Nora systems recently welcomed architects and designers from across North America to participate in the company’s 2011 Design Workshop at nora international headquarters in Weinheim, Germany.

Nora invited 16 architects and designers to offer their insight and expertise and to work collaboratively with the rubber flooring manufacturer to identify design trends and provide direction for product development. During the three-day event, participants applied their professional expertise to collectively propose solutions to assigned tasks.

“I look forward to this trip every year, because it brings together designers all focused on one goal,” said Andreas Mueller, president and ceo of nora North America. “Each workshop we host highlights how integral and effective the collaborative process is to design, and how it can be beneficial to both sides to help develop new products and services.”

The collaborative process is key to any new product development, but Amy Mays, sr. interior designer, Perkins+Will, New York, spoke to how nora’s workshop differed from any she previously attended. “I’ve worked with manufacturers before on developing new products, but those were circumstances where they would develop a product and ask for our reaction,” Mays noted. “With nora, they gave us goals, but really sat back and let us do our own thing. They let us share our thoughts and explore different opportunities, which got us engaged and generated the truest feedback.”

During the workshop, nora provided architects and designers with clearly defined objectives, but gave participants the freedom to decide how best to meet these goals. Pat Malick, principal at Array Healthcare Facilities Solutions, King of Prussia, Pa., thought the overall group dynamic was energetic and inspiring.

“The groups definitely provided an interesting blend of ages and experience levels, but that kept the workshop moving forward with high intensity and always kept everything in perspective,” recalled Malick. “It was very dynamic to have two groups work separately and eventually have each come up with their own versions of an idea, which actually ended up being quite similar.”

As part of the three-day workshop, participants experienced the manufacturing process first-hand. Impressed by the factory tour, Naomi Kruger, associate at Smith Group, Washington, D.C., commented, “This workshop really gave nora a personality as a manufacturer. It was easy to tell that during the tour, during the workshop, and pretty much throughout the trip, that the people from nora really cared about what we were doing in the industry and how they could support us. They really cared about how they could maximize our time together with collaboration.”

This year’s design workshop – conducted in Germany for the fifth consecutive year – focused on developing solutions for specific applications and market segments. Each participant brought sources of inspiration and spoke about the many ways colors, textures and patterns not only inspire them, but also affect end users in finished spaces.

“I’m eager to see what the end result of our design workshop ends up being,” remarked Teresa Thomas, sr. associate, Perkins+Will, Dallas. “We all ended up in a consistent direction, so now I’m interested to see what comes out of it and if it leads to something new.”

The annual architect and designer workshop is an invitation-only event that is traditionally held in Weinheim, Germany. For more information on the 2012 trip, follow the company on Twitter @noraflooring.