Normally, we don't see loads of innovation in the carpet industry -- how much can you really do with a bunch of thread that exists only to be stepped on? -- but Holland's Lama Concept has managed to produce something pretty fresh: Cell+LED, a carpet that doubles as a customizable wayfinding system.
That probably doesn't sound that impressive, since folks are used to seeing illuminated carpeting just about everywhere. The difference here is that Lama's lights are planted directly into the carpet. What's more, the latest version -- to be released this year -- will feature RGB LEDs, which, at the press of a button, can be customized to assume any pattern or color.
So what you end up with is a flexible series of wayfinders limited to the spot where people naturally look when they walk: the floor. It makes perfect sense for industries that need to be able to herd crowds, but not always in the same way -- airplanes, for instance. You could have one pattern that guides passengers onto the plane; another to signal when it's safe to move around the cabin; another to flash the airline's logo; still another for emergency situations; and so on.
Some might argue that turning the carpet into a sort of utilitarian light show would confuse passengers, though that's hard to imagine if the patterns and color schemes are distinct from one another. Think: No one mistakes a green traffic light for a red one.
Not surprisingly, the earliest version of Cell+LED Airbus debuted at the Paris Airshow in the business class of the hotly anticipated Airbus A350, (which isn't even scheduled to fly until 2013). The rugs have also been featured in the Land Rover concept car LRX, and incorporated into corporate, public, and residential spaces.
[Images courtesy of Lama Concept]