Kim Barta, brand manager for Shaw Living, shows off the company’s new Island Fever rug during the Atlanta International Area Rug Market. Part of the Kathy Ireland Home collection in the Jardin du Jour line, Island Fever is a 100 percent olefin rug.

The wave of interest in products made and sold with the environment in mind continued at the summer Atlanta International Area Rug Market. A highlight of the July 15-18 gathering was the debut of a Green Product Showcase that let exhibitors spotlight their latest innovations. Included among hundreds of gift and home furnishing items were new high-style, environmentally friendly designs from Shaw Living and Nourison.

Even those companies that weren’t explicitly marketing their products as green acknowledged that the movement had become “the next big thing” in the industry. “Green is really big right now. It’s really trendy,” said Rob Beistline, director of sales for Milliken Carpet, which touted college sports and NFL themed area rugs at the show.  “Now we’re waiting to see if, in the area rug industry, this movement is going to last.”

Still, for many at the market, the focus on green could not be more clear. Shaw, which launched the Shaw Green Edge marketing initiative earlier this year, was a prominent example. The company’s Shaw Living division showcased the Natural Expressions and Premiere lines, which are “the first-ever cradle-to-cradle rugs in the industry,” according to Shaw Living’s brand manager, Kim Barta. “We are paying a lot of attention to ensure that our products are cradle-to-cradle recyclable.”

Other manufacturers were taking a different approach. Merida Meridian, a 27-year old, Boston-based company, was not touting the green qualities of its high-style rug collections using natural fibers. “We’re still getting our brain around what green really means,” said Abigail Reeve in sales and marketing. “Our job is to bring well-designed products to the market as safely and sustainably as possible. But we prefer to emphasize the design and innovation over any green features.”

Although designers and retailers agreed that the surge in interest in all things green is an unmistakable force in flooring, they wondered about the long term implications. “Green looks are really hot right now,” said designer Cheri Reid of Cheri Reid Interiors in Cumming, Ga., while browsing the latest designs at the Couristan exhibit. “But I’m finding that they’re really hot with a certain type of consumer.”

While pausing between meetings, J. Patrick Aaron, president of wholesale-to-the-trade retailer Floordesigns, noted that conversations in the industry have reflected a shift. “People are definitely talking about sustainability more. There is a segment of dealers that loves these types of rugs.”