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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pounding Las Vegas Pavements

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Neon Sign originally uploaded by Neato Coolville.

Back from Vegas, with a stop in Dallas, and my feet are so grateful for some R&R. As are my knees... my back... my whole body!

I noticed something funny: what I pay attention to changes depending on which part of my body speaks and with which tone of voice.

Trade shows, especially in Las Vegas, make walking 60 or 80 NYC blocks seem like a leisurely stroll through Central Park. My first day, I delighted in the balmy air [vs. 8 degrees in NJ], the preposterous global/historical architectural reincarnations [where else but in Las Vegas can you gaze upon the Great Pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, the Canals of Venice and the Empire State Building all in one day?], and the upcoming nighttime neon display.

A long 24, 48, 72 hours later, walking back and forth through endless fields of chiming, flashing, clanging slot machines seemingly pulsating to rhythmic, primal music, my body became more inward focused..... I trudged on magnificent marble floors to get to and from our booth in the convention hall. My senses became increasingly focused on finding 'safe' zones - with subdued sounds and carpeting underfoot. I played games with myself: could I make it from one escalator to our booth through the casino floor without leaving carpet?

Our booth represented an oasis, carpeted as it was with scrumptiously dense carpet [CustomWeave's Rosewood and Horizon's Stylin' by Mohawk] made with Wear-Dated carpet fiber [naturally!] and deliciously buoyant pad. It transfused energy to my weary bones. Stepping off meant trusting energy sapping concrete. Ugh!

Las Vegas with its sumptuous display of hard surfaces [marble, granite, cobblestone reproductions at the Paris] and expansive casino floors [I wish I had worn a pedometer] led me to question [yes, selfishly, but there must be others like me out there!]: why isn't there more and denser CARPET being used in public spaces?

As gorgeous, elaborate and princely as these marble designs are, I'm always amazed at how hard they are on the user. Waiting in long lines to register or checkout from the hotel is agonizing [Vegas gives new meaning to long lines!]. Combine that with how sound reflects off of hard surfaces, and my ears were in agony, too. At least my full body was engaged!

I'm in no way suggesting that the entire world should be carpeted [although I'm willing to debate the matter], but isn't there room for more deliciously cushiony and forgiving carpet?

Look at this photo from Charmin's Pottypalooza
[for a thorough backgrounder on Pottypalooza, read Charmin Bathrooms in Times Square] back around the holidays. Notice the carpet. I stood on that carpet for a good 15 minutes. Let me tell you, it was densely padded. Charmin expected people to have to wait to use their loos, and created the most forgiving waiting environment ever using cushiony carpet, offering seating [for after-the-loo waiting] and plenty of entertainment [i.e., learn how to "Do the Dance!"].

Contrast that photo with these two from the Atlanta airport, concourse D. It used to be completely carpeted. Now, it's gorgeously glamorized, updated and redesigned with marble and granite floors. It is PAINFUL to trek these concourses [which go on forever].

On top of that consider how visually distracting these highly reflective surfaces are! Look at how the ceiling lights reflect off of the floors. Look at the columns: they continue on into the floor. People are reflected, too.

This is particularly distracting to fast and efficient airport walking. How to negotiate pedestrian traffic, walk on the right and pass on the left? With difficulty! The reflections misinform and detract from efficient and smooth manoeuvers. I lose focus with so many inconsistent messages [what looks like a person is simply a shadow].

[To illustrate my point, look at the difference between how differently the window reflects on the granite vs. the sitting area carpet.]

Ahhh. I feel much better having shared these thoughts [I'm also off my feet for the first time in 7 days]!

However, as you pound the pavement or walk around your home, office, or store, listen to the messages the flooring sends your body. Are they relaxing ones? Are they energizing ones? Or are they sources of aggravation and frustration? If so, can you moderate those to the benefit of your customers? Subject for thought, eh?

Nonetheless, it was a good trip to Las Vegas and Dallas. Why Amazing Shopping Experiences Matter was well received, with great participant feedback and comments. I'm honored that Kim Gavin -editor- and Ken Ryan -executive editor- from Floor Covering Weekly attended, too.

