Enter the durable nylon wonderland of Carpets for Airports

Barry Neild, CNNUpdated 11th June 2015
(CNN) — Nervous fliers and elderly pontiffs have been known to crumple to their knees and kiss the ground immediately after disembarking from planes.
In some cases that means going lips-on with hot asphalt, but mostly it involves smooching a hard-wearing synthetic floor covering.
For the people behind the online trove that is Carpets for Airports, such a gesture is well deserved.
The website is a deeply affectionate celebration of "the floor beneath the sky above your feet."
With eyes cast permanently downward and tongues planted firmly in cheeks, the Carpets for Airports team appraises the artistic merits of floor coverings on show from Dar es Salaam to Denver.
Here, Carpets for Airports' self-described CEO and summer intern George Pendle tells CNN about hidden meanings to be found in the world of wall-to-wall furnishings.
CNN: Why a website about airport carpets?
Pendle: One might just as well ask, "Why sing?" "Why dance?" "Why breathe?"
However, if you're wondering how I gained my interest in airport carpets, my "road to Damascus" moment occurred in the early years of the 21st century.
A nervous flier, I was due to travel from Newark to London Heathrow and had ingested the usual mixture of alcohol and Xanax to help get me through the flight.
Unfortunately my flight was delayed, so I was forced to sit in the waiting area, semi-comatose, for hour after hour, unable to do anything but stare at the carpet.
It was then that I was awakened to the majesty and grandeur of airport carpeting.
Patterns leaped out at me, hidden messages whispered in my ear.
By the time I boarded my plane I was a changed man.
SJO BDA YYC GSP
Magic carpets: SJO, BDA, YYC and GSP.
courtesy Carpets for Airports
CNN: How long has the site been going, and any idea how many carpets are now documented?
Pendle: I have been collecting pictures of airport carpets since the early 2000s because I am fascinated by their role as the world's largest interior visual design medium.
However the website didn't appear until 2009.
We now have over 100 carpets online and about 200 more waiting to be cataloged.
We try not to rush our aesthetic judgments at Carpets For Airports.
A carpet can take us weeks, or even months, to fully appreciate.
CNN: Can an airport carpet tell us anything about its surroundings?
Pendle: An airport carpet can tell you everything about its surroundings!
Witness the carpet at Singapore's Changi Airport, a vertiginous monochrome wonder that seems to mimic what one would see if you fell out of a window in the city's brightly lit Downtown Core.
Or, at the other extreme, the modest carpet at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Oregon, which sports a Prince of Wales check, referencing a secret visit made to the town by King Edward VIII in the late 1930s to open a Girl Scout camp.
CNN: Do you have any personal favorites/least favorites?
Pendle: L.F. Wade International Airport, in Bermuda, carries many happy memories as one of my earliest airport carpets and one of my most dazzling.
Meanwhile the carpet at Alice Springs Airport in Australia -- which we are readying for the website -- has perhaps the most brilliant mind-bending design of any airport carpet I've ever seen.
Forget Ayers Rock. ASP is where it's at.
SIN SMF MSY KUL
SIN, SMF, MSY and KUL. Patterns for passengers.
courtesy Carpets for Airports
CNN: What do you think about airports, such as Copenhagen's, that eschew the sophistication of carpeting for wooden floors?
Pendle: Who can explain the evil that men do?
Hard floorings such as marble, wood, terrazzo and linoleum, have become fashionable of late, but I believe they create a characterless "international" style that is as opposed to interpretation as it is repellent to the foot.
Airport carpets are so much richer to both the senses and the intellect.
Indeed, if airports can be seen as temples to travel, gateways to other worlds, then airport carpets are the vast prayer mats upon which we all genuflect.
Why else, when we enter airport security, are we forced to take off our shoes?
Pendle: Many.
This was a national, no, international tragedy.
The old carpet was a masterpiece, a nod to both Russian neo-Suprematist artist Kazimir Malevich, and the 1970s arcade game Pong.
However the new carpet is a clear sop to the increasing influence of Asian investment on the West Coast.
Whereas the old carpet design loosely referenced PDX's runway configuration, the new carpet's lines look less like runways than the curved eaves of a Chinese temple.
The background image is clearly an abstracted bamboo leaf, and the old carpet's iconic teal coloring has been replaced by an obsequious jade.
It's not a bad carpet, but one can't help but feel that the new carpet is less concerned with pleasing Portland's current residents than in welcoming new investors from abroad.
CNN: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and what you do when not running the Internet's leading documenter of airport floor coverings?
Pendle: I am a writer currently working on a history of the even-numbered kings of England.