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A History of the Portland’s Most Beloved Rug - PDX Airport Carpet

By Chris Pentago

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How did Portland’s most beloved rug come into existence?

No other carpet in the world has ever achieved great following like the Portland Airport International carpet. You will find it on Instagram on (#pdxcarpet). On twitter there are more than three related accounts. There are many collections of socks and t-shirts which have been designed due to the inspiration of the carpet.


What makes the Portland Airport International carpet so popular?

The carpet was designed by SRG Architects in the year 1987. The big carpet brought a big change in the port of Portland. The click and clack noises which were made by people walking on the airport floor were hectic. The click and clack noises where making workers in the airport lose concentration. In order to get rid of the disturbing noises, SRG designed the carpet to make the hard airport floor a peaceful place to walk and work.

SRG Principal John Schleuning who played a crucial role in designing the carpet admits of visiting at least five airports before he settled down to solve the problem of click and clack noises in the airport. After designing the carpet, it was a great relief to the stress which was caused by the noises from the hard floor.


According to John Schleuning, the airports at the time of the design were like subways. They appeared very utilitarian. The carpet was designed with great consideration of factors such as maintenance. It makes it easy for employees when carrying out carpet cleaning. Remember for the carpet to serve well, it has to be maintained very clean or else it will cause health problems to the workers in the airport.

In the 80s earth tones such as oatmeal and think beige were standard for airport carpets. This is according to Schleuning. He recalls one of the airports he visited before designing the iconic airport using a specific colour which was aimed at blending the colour of cigarette butts which were being dropped by people at the airport.

The SRG team decided to design the carpet so that it will reflect northwest to the core. This made them to focus on blues and greens on their initial design stages. After working on the designs, they finally ended up with a pattern which corresponded to Portland’s north- south intersecting runways. The intersection can be easily seen from the control tower.

By the start of 1990, several acres of the new carpet were laid on the floor of Portland airport to welcome travellers in style. There were also several shops which were built to offer Oregon products to the travellers at affordable prices.

People have special connection to carpets. This is according to the observations which were made by Annie Linstrom, who is the spokeswoman of the airport. The installation of the carpet brought several benefits to the airport. The airport developed a new face. It made it easy for employees to concentrate and deliver more for the airport organization. Disruptions which were brought about due to the noises were eliminated forever.

The immediate community has different reactions to the installation of the carpet. The port is looking for options of recycling the carpet. One of the possible decisions the management of the airport is considering is to give out squares of the carpet as sentimental keepsake to locals. This will make the immediate community perceive the airport as part of their heritage.

According to Schleuning, people keep coming back to the airport due to the comfortable carpet installed. The carpet represents home to many people. There are some factors which the designers of the carpet kept in mind for them to come up with the most appealing rug. Some of the factors have been explained in this carpet pattern style guide by Carpestology. They include factors such as resistant to wear and tear. In the airport there are many people walking on the carpet each day. Although the carpet experiences a lot of traffic, it has stood the test of time by serving for many years. The pattern plays a great role in making the carpet stand out as well as representing the intersection of runways in the airport. There are many styles available. The designers took time to come up with the best design which works well for the international airport.

Published on Apr 06, 2016

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