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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ‘Our customer’s want some quiet designs and patterns’

Marcy Ewing, global design director of Shaw Contract, sheds light on her experience of being a designer and how she creates ideas for new products

What’s your background and how long have you worked in the industry?

I studied textile design at college, and I’ve worked at Shaw Contract for 26 years. I began my career as a weaver, then moved to the US to work for the company, where I started working in the commercial side of the business. I’ve spent most of my career working at Shaw.

What inspired you to make the choice to move to Shaw Contract?

I moved to Atlanta in 1996 when I got married and started looking for a job, I was fortunate enough to find my first job in the shaw custom product department and then moved to the research and design department. When I was at university, Shaw Contract were regularly trying to recruit people, so I knew of the company, but I was wasn’t ready to leave New York, so I worked in Manhattan for five years and then migrated down to Georgia.

What made you become a designer?

I always loved art, it was a real love of mine in school, and I enjoyed it. When I first attended university, I wanted to do interior design, but I was given an overview of the textile industry in the first semester. It influenced me to change my course to study textiles because I had a passion to create three dimensional and textural products. I found it interesting and thought it could be a good career path.

What do you look out for when it comes to thinking of ideas?

We follow a yearly, process regarding product plans and ideation. We start midway through the year and gather customer insights and inspiration from our marketing team. From these aspects, we figure out what products are required in the market. You have to balance the desire of the customer with what we wish to develop. There’s always going to be something new to create. You must have a brief and a price point for every product and once you’ve gathered your insights and collated research, you use them as inspiration for developing creative ideas. For example, you may come up with a one-word idea such as ‘comfort,’ or ‘acoustics,’ or it could be a specific hard product or carpet. This leads you to investigate the different trends that are incorporated around the theme.

Which markets do you design for?

We have a varied market in the US, EMEA. We don’t provide as much for the healthcare sector, but we’re really focussed on the workplace, office spaces, schools, and higher education. We also cater for a small amount for hospitality but not as deep as other sectors. When I first started with Shaw Contract, I grew into the different segments and learned what’s important.

How many people are in your design team?

Kerry Deffley is our design manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa, who works in the UK. We create the products for the market sectors we cater for, I work on products that are made for the US customers, and we all work together on the portfolio for EMEA. They can also be translated over to our manufacturing facility in China where we have a replica of our US factory. Whatever we make here, we can transfer to the Chinese factory for their market, so the customer can have access to those products globally. Kerry is a vital member of our team, and she has a couple of people working with her over in Scotland so she can manage product development at our factory in Scotland.



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