place winner, MacKenna O’Hara, focused her research on the subject of post-pandemic life, looking at how we all had to rethink life’s luxuries and transform ourselves within new realities. Many people started embracing wellness and self-care, and MacKenna looked at how fashion brands like Athleta were responding to consumer’s lifestyle changes. She was also interested in the circularity of textiles, proposing using recycled fiber from end of life “athleisure” clothing. The “Transformative” carpet collection captures biophilic patterning from nature for nurturing people at home; connecting to mindfulness; and taking care of one’s body with outdoor activities.

Congrats to our three winners and to all the students who participated. Mohawk is excited to see so much amazing potential for emerging designers and to share our own design and sustainability vision with Gen Z as they design for a better future.

Royce Epstein, Mohawk Group A&D Design Director

Royce Epstein is the A&D Design Director for Mohawk Group.
As the face to A&D, Royce shares her passion and vision for design, cultural trends, and the meaning of materials in a broad context. Her role is to evolve and share Mohawk Group’s Design Vision with the A&D community, and to leverage product design with what A&D desires in the field. Constantly on the watch for new trends in all aspects of design and culture, Royce feeds this insight to all our industry’s touch points.

A veteran materials and product specialist, Royce spent two decades working in A&D firms before working with Mohawk. She was named the 2015 Designer of the Year by Interiors and Sources Magazine, and received a HiP award for Rising Star from Interior Design Magazine at Neocon 2016. Royce lives in Philadelphia where she is active in the design, art, and music scenes. She is a board member of Collab at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.