Q&A with Kerry Cottam, Milliken

GGARDNER-8180Kerry Cottam is a Senior Designer at Milliken. She trained in textile design at Blackburn and joined Milliken in 2011. She has worked within the flooring design industry for the past 12 years starting her career as a junior before progressing to Senior Designer after just five years. Kerry specialises in tufting design: using pre-dyed yarns which when combined and tufted create patterns and add texture to the carpet.

The design originates as a 2D surface pattern and evolves to become a textured surface. She gets bored easily – a trait she acknowledges and uses to her advantage in her work – pushing herself to constantly evolve and develop new designs. In her role as designer at Milliken she bridges many different departments and never works in isolation. Kerry thrives on constant stimuli and is passionate about music, art and design. She lives at home with her husband Gordon and Boris, a German shorthaired pointer. 


What first attracted you to flooring design?

I’ve always had a keen interest in textile and surface design and wanted the challenge of transferring this interest into creating inspiring carpet tiles to transform the floor plane, a new and exciting medium for me to explore. My expertise in textiles and surfaces drew me to Milliken where I designed their first solution-dyed collection for Europe: Nordic Stories which has since gone on to have global success. My biggest design challenge is balancing the technical aspect of how the carpet is constructed without compromising on the final visual result.


What is the most important part of design to you and where do you begin? What is your process?

I need to understand from the outset what the driving forces behind the design are; whether it be trend inspired, market driven or purely aesthetic. I work on the designs on screen before producing tufted hand samples for feedback. This process includes working with the rest of the design team, the product development department, the sales team and of course the customer, be it a design company or a corporate end-user client. The design then evolves to fulfil its objective delivering on price point, functionality, sustainability and aesthetics.

“I work on the designs on screen before producing tufted hand samples for feedback”


What influences your design?  Big and bold? Or Subtle tones?

The Milliken design team bounces ideas off each other, and although the rest of the team specialises in print design we all work collaboratively as a unit. I follow WGSN Fashion and Trend Forecasting daily and I’m always on the lookout for new trends and inspiration. Mix Global Colour is a valuable resource. From a personal perspective I favour big and bold designs, a statement design in an otherwise minimalist room. However at work I adapt my style accordingly: Nordic Stories is a beautifully simplistic collection consisting of subtle texture and a muted colour pallet, very reflective of the Nordic landscape. Per Contra is a bold, graphic, statement design, which is achieved by a limited colour pallet but with the differentiation of texture to give an edgier aesthetic.

“I favour big and bold designs, a statement design in an otherwise minimalist room”

And finally who is your current favourite designer/artist?

Too many to name but I’ve had a passion for print and pattern design from the age of 16, and this is reflected in the way that I paint for pleasure and create my own designs at work. The Art Deco movement has been hugely influential as well as Abstract Expressionism. I really admire Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock and for their bold and graphic nature, Marimekko and Orla Kiely.



About Alys Bryan

Alys' experience as a furniture designer, along with her in-depth marketing knowledge, makes her uniquely placed to work with the BCFA as the Editor of Design Insider and run her marketing business, Method Communications.
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