Mohawk sets new design, business standards

December 27, 2016

Mill’s Light Lab and Pilot Plant increase collaboration, efficiency and sustainable building initiatives

Winter 2016

By Sarah Bousquet

Light Lab’s 360-degree views of natural landscapes enhance its use of biophilic design.

Light Lab’s 360-degree views of natural landscapes enhance its use of biophilic design.

As the importance of environmental stewardship strengthens, more mills continue to innovate not only the sustainability of their products and processes, but also their own building practices. Case in point, Mohawk Group’s recent design studio renovation dubbed the Light Lab — which was awarded Petal Certification from the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI’s) Living Building Challenge 2.1.

Mohawk recently celebrated the facility’s grand opening on site in Dalton, Ga., with several of its project partners, including ILFI, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Makervillage and Elm Street Elementary, Teknion (furniture) and Ecos (paint).

“We had a vision three years ago to see this group gathered to welcome us into our new space,” said Jackie Dettmar, vice president of product development and design for Mohawk Group, and Light Lab project lead. “Being here today with all of you speaks to what we want Light Lab to be used for — a collaborative space to share with partners, clients, students and other industry leaders to better understand sustainability and what our future communities can look like.”

Michel Vermette, president, Mohawk Commercial, seconded the company’s mission in Light Lab has always been to advance its own commitment to a sustainable, healthy future, but also to continue learning and educating others on green building opportunities. “Not many people in this industry are doing these types of projects themselves,” he said. “We all provide green products, but we wanted to actually walk in the footsteps of our customers. We learned a lot and are excited to be the first in the state of Georgia, as well as the first building product manufacturer, to receive Petal Certification.”



Light Lab recently celebrated its Grand Opening in Dalton, Ga.

The 33,000-square-foot Light Lab is a midcentury modern building that features 360 degree views of landscape and natural vistas. Built in the early 1960s as the headquarters for World Carpet, the building has been used most recently as a showroom space for Mohawk Flooring North America residential products.

Today the building is home to all of Mohawk Group’s commercial and hospitality product design teams. Students from SCAD provided the conceptual design of the interior renovation, positioning the space as: “A prismatic laboratory of creation where reflection ignites experimentation, where imagination drives innovation and where collaboration is inherent, to inspire the greatest flooring products in the world.”

SCAD graduate and project manager, Bradley Odom, said, “The building’s shape was the perfect opportunity for design to be a central hub for everyone to engage. My thoughts were this purposeful collaborative feeling would influence company culture.”


Light Lab’s shape and open-air layout put collaboration and design at the center of Mohawk Group’s culture.

Features ranging from the use of biophilic design to open-air concept tables and mobile project boards completed that vision, while satisfying the Living Building Challenge requirements for site, health, materials, equity and beauty Petals.

“It’s amazing to see commitment manifest itself in bricks and mortar on a project like this,” said Jason McLennan, founder of ILFI. “Mohawk has been a great partner and we are delighted the company is walking the walk with its products, but now also in its facilities as well. We are very proud of what this entire group has done and are thrilled to have been a part of it.”

Amanda Sturgeon, chief executive officer, ILFI, also praised Mohawk Group and partners for their achievement, noting how difficult a task Petal Certification actually is. “We all knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but Mohawk has been a huge supporter of transparency and had its eyes wide open to what that takes on the product side for some time. We’re happy to say this was a learning curve for everyone, and today we celebrate Light Lab as a benchmark for other renovation projects.”


Light Lab is not the only new facility taking Mohawk Group to new heights. In spring of 2015, the company decided to expand its design and sample capabilities by creating a Pilot Plant in an unused section of its mill in Dalton. Today, the “sample mill” functions as a one-stop-shop, housing everything on the commercial and hospitality sides.

“Mohawk is not afraid to invest in new technology,” said Tim Hiner, director of product development operations. “With this, our Pilot Plant allows us to have everything under one roof, which makes business sense but also cuts down on waste and increases our efficiencies.”

The plant provides time and cost savings, but is also a more sustainable approach. New sample technology used within the plant provides precise raw material inputs for sampling and mitigating waste, while also increasing the speed of production. The sample mill also recycles all yarn waste and cardboard.

Aside from making sampling simpler and more sustainable, the Pilot Plant offers huge opportunity for new product design and custom projects. “We can now fully collaborate with customers and partners on site,” Hiner explained. “We now design at the Light Lab and create real-time sample outputs here. The design of it all naturally expands on ideas and breeds collaboration and evolution.”

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