Music head phones and tuner resting on a patterned carpet.

A Carpet Collection Commemorates Hip-Hop

Shaw Contract collaborates with hip-hop architect Michael Ford on a new carpet collection that channels the music genre.

Hip-hop music was born in 1973, fittingly, at a birthday party in the Bronx. DJ Kool Herc played the same vinyl record on twin turntables, toggling between them to extend the song’s percussion breaks—the most danceable sections. That technique heralded a new era of creativity and forever changed America’s cultural landscape. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this beginning, Shaw Contract has partnered with self-proclaimed “hip-hop architect” Michael Ford on a new rug collection that captures the vital rhythms of the genre.

Five patterns highlight elements of hip-hop culture, from Breakin, which pays homage to makeshift cardboard floors used by B-boy dancers, to Graffiti, which showcases the frenetic style of spray-painted tags and murals. The patterns largely evoke a mood rather than replicate iconography. “We sought to infuse the energy and vibrancy of hip-hop into these designs,” Ford says of  the collection, his first foray into product design after his recent reimagining of Herman Miller’s Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman.

“Understanding the capabilities of the machines was new to me,” Ford says of his collaboration on the Mike Ford + Shaw Contract rug collection. “Translating ideas that could then be manufactured was a process in patience.”

Mike Ford
Man holding vinyl records poses with one foot on a milk crate against a backdrop created by strips of patterned carpet and spray-painted cardboard.
Michael Ford with the new collection he designed for Shaw Contract.

Three colorways echo both layers of music and the textures of the pile underfoot. “We utilized a combination of vibrant and muted tones to mirror the dynamic contrasts often found in hip-hop, from its bold powerful beats to its introspective, poignant lyrics,” the architect explains.

A portion of the proceeds from the collection will be donated to help fund Hip Hop Architecture Camp, a program that offers students from underrepresented groups a lively and sometimes star-studded introduction to the profession. Ford launched it in 2016. He says the Shaw collaboration, paired with his advocacy, means he now has one more way to share his passion with the next generation.

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