Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Empty Pockets, Happy Feet & Casino Carpet

Photo originally uploaded by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
I may be a great many things, but a gambler I am not. The only reasons I've seen the interiors of the casinos in my city were to attend fashion shows, enjoy birthday parties, or, most importantly, eat dinner. So when I went to Vegas last year, I wasn't quite sure I'd enjoy myself (I most certainly did). Fortunately, Vegas' best feature (in my opinion) is not its gambling so much as its sight-seeing. And usually, you get far more than the eyeful you expect.

This vibrant visual effect generally translates to decor as well as entertainment, people and overall ambiance. And somehow, this effect then transcends space and time to reach casinos everywhere - they're all big and loud and bright and... gaudy? That determination is subjective, but regardless, they're in a interior design class all their own.

Which brings me to our favorite design element... carpet.

Surely you've noticed the carpet in casinos - it's hard to miss. Like everything else in a casino, it's big and loud and bright and gaudy. And it has begun to attract attention.

Dr. David G. Schwartz, "gaming's leading historian," according to his own Web site, writes about, blogs on, and generally lives the gaming and gambling industry. One of his ongoing projects involves photographing casino carpet in any and all casinos, then posting the photos to his site, The Die Is Cast.

Carpet from my favorite Las Vegas Hotel & Casino - the Bellagio.
Photo courtesy of

"Casino carpet is known as an exercise in deliberate bad taste that somehow encourages people to gamble," writes Schwartz on his Web site.

"In a strange way, though, it's a sublime work of art, rivalling any expressionist canvas of the past century. Note the regal tones of Caesars Palace, the bountiful bouquet of Mandalay Place, the soft, almost abstract pointillism of Paris, all whispering, 'gamble, gamble' just out of the range of consciousness as people walk to the nearest slot machine."

An article from March 30 in the Las Vegas Review-Journal quotes both Schwartz and Mike Nolan, general manager for El Cortez, discussing the benefits of casino carpet and remunerates the reasons why it's usually so bold and patterned.

Schwartz denounces the theory that casino operators deliberately try to make casino carpet garish so people look elsewhere - toward the slot machines or the craps tables for example. Instead, he sees reason in the idea that casino carpet is needed more for camouflaging inevitable unwanted dirt and stains. Nolan says that the patterns make the casino floor - an enormous space - much more contained and much less overwhelming. He adds that in years past, casinos used linoleum to cover the floors. Yikes!

Casino carpet makes such an impact that it's even included as a category in the annual Trippies - the very best and worst of everything in Vegas. Of all the carpet in Vegas casinos, Wynn Las Vegas [see Wikipedia's Wynn entry] won the Trippie's editor's best casino carpet award for 2007. Readers agreed. The New Frontier Hotel and Casino (now extinct - see its implosion here), was voted by the editors as having the worst carpet, while readers gave that distinction to Circus Circus. Visit Vegas Tripping to see the winners (and losers) of everything in Sin City.

Regardless of where you like to gamble, from Vegas to Atlantic City, you can't get away from the carpet. Embrace it as part of the casino culture, enjoy it for its gaudiness, and love that in its inherent nature, it cushions your feet as you lose your money.

Technorati Tags: Casino Carpet, David Schwartz, Las Vegas, Casino Deli.cio.us Tags: Casino Carpet, David Schwartz, Las Vegas, Casino


Hotels Varanasi said...

In most jurisdictions worldwide, gambling is limited to persons over the age of license 18 or 21 years of age in most of the United States and 16 to 21 in most other countries where casinos are permitted

CB Whittemore said...

Hotels Varansi, you are right. Luckily there is no age 'floor' or 'ceiling' for appreciating beautiful carpet. Thanks for visiting.

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