Portland’s Obsession With PDX Airport Carpet

9 February 2015

In its famous tradition of ‘keeping things weird’ Portland now has another claim to fame aside from craft beer and doughnuts: airport carpet. Yes that’s right; PDX Airport’s carpet has become a social media star, with accounts across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Not to mention a successful line of merchandise featuring the iconic carpet pattern.

 Winning combo: food in hand + PDX carpet feet shot. Image via @pdxcarpet

Who knows how these things take off? Planking, selfies, food-in-air-shots... next the thing to do was have a photo taken of yourself lying on the floor of PDX airport. Some folks even have the carpet pattern tattooed on their bodies. Oregon brewers, Rogue Ales, created a ‘PDX Carpet India Pale Ale’ with a label that showcases the carpet pattern. People have even fashioned design-your-own Adidas and Nike sneakers that feature the pattern.

Please note: this is real life. You are not reading a syndicated article from The Onion.

 PDX carpet Adidas sneakers. Image via @pdxcarpet

We think we might have an inkling how these viral anomalies take off: hipsters.

I've never been to Portland, but I've seen the airport's carpet a million times. If you asked me to draw a picture of the delightfully geometric 80s design, I could probably do it with my eyes closed. How, you wonder? Hipsters. That's how.” Says Adam Clack Estes, writer at Gizmodo.

 PDX carpet pale ale. Image via @pdxcarpet

Over the past 20 years Portland has become a mecca for creative types. First the 90s dot com boom brought new computer-related industry to the city. Secondly, the music scene was thriving, and thirdly, Portland was cheaper to live than Seattle or San Francisco so the artists started moving in. It’s estimated that thousands of creative-types moved to the city during this time and consequently walked across PDX carpet in the process. Think of it as a Portland red-carpet of sorts.

 The classic 'lay down' shot. Image via @pdxcarpet

The carpet was originally laid in 1987; in 2006 airport officials decided it was time to revamp the carpet – luckily, it’s taken them nine years to pull up all 28,000 square feet of it. Back then no one realised people would care about the carpet. The hipsters care. Once word began to spread the carpet was on its way out, the social media tribute began and PDX-carpet-posing went viral. The PDX carpet was the hipster’s new Habitat For Humanity if you will. ‘Save the designer carpet!’

 PDX carpet socks (plus hipster brogues). Image via @pdxcarpet

They couldn’t save it, but they can own a piece of it. After failing to find a way to recycle it, the Port of Portland is now giving out pieces to anyone who wants it. The new carpet unfortunately doesn't have quite the same aesthetically pleasing design pizzazz. Sigh. But at least the old carpet will remain immortalised in the form of socks, t-shirts, coffee mugs, beer can holders and don’t forget the tattoos – they’re forever, man.

 PDX carpet ink #4lyfe. Image via @pdxcarpet / @local.catbug

Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.