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How Designers Are Using Carpet to Create Safety and Wellness Spaces

This year, designers are under more pressure than ever to create beautiful spaces that solve the critical health challenges of healthcare, hospitality and corporate environments. The products that designers specify must be considered for their ability to contribute to social distancing, cleanability, safety and wellness- both physical and mental.

One of the most powerful tools that designers have at their disposal is to custom design a carpet that accomplishes multiple objectives for a specific area of a space. Carpet is oftentimes one of the largest (in terms of square footage) items designers need to specify in a space, and it can have one of the biggest impacts on personal safety.  A custom designed carpet offers virtually unlimited color, pattern and texture options, which can be balanced to meet the unique needs of the facility.

In 2020, designers are using carpet to create innovative wayfinding techniques, designate safe spaces, and provide instruction. These tactics are being implemented in an innovative and creative way to put individual health and safety first.

Carpet As A Wayfinding Tool

In our current era, almost no grocery trip is complete without the bold signs that stick out from the aisles and point you in which direction to walk, or where to wait in line. These signs are part of a strategy called wayfinding, which utilizes signage, color and imagery to direct patrons within a space.

Wayfinding in virtually every commercial sector has been critical to keeping people socially distant, while controlling the flow of foot traffic. As Floor Covering Weekly reports, “wayfinding has long been important to commercial design — helping guide people efficiently throughout a space be it retail, corporate, hospitality, education or healthcare — but today it takes on new meaning with social distancing in public spaces a must due to COVID-19.”

Providing Directions for Traffic

In commercial settings, designers are utilizing carpet to direct traffic flow in a high-styled, aesthetically pleasing way. This is useful as a way to prevent individuals from regularly coming face-to-face with one another in order to reduce the chance for viral spread. For example, a commercial office might include arrow designs on the carpet that all point in the same direction through a room or down a corridor. Employees are encouraged to follow the arrows on the ground as they navigate through the space. Ideally, this reduces the chances for face-to-face interaction or for employees to congregate in one area.

Another way carpet is being used as a wayfinding tool is by creating visual “paths” with distinct colors. These paths indicate that patrons can safely walk through a certain area, and can divert foot traffic around where others are sitting for longer periods of time. A wayfinding path might direct employees to walk around a community desk area, rather than directly through it. Think of this option as an adaptation of the “red carpet” at entertainment events, which keeps celebrities safely away from the crows of paparazzi and fans. 

In hospitality spaces, wayfinding can be used to direct guests to and from common services while emphasizing crowd control. Guests entering a building can follow a specific pathway to the check-in desk and then to the elevators, while guests leaving the building can follow a separate path that is at least 6 feet apart from those guests coming in. Wayfinding paths can also be used to usher families or small groups to separate seating areas away from doorways, to reduce the number of individuals gathering at the front of a facility.

Including wayfinding techniques into your flooring design is an option available with custom carpet, which allows designers to incorporate a unique color or pattern to suit the needs of any space.

Carpet For Zoning Safe Spaces

With Covid-19, facility managers have had to completely rethink and reorganize the layout of their buildings. This is especially true for companies with open office floor plans, where few physical dividers had existed between employees.

Now, many workplace environments are transitioning to clearly marked “zones” where employees can safely sit, work and social distance. This means separating desks by at least 6 feet apart, and working to re-designate the individual workspace as its own separate area from other people. One way to do this is to implement visual cues on a carpet that clearly shows individuals where they need to stand in order to remain at a safe distance.

For example, the carpet in a shared employee work area might have a pattern of 12” x 12” foot squares to delineate where desks should be positioned. This helps both facility managers to set up workstations to be 6 feet apart, and helps employees to remember to not cross into one another’s individual safe zones.

Carpet color and pattern can also denote which facilities are in use for individuals versus groups. For example, a bold, patterned carpet can be used in conference rooms to signify that small groups may gather there up to a certain number of people. Alternatively, solid-colored carpet can denote that group gatherings are prohibited in a certain space. By providing a visual cue as to where employees can safely sit or stand, you are also ensuring a space doesn’t reach capacity for individual health.

Providing Instruction

Many designers are using the idea of color coding as a way to visually instruct individuals on how to behave within a space. For example, an office might include the following plan to explain to employees where in the office masks are required:

  • Yellow carpet (used in private offices with doors) = masks are not required
  • Green carpet (used in public conference rooms and lounge areas) = masks are required

A hospitality facility might utilize a similar plan for guest behavior:

  • Beige carpet (used in private rooms with doors and the hotel dining room) = masks are not required
  • Dark blue carpet (used in the hotel lobby and lounge areas) = masks are required

One of the primary benefits of utilizing carpet for wayfinding and instructional purposes is that it is a more subtle and friendly way to direct movement within a space. This can feel less obtrusive or demanding than signage, and may even make a commercial space look and feel more interesting! Many designers have success utilizing branded colors in their wayfinding designs to reflect the school spirit of a university, a hotel’s connection to the local community, or the corporate brand colors for an office headquarters.

Selecting A Carpet With Safety in Mind

In many ways, carpet directly impacts the safety and wellness of individuals in a commercial space. It can be used as an effective tool in combating the spread of Covid-19 through wayfinding, zoning and providing instruction.

With all of these considerations in mind, many designers specify a custom carpet to meet the unique color and pattern needs of an environment. For information and assistance on creating a custom designed carpet with Zeftron nylon’s 120 unique color offerings, please contact Tim Blount at timothy.blount@shawinc.com

For more information on carpet’s ability to contribute to safety, check out our recent blog posts on indoor air quality and reducing slips and falls in commercial settings.


We’d love to see how you’re using carpet to enhance wellness. Share your photos and stories with us by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

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