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Lasting Impressions

Expectations and budget must be balanced in an industry in which public impression matters.


Lasting Impressions Expectations and budget must be balanced in an industry in which public impression matters. The ambiance created by the architecture and furnishings of a public space such as a hotel or restaurant must meet the expectations of an ever-increasingly refined public.Balancing expectations and budget, however, can be a difficult experience in an industry in which many items are custom-designed. All products specified for a property must meet code and maintenance requirements and wear well over time, in addition to meeting the image needs of the site.In general, low-end properties demand lower cost, less maintenance and high-durability furnishings, whereas high-end projects demand a distinctive appearance and have fewer constraints on budget, according to Bettie Carey Bragg, principal, Niles Bolton Associates, Atlanta. The firm was recently selected by Building Design and Construction magazine as one of the top 35 architectural firms in the United States.Most hoteliers expect softgoods to last four to six years; for casegoods and base seating, the expectation is eight to 10 years. Resort properties, as a rule, must replace softgoods more often because guests are in and out of the rooms all day, compared to urban or airport hotel properties, where guests usually occupy the rooms only at night. A restaurant that is open only in the evenings would have to replace softgoods less often than a high-turnover restaurant. The more durable a manufacturer can make the fabrics and furnishings, the less often they need to be replaced. Bragg mentioned durability as one of her biggest challenges when working on a design project. The budget doesnt always allow for frequent changes, so the items specified for a project must last as long as possible. Many hotels try to keep a stock of replacement fabrics on hand for emergency repairs. Designing For Public Spaces
The design process for fabric and carpet is an integral part of the overall interior design process market familiarization, concept development, client input, design development and interior architecture, Bragg said. Design and selection of the accoutrements finishes, furnishings, carpet, fabrics, art and accessories follows.The designer must maintain relationships with manufacturers of fabrics and carpets in order to select the best manufacturer for the particular project. Designs are communicated by sketch, photo or similar product. The manufacturer will then create samples, which are sent to the designer for revision and/or approval. Custom fabric and carpet samples also are often shown to the client for approval. Once the product is approved, the designer creates detailed specifications for each and every item in the project. The specifications are then turned over to a designated purchasing agent for tight budgeting and order processing.Final selections of everything are based upon their physical attributes regarding appearance, durability, maintenance, code compliance, availability and price, Bragg said.The type of project often dictates what kind of fabrics and carpets are selected. Traditional projects include Axminster, patterned and cut-pile carpets, and patterned and solid fabrics evocative of historical reference, Bragg stated. Contemporary projects generally utilize new textures, geometric and solid fabrics, and off-beat color directions.She said many contemporary and textural fabrics are sensuous to the touch; leather and simulations are popular. Avora® and Crypton® fabrics are also increasing in popularity.Avora FR is a flame-resistant polyester fiber available from KoSa, Charlotte, N.C. The flame-resistant properties are inherent, not derived from a topical finish, and will never wash or wear off. Avora FR fibers can be converted into a wide array of textile cloths from sheers to velvets for use in hotels and restaurants. KoSa claims fabrics made with its Avora fiber in addition to being flame-resistant have good ultraviolet stability, are dimensionally stable, and have high abrasion resistance and outstanding wash characteristics.Hi-Tex Inc., Farmington Hills, Mich., engineers Crypton Super Fabrics. Fibers are immersed in a patented formula (P385), which permanently encases them and offers superior performance characteristics. Fabrics including prints, jacquards and suedes repel liquid, moisture and bacteria; are breathable; and can be cleaned using plain water. Hi-Tex claims that, because the treatment becomes an integral part of the fabric, the finish properties will exist for the life of the fabric. Fabric is backed by a five-year warranty against spills, pilling or abrasion damage. Special Warranty ProgramsBASF Corp., Mount Olive, N.J., offers a comprehensive, branded nylon fiber system catering to the hospitality industry. BASFs Performance Certification program subjects all carpets made of Zeftron®, Zeftron 2000, Zeftron 2000® ZX and SAVANT to stringent performance testing and backs the carpet with the most comprehensive warranties in the industry. BASF works with carpet manufacturers such as Templeton Carpet Mills, Dalton, Ga., to ensure that carpet made with BASF fiber meets the highest quality standards (see sidebar, page 28). Stain-removal guarantees, wear and colorfast warranties, and anti-shock warranties are provided. 
