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Karastan Challenges FIT Students to Create 'New View on Traditional' Rug Designs

March 26, 2006 -By the end of Fashion Institute of Technology’s spring semester this May, one imaginative student will be a bona fide rug designer, whose concept for an area rug will join the product lineup from America’s leading manufacturer, Karastan.

New Views on Traditional, a collaborative program between FIT and Karastan, has kicked off, and it puts the challenge to 35 upper division textile and surface design majors at the acclaimed design school to create a rug that will be produced and sold by the company.

Elizabeth Miller, Karastan’s vice president of design and style, who met with the two classes that are tackling this project, explained, “We’re looking to a new generation of designers, helping to nurture their budding talents and discovering the emerging future stars of design. At the same time,” she said, “we’re hoping to tap into the wellspring of new inspiration and bring a fresh and unique perspective to the traditional and classic styles that have been Karastan’s signature for nearly 80 years.”

Students are being encouraged to research Karastan’s archives, visit local retailers, and explore textile, furniture and fashion trends as they develop their ideas for Karastan’s Axminster looms. Their concepts must factor in production of rug measuring 9-x-12 using 29 colors. They will be required to paint their final renderings in gouache for presentation on May 15 to a panel of judges comprised of faculty and industry professionals, including Miller and other Karastan marketing executives. Four finalists will be chosen, each earning prize money. The top vote-getter not only will receive a $1,500 cash award but also will see his or her design produced, joining Karastan’s assortment of top selling patterns.

“This is a phenomenal opportunity for our students,” said Deborah Hernandez, who, along with David Setlow, is course instructor for the FIT textile and surface design program. “The reality of developing a product that has commercial potential is an important experience for these youngsters. We are grateful to Karastan for its sponsorship of our program and for its vision in recognizing the future talents we are cultivating at FIT.”

According to Hernandez the program’s students are one year shy of graduation when they will receive their BFA in design and enter the work force.

Karastan is part of Mohawk Industries, a leading supplier of flooring for both residential and commercial applications. Mohawk offers a complete selection of broadloom carpet, ceramic tile, wood, stone, laminate, vinyl, rugs and other home products. These products are marketed under the premier brands in the industry, which, in addition to Karastan, include Mohawk, Ralph Lauren, Lees, Bigelow, Dal-Tile and American Olean. Mohawk’s unique merchandising and marketing assists customers in creating the consumer’s dream. Mohawk provides a premium level of service with its own trucking fleet and over 250 local distribution locations.