When interior designer Emily Morrow Finkell, CEO of Emily Morrow Home, recently hosted her company’s first Designer Summit, the most mind-expanding part of the event took place in a prison. She gathered leading designers from Tennessee for an honest and insightful exchange of information and a hands-on primer on the engineered hardwood flooring that Morrow Finkell markets and her husband Don Finkell manufactures. It started with cocktails and dinner, followed the next day by a collaborative morning session and then the highlight -- the designers visited the prison where Finkell's flooring is made.
An inmate uses a hand planer to hand-scrape an 8' plank of wood. It’s a technique that brings out the natural grain, character and texture of the wood.
At the Turney Correctional Facility’s prison mill, designers were given an opportunity to try their hand at planing wood. They agreed that is was harder than it looked. Designer Morgan Martin from edwardshae said, “I am truly inspired to see so much pride and purpose going into each piece of wood." Morrow Finkell adds, "Seeing the inmates at work is something these designers will forever carry with them."
American OEM’s hardwood mill at the medium-security prison outside Nashville, employs 200 inmates and has a long waiting list. Don Finkell launched American OEM four years ago with the prison labor force as the win-win basis of his business model. Emily Morrow Home finished wood flooring is made at the American OEM prison mill. Prisoners who meet the strict guidelines for employment are paid and consider it a privilege to work. “When prisoners are released, they are highly employable thanks to the work experience and skills learned while working for OEM. Don’s socially responsible business model uses a voluntary Prison Industry Enterprise (PIE) program to employ incarcerated individuals to help manufacture flooring products,” explains Morrow Finkell.
Emily Morrow Finkell's wood flooring currently offers 12 finishes from warm brown to linen white, from refined to purposefully aged.
Emily Morrow Home’s 8-ft-long engineered hardwood planks are tongue-and groove constructed and 7” wide are easily installed. Made entirely in the USA in Tennessee of American hardwood, the flooring is sold to designers and the trade only. Her 2019 line is in development and will include some of the new looks previewed and discussed during the Summit.
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Top photo was taken at the Tunney Correctional Facility. Front row, left to right: Stephanie Sabbe, Sabbe Interior Design; Mallory Cruise, Floor Covering Weekly; Amanda Underwood, Park Berry Farmhouse; Svetlana Hanzyy, Hanzyy Design; Emily Morrow Finkell, Emily Morrow Home; Elise Demboski, EMERGE and Michael Standridge, American OEM. Back row, left to right: Jeremy Underwood, Park Berry Farmhouse; Don Finkell, American OEM; Deborah Ryals, Deborah B. Ryals Designs; Amy Rush-Imber, Floor Covering Weekly; Morgan Martin, edwardshae and Kathy Wall, The Media Matters.