In 1994, BASF created the first nylon-recycling program in the industry. The 6ix Again Program® is a closed-loop system for the recycling of Zeftron 2000 nylon. The fiber can be recycled repeatedly, and old carpet no longer must go to a landfill or incinerator. Considering that hotel carpet is replaced on average every four to six years, BASFs recycling program can eliminate millions of pounds of waste nylon from landfills.For a recent renovation of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, Calif., assisted by BASF Contract Nylon Fiber Systems, Ahwahnee property management reclaimed the old carpet for recycling. Replacement carpet, manufactured by Templeton Carpet Mills, contained BASFs nylon 6ix fibers, so it too, is recyclable. Templeton Carpet Mills: Tufting One Unique Design At A TimeTempleton Carpet Mills, the hospitality division of Mattel Carpets, is owned by Mike and Jerry Thomas. Templeton manufactures carpet primarily for hotel guest rooms, corridors and public areas, but also for golf clubs, free-standing restaurants and assisted-living facilities.Custom product is a big manufacturing challenge. Every order is different and requires some kind of modification. Tufting machinery is becoming more complex, but also more expensive. Templeton tries to find ways to take existing technology and make it fit with its business. The key is modification, says Ann Brown, vice president, operations.David Dunn, vice president, marketing, said Templetons business is almost totally customer-driven.At the size that we are, and in making our own yarn with our own in-house extrusion, we are able to be responsive to the customer, from the owner of the company down, Dunn stated.Equipment from Superba and ICBT, both based in France, is used to heat-set and twist in-house extruded yarn. For tufting carpet, Templeton uses Ringgold, Ga.-based Tapistrons hollow needle technology, as well as multi-level, cut-and-loop (MLCL) machines made by Nakagawa, Japan.
(left to right, front to back): Ann Brown, vice president, operations,Templeton; Jerry Thomas, vice president, Mattel; James R. Carlisle,vice president, operations, Mattel; David Dunn, vice president, marketing, Templeton.Templeton has moved away from yarn-dyed and piece-dyed carpets and now sells almost exclusively solution-dyed product. The solution-dyed yarn is provided by in-house extrusion or as branded fiber from BASF. Dunn said most customers require solution-dyed product in guest rooms due to its performance and durability.Tufting machinery from Tapistron allows Templeton to manufacture a style of solution-dyed carpet that evokes the look of a woven Axminster carpet. People have enjoyed the performance of solution-dyed product for both public areas and guest rooms, and Tapistron now lets them get that performance coupled with the look of a woven or printed carpet, said Dunn.Recently, Templeton has seen an increase in sales of multi-level cut-and-loop carpet. Dunn sees a trend away from 100-percent cut-pile carpet towards texture in loop or cut-and-loop styles.Templeton offers a range of in-house designs to customers, but Dunn said that almost every project involves some kind of custom work even if it requires only color changes to an existing in-house design.The company manufactures in-house strike-off samples so the designer can evaluate colors, design and texture. Five days is the typical turnaround time for carpet strike-offs. However, for Tapistron product, using NedGraphics and Xerox technologies, Templeton generates a color-calibrated CAD printout that is sent initially to the designer.If the customer requests Tapistron, we will send a CAD drawing first. We can turn CAD drawings around faster, said Dunn. Typically, three to four strike-offs are generated before the design meets the designers satisfaction.In order to be in this custom business, said Jerry Thomas, vice president, Mattel, you have to have samples woven that duplicate production. If you dont have good sample equipment, including great design staff, it would be impossible to be in the hospitality business.The typical turn-around time, from the moment the design is conceived to the time product is shipped, is anywhere from eight weeks to eight months. Customers are given a delivery date based on the availability of yarn and based on availability of machinery, said Thomas.Because the company specializes in custom product, warehouse space is limited, and Templeton operates on a make and ship basis. Product is often manufactured and shipped immediately to the customer. The sales team coordinates delivery dates with the customer to coincide with construction and installation dates.We became really serious about servicing the hospitality industry about 10 years ago, said Mike Thomas, owner, Templeton. We were moving out of the commission tufting business and had machinery that fit well with the hospitality business. Its a lot more competitive today than it was 10 years ago, but we are committed to working with our customers to create unique, custom product for any hospitality application.

September 2001