On top of that, Liz Calandrino from Fabulous Floors has offered to contribute perspectives to Flooring The Consumer. Very exciting!

And, in Dallas, I met John Simonson from Floor Facts! He, too, was doing a seminar. Check out these two posts -Knowing What Ingredients are in a Carpet and Flooring The Consumer- to his blog. Thanks, John!

It's great to be home!

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Anonymous said...

I'd like to say one word about this posting................Amen!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Right on about the floors in airports and other public buildings.

Reshma Bachwani said...

Your post reminded me of walking into one of the many cinema halls back home - one of the them had this particularly soft 'sink-your-feet-in' carpet and each time I stepped on it I would feel an instant sense of comfort! Retail environments tweak their elements at the 'eye-level' to make the experience meaningful to the consumer. Little attention is given to the floor - despite the fact that we spend so much time on our 'feet'. Paying more attention to the floor can be a way of drawing more attention of the consumer to the floor - i imagine my cinema experience - i always looked down at the carpet when i felt the softness of it. What if the carpet had foot prints that worked as neon signs in the dark and had an advertising messages imprinted on them. The clutter at the eye level created by either more marketing / bad flooring - can be annoying and insensitive to the consumer. Had you not spelt it out - I would not have thought about this issue. Thanks and welcome home !

CB Whittemore said...

What a relief that I'm not alone! Thanks, Ellen and Susan. Reshma, thanks for your additions, too.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

Your post reminds me of my last trip to Disneyland (last month, as I am a season ticket holder). I chose my most comfortable, cushy shoes to wear, as I knew it would be A LOT of walking around. By the end of the first day, my feet were starting to really hurt. By the end of the second day, all I wanted was to soak my feet in warm water!

I have read that Walt Disney designed his Magic Kingdom to have a different feel underfoot in each "land" you enter. This was so even your feet could tell that you were entering new territory.

I was wishing he had put some kind of rubbery surface all around, similar to what they use at playgrounds these days under the monkey bars. Soft, cushy, made of recycled tires or rubber - heavenly. I know if wouldn't wear well, but it sure would be great!

Thanks for spreading the word about all those other "hard" places to go.

CB Whittemore said...

Becky, how fascinating about Walt Disney's vision for feet in the Magic Kingdom. Makes sense. Thanks!

RennyBA said...

Never been to Vegas so thank you so much for taking us with in this very readable post. Coming from Norway, I love to read and learn about other countries and their culture and habit. Your blog really gives some interesting prospective.
Happy weekend:-)

CB Whittemore said...

Renny, Thank you for visiting and for your comments! Yours is a country I would very much like to visit, and your blog is great fun and very informative. The step by step salmon description was wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I have to comment on your entry about walking on the beautiful floors in Vegas, versus the carpeted areas. While walking thru the mall yesterday in heels, I noticed that I didn't like the sound ...click,click,click, so I searched out the carpeted areas of the store. Thinking about what I was doing, I noted that this is what I always did while shopping. I enter the store and hit the tiled floor. I immediately walk thru the various departments rather than walk the main aisle. Now, of course the main aisle offers the shortest distance between the entrance to the store and the mall, but I never found it comfortable, especially if the store was not busy. I always felt that all eyes and ears where focused on my loud shoes! I intentionally sought out the soft surface...not because I am in the business, but because it made me feel more comfortable while walking and shopping, even if it was just a piece of nubby commercial carpet!

Pittsburgh airport.....the common eating/shopping areas are tiled...makes sense for easy clean up, but the hallways in the terminals are carpeted, and it does make a difference in all areas that you noted.

Some malls in the area have carpeted hallways, much nicer to shop than those with the tiled floors. I tend to walk slower, and shop more when my feet are comfortable.

As I sit here and think, some of my favorite restaurants have carpeted floors. I like the Bravo chain, the marble floors are beautiful and fit in with the decor, but what a LOUD place to dine!

While it is not practical to carpet the bathroom area, especailly in mall bathrooms, designers should consider not using the shiny tile in the area. While I am not a peeping Tom-ette, the floor does reflect the person in the next stall!

Funny, how you really don't think about things until someone else brings them up!

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