Flying Carpets

The Portland Oregon Airport is changing its carpets. I suspect you’re  thinking this doesn’t seem like much of a story but it turns out that the people of Portland actually like their airport carpet (which was installed about 25 years ago). You can pursue the story  here.


And you also might not be surprised that I’ve noticed the odd commercial and institutional carpet in my time. Often you are in the situation where the carpet or the fabric on the seat in front of you is the most interesting thing in the surroundings. For example here are some airport carpets  I’ve sat with: on the left is (I believe) Philadelphia (PHL) and on the right Tokyo (NRT).


Usually the carpet designs have nothing to do with the location, but in Hawaii I noticed some attempt to have carpets and textiles with tropical plant themes.


In hotels and casinos where folks might have dramatic “spills”, the design theory is similar to the dazzle painting of ships in the First World War. This carpet was on a cruise ship and seemed to be equal parts sick-making and capable of camouflaging  any “accidents.”


At the Empress Hotel in Victoria this traditional good taste carpet design could also disguise some issues.


It is not necessary to travel far to have your attention captured by some carpet. There was a while when it seemed we were at events in the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth every couple of months. I grew particularly fond of the textile on their chairs. The carpet design in the principal meeting room reminded me of superimposed petroglyphs (rock drawings).

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In reality these designs are not THAT exciting, but when you are waiting 3 hours for your plane connection there is lots of time to examine the surroundings in detail. In the case of the Holiday Inn textiles they added some spice to the Regional Plan Review I was attending.

I’ll end with some surfaces I really do think are wonderful.  Here are high traffic corridors in the Miami Airport (MIA). One very long section of terrazzo floor is inset with brass images of sea life.  In another area where you can walk more slowly there is a poem/narrative about the geology of the area. Feels very smart when you notice and totally unobtrusive if you are not interested or dashing for a connection.


About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.