Commercial carpet tile. On the face of it, you don't get more pedestrian than that.
So what happens when you combine a seemingly-dull industry with an incredible brand narrative and total dedication to brand and design?
Interface APAC is what happens.
For completely non-carpet related reasons I found myself in the Sydney offices of the world's largest commercial carpet tile manufacturer, who have elevated the mundane into an art form infused with vision and vibrancy, all underpinned by a relentless commitment to their brand.
A statement in the entrance reads (although this is not verbatim):
"We know carpet tiles can't change the world, but it will inspire those who do"
Everything about their space and their product embodies this ethos - driving them to innovate in this unexpected space. That innovation isn't limited to design, although I've never been more fascinated by carpet than when browsing their blog. Their founder dedicated his life to pursuing a vision of sustainable production, experimenting with different manufacturing methods, sourcing and production. It wasn't always successful and the company had it's ups and downs, but credited its survival to the goodwill imbued in the brand through years of sustainability efforts.
An article over at GreenBiz, clearly demonstrates how the loss of their founder (and his visionary commitment to brand) in 2011 resulted in flat sales, and how a return to those values has since changed the downward spiral:
We had kind of stopped demonstrating this virtuous business value, which is creating value for our shareowners as well as our other key stakeholders, including the environment.
The result was a doubling-down on their founder's intent, if not their original mission.
In 1994 the idea of sustainable carpet production was a revolutionary one. Not so in 2014. Their new mission is to reverse climate change. Different mission, same brand intent.
It's a bold, scary statement, but one that's completely aligned with their brand personality.
Their Sydney offices in a 1890's red brick building in Surry hills are fresh, intriguing, beautiful and bold. The spaces within are bold, as are their carpets and design. Their marketing is bold.
It could very well fail.
But part of a brand story is having something to communicate, something that differentiates you from the crowd, something that makes your brand sticky in the minds of your clients and potential clients.
Without that stickiness, without that commitment to your brand narrative and its ideals you give in to blandness.
Bland carpets get walked on.
Bold carpets get talked about.