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Going behind the scenes on Shaw Contract’s Shanghai Design Tour

Jan 7, 2020
  • Article by Online Contributor

It isn’t often that architects and designers get to peek into the manufacturing process behind the products that help bring their projects to life. But on a recent trip to Shanghai, a group of Aussie designers got to experience just that. 

Shaw Contract’s Shanghai Design Tour included a visit to the company’s LEED Silver Certified Nantong manufacturing facility as well as opportunities to discover its global capabilities and explore the local culture and design. ADR gets the scoop on the tour and chats to some of the designers about their experiences.

Nantong manufacturing facility

Designers toured Shaw Contract’s state-of-the-art carpet tile manufacturing plant in Nantong, China, with the capacity to produce millions of square metres of carpet each year.

They were invited to take part in a product preview session, commenting and providing feedback on products currently in development by the Shaw Contract design team.

They also visited Shaw’s LEED Gold and WELL Silver-certified Shanghai showroom.

The sights

During the trip, designers stayed at the Radisson Blu Plaza Xing Guo Hotel, a boutique hotel in the heart of the former French concession, surrounded by tree-lined streets and Art Deco buildings dating back to the 1930s.

Overlooking gardens and and historical villas from a bygone era, it was a welcoming oasis within urban Shanghai.

Keen to experience the unique culture of the city, designers explored the various architectural styles of the historic Bund. For a century, the Bund has been one of the most recognisable symbols and pride of Shanghai. The architecture along the 1.5 kilometre-stretch is a living museum of the colonial history of the 1800s and includes Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical style buildings. 

Also part of the Shaw Contract trip was a food tour to explore the varied local cuisines of Shanghai and a contemporary art and architecture tour.

What did the guests think?

Alison Barry, Greenbox Architecture

Why did you decide to take part in the Shanghai Design tour?

I was so touched when Shaw approached me to be included in this tour. Being based in Australia, and working with relatively short lead times, I knew the majority of our carpet selections would be coming out of the Chinese market. So I saw this tour as an amazing opportunity to be exposed to the capabilities of the Chinese factory, the design mentality of the team and the drivers that inspired them.

What was your favourite part of the trip?

The architectural and art tour was a standout. I loved exploring the unique and stunning concrete forms, each with their own story and cultural significance. I was lucky to go with a great bunch of people, and we all bonded quickly, so celebrating on the rooftop over Shanghai tower one evening was also pretty magical!

What did you learn about Shaw Contract’s brand or products that you didn’t know before?

I was always confident specifying Shaw’s products, as the quality, design flair and reliability of the sales representatives have always been high. And while I knew that Shaw were leaders in the sustainability field, I did not realise how much it is embedded in their design ethos, and how much they invest in research and development.

What was the most fascinating thing you learned about or saw at the LEED Silver Certified manufacturing facility in Nantong?

I was inspired by Shaw’s passion to be constantly striving for better, rather than achieving the minimum standards of the industry. This was evident in the way the team discussed their sustainability ethos, and in every decision made during the manufacturing process. Their focus on complete transparency, endless optimism for the future, and the focus on the human element of sustainability was a refreshing outlook.

Lauren Stokes, eiw Architects

Why did you decide to take part in the Shanghai Design tour?

It is always interesting and hugely beneficial to know more about the products we specify for our projects. As our office works in the commercial and education sector, we specify carpet tiles regularly. I have never been to China, so the added bonus was being able to visit and learn more about another culture.

What was your favourite part of the trip?

There were so many highlights! Overall it was probably meeting new people and experiencing Shanghai together. It was great to meet other industry professionals from Shanghai, as well as Australia and New Zealand. It was a lot of fun trying different foods and visiting some spectacular architecture in Shanghai. As an architect, travel is always a great source of inspiration and education.

What did you learn about Shaw Contract’s brand or products that you didn’t know before?

I learnt a lot about Shaw’s commitment to a sustainable future. All of their commercial carpet manufacturing facilities worldwide are carbon neutral. They also collect and recycle post-consumer carpet, which for me is a significant value-added service, that is no cost to the customer.

What was the most fascinating thing you learned about or saw at the LEED Silver Certified manufacturing facility in Nantong?

It was very interesting to see the machinery and workers in action. The employees work in an amazing work environment. It is impeccably neat and clean, they get a delicious lunch provided and are even picked up and dropped off to and from work! Shaw is committed to both a sustainable future and to the wellbeing of their employees.

To find out more about Shaw Contract visit: https://www.shawcontract.com/en-au/

Photography supplied by Shaw Contract.

Shaw Contract is an ADR content partner

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