Designers and Shaw staff at the Visions retreat in Dalton, Ga.

Shaw separated designers by region and asked them to create collages of regional color trends based on their experiences. These collages will be used by Shaw in creating future products. Pictured is the Southern California regional team.

Shaw recently invited about 25 designers from around the country to its 5th annual Visions Designer Retreat at its headquarters in Dalton, Ga. The two-day event included workshops, discussion, and a presentation of upcoming design trends. Designers on hand were also asked to complete design boards showing regional color trends, which will be used by Shaw in creating future products.

The crowd was a mix of designers young and old, ranging in experience from seasoned veterans to novices eager to learn. Emily Morrow, Shaw’s director of color, design and style, said the event was a homecoming of sorts, where designers could bond with old friends and share new ideas. But she was also perfectly clear that the event was invaluable to Shaw’s research and development team. “We’re not looking for kudos,” she told the assembled designers at one point when they broke into applause following a presentation on Shaw’s Green Edge sustainability program. “We’re looking for feedback.”

And feedback they gave. Even seasoned designers were surprised at some of the results of the meeting. Commenting on the sharp differences in color and texture from region to region, at least one designer called the event “eye-opening.”

“It’s startling to see the degree of difference from region to region,” said Jamila London, specification manager for Courtney Ford Design in San Diego. “Also, the fact that pink and purple are re-emerging in home furnishings has knocked me for a loop,” she added. “Pink especially is a very feminine color and it’s amazing the ways in which it’s becoming more elegant again.”

C. Foster Owen, vp and manager of Clifton’s Fine Flooring in Dallas, said he was also surprised by the accelerating changes from region to region. He added that attending the event for the past five years has not only armed him with useful information on color trends, but remains a point of personal and professional pride.

“I feel like part of the research and development family,” he beamed. “I can tell my customers that I work with R&D for Shaw. They admire the fact that one of my major vendors looks to me and other designers for information. It impresses them, knowing that such a big company looks to us for inspiration.”

Shaw also gave a sneak peek of its national consumer print and television campaigns for the fall at the retreat. The “I want a floor that …” tagline will be featured in new environmentally themed ads that are slated to run in major shelter publications and on home- and lifestyle-themed cable networks. According to Reggie Newton, Shaw’s vp marketing, new POP materials and signage detailing Shaw’s environmental efforts will be made available to dealers.

“The onus is on us to clearly define cradle-to-cradle, and let consumers know that it’s as simple and profound as renewing products over and over again,” he said.

At the end of the second night, the retreat closed out with a dinner meeting and farewell reception under the stars. Speaking to NFT while designers and colleagues danced the night away, Shaw president Randy Merritt said the retreat was a great way for Shaw to explore the latest design trends while creating deeper relationships with its clients.

“These people work with consumers everyday and they know what they want,” Merritt explained. “Events like this put a human face on the product.”