1979 was a wild year in world history — the Iran Hostage Crisis, Three Mile Island, and the rise of Thatcherism all marked the conclusion of the Disco Decade. Over in Los Angeles, the SoCal hardcore punk scene burst into the mainstream. Bands like Black Flag and Bad Religion vehemently decried the inauthenticity of their predecessors, the fashion-conscious Hollywood art punk bands like X and the Go-Go’s, in favor of a new gritty realism that celebrated a pared-down aesthetic and embrace of diverse voices. It was in this artistic, chaotic, and fecund melting pot that Bentley was born.
Eschewing the traditional “carpet capital” (Georgia) for L.A. turned out to be a fortuitous choice for the 40-year-old brand. Today, they are the largest commercial carpet manufacturer in California. They haven’t forgotten their roots though — their products reflect a keen understanding of L.A.’s embrace of both grit and glamour. They also still prize the diversity of voices that call the City of Angels home.
“Looking back over the huge changes we’ve seen between 1979 and now, the one constant has been our Bentley family,” says Jim Harley, president of Bentley. “I truly believe that our people are the reason we've been able to maintain the integrity of our name and the loyalty of our customers.”
The people who power Bentley have elevated it into a multi-dimensional boutique brand with the stamina to keep pace with the larger mills while retaining the agility to cater to the evolving expectations of customers. Following on the 1982 success of Kings Road, the brand’s debut top-selling product, the company continues to deliver double-digit growth. This growth is bolstered by Bentley’s burgeoning portfolio of products, which includes broadloom, carpet tile, LVT, and modulyss flatweave.
“I’ve seen many brands come and go over the years,” says Richard French, Bentley’s vice president of global sales and marketing. “I've also seen them survive, only to lose sight of their identity as well as the attributes that made them specifiable. The fact that Bentley has been able to hold strong to our core and yet still be flexible enough to evolve with market demands is a testament to how solid our foundation truly is.”
Looking into the future, Bentley has turned their eyes to innovation, particularly with regard to sustainability. They’ve already set a good precedent — the brand has been monitoring greenhouse gases since 1994 and was the first carpet manufacturer to earn LEED-EBOM Silver and LEED-EBOM Gold accreditation. Today they are investing in sustainable energy sources, challenging other manufactures to match their Cradle-to-Cradle accomplishments, and diverting more waste away from North American landfills.
Not so bad for a solid middle-ager in a market that prizes youth and vitality! Bentley will surely keep the design industry on its toes for the next 40 years.