Images: Quirky B Lattice and Cube Ben Pentreath for Alternative Flooring; Flowers of Thorpe Liberty Fabric with Alternative Flooring; Chainmail Ashley Hicks for Alternative Flooring and Fair Isle Margo Selby for Alternative Flooring
We are all crazy for collaborations. From Topshop and Wedgwood to the Dolce & Gabbana fridge and the Fendi Chair, fashion brands are stepping off the catwalk and into the world of homewares. These happy partnerships show that two minds are sometimes better than one.
Creative collaborations grab the headlines. It’s a strikingly simple and clever concept that is instantly newsworthy. Brands either want the big names or those individuals on the ascent of becoming a high-profile designer. It is also about someone who is going to bring something different to the table. Someone who can take a collection in a fresh and perhaps a more alternative direction.
Lorna Haigh, head of creative and marketing at Alternative Flooring is making carpet cool. She has scouted some of the UK’s best designers who have added great British pattern to the award-winning Quirky B collection.
Go on work these collaborations in your own home!
Great interior designer style
Ben Pentreath is an A-list architectural interior designer and exponent of English style. His distinctive and playful style draws inspiration from the great practioners of the 1960s and 70s and historical interiors. He also writes a brilliant blog.
Cube, Tetra and Lattice are his designs in Ben Pentreath for Alternative Flooring. These are inspired by stone and marble flooring patterns by the prolific 18th century architect, Batty Langley but now re-worked as carpets in vivid colours that are named after Georgian architects and fuse country-house with contemporary quirky.
‘The designs create three-dimensional patterns that trick the eye and play with space, in a way, which create rich textures for the contemporary English interior. Rooted in tradition, I am always surprised how fresh and modern these classical designs can be, and it’s been a real honour to work with the talented people at Alternative Flooring to bring this collection to fruition.’ Ben Pentreath
Ashley Hicks is another alternative collaborator and interior design icon. His recent ventures include creating sets for the Corian Cabana Club during Milan’s design week, where he indulged in the world of maximalism. He also is a prolific instagrammer!
Giant hexagonals loomed large in the world of his father, the legendary English interior designer David Hicks. A flamboyant personality and bold use of colour (Coca-Cola and Yellow Duster) made him one of the most successful interior decorators of the 1960s. His son has reissued some of his father’s geometric patterns but in new guises. Ashley Hicks for Alternative Flooring is a collaboration that sees hexagons take to the floor with great originality.
‘I was keen to make a hexagon-based design that was new and different, with a random edge to its geometry rather than the usual symmetrical, formal layout. Playing around with this idea, I came up with Chainmail. Having grown up surrounded by Seventies geometrics, I love them, and very much wanted that quality in the design, but mixed with a more contemporary style.’ Ashley Hicks
The other design is Daisy. Inspired by wall-decoration in an old temple in Sri Lanka, it has a punchy, Pop presence that will inject a touch of 60’s glamour into any room.
Why weaves are magical underfoot
Have you used Margo Selby pattern in your interiors? Well she is definitely our queen of weave. You can now find her famous textiles translated onto flooring in her first ever carpet collaboration. Her Fair Isle and Shuttle designs are beautifully crafted in Margo Selby’s trademark three-dimensional style and feature her distinctive graphic patterns.
‘Margo Selby for Alternative Flooring is inspired by a collection of hand-woven silk and wool fabrics developed on my handloom, which have been upscaled and recoloured to make them suitable for flooring. I am excited with my first flooring collaboration and see both carpet and colour coming back into fashion.’ Margo Selby
How to show flowers on floors
Two great British brands that share a rich heritage of design got together to dress our floors – Alternative Flooring with Liberty Fabrics. This is the first time that Liberty Fabrics has used its iconic patterns including for summer florals on a wall-to-wall carpet, stair runner and bespoke rugs.
‘Classic Liberty prints have been expertly woven into contemporary rugs, runners and carpets creating a new visualisation for these iconic designs, bringing them into our interiors in a unique, original and innovative way. Walk on woven heritage gardens, meadows, shells and exotic y created to adorn the floors of both modern and vintage interiors.’ Liberty Design Studio
Collaborations are all the rage. In fashion, they induce shopping frenzy – remember the camping fans for H&M for Alexander Wang) and flooring our collaborations make patterned carpets, rugs and runners super cool.
Be inspired by our creative collaborations
Alternative Flooring’s Make Me A Rug online – Quirky B Spotty Grey, Rock ‘n’ Roll Mr. Blue Sky, Moon Mineral Pinstripe, Quirky B Strawberry Meadow Marigold, Sisal Bubbleweave Gold, Jute Big Panama Brioche, Wool Herringbone Zig Zag. Rock ‘n’ Roll Mr Blue Sky rug with Porcelain and Jot Denim border.
Looking for inspiration – easy updates and finishing touches
If lighting and flooring are the two most important elements when designing a home, then lamps and rugs are the most important accessories in the final decorating sweep. It’s the time to focus on the finishing touches. Here’s how to play with not just colour and pattern, but with your imagination.
Decorating with light
Pooky is all about lamp love and decorative lighting. Like Alternative Flooring they love a bit of quirkiness in the home. Sneaking an accent pattern or dash of colour into a room is great fun, but can often be a bit of a challenge – which is where rugs and lamps can be your friend. After all, Pooky is a term of endearment, a pet name, isn’t it? We asked Tim Doyne, one of the Pooky Directors, how it all began.
“Pooky – sounds like Kooky, or perhaps it conjures up the name of your treasured imaginary friend. Whatever it means to you, we hope that it includes something colourful and quirky. We want Pooky’s lamps and shades to help our customers inject little twinkles of colour around their interiors, easily and inexpensively. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to change your lampshades now and then – just like a new rug transforms everything.”
There are some great lamps bases and shades galore. You can mix and match – pattern with plain, traditional with modern. Perhaps we should all pay more attention to the plight of the table lamp or indeed its floor version both as a finishing touch and more of a statement. Tim suggests opting for, “The Nellie – a really simple ceramic base available in five bold beautiful running glazes. Pair it with a simple parchment shade and you’ve got a stunner that’ll make friends anywhere you place it!”
Styling with pattern and colour
Or you may be hunting for a lamp in just the right colour for your room. The bright sparks at Pooky make it easy for you be confident with pattern or be colour coded. Pooky and Farrow & Ball have got together to offer hundreds of shade and style combinations. Take your pick from 19 wooden lamp bases painted in a choice of 21 of the most popular paint colours from the experts.
There are tips too about which lights to use where. Lamps are a favourite in the bedroom not just for a decorative touch but because they cast a softer, lower level light. This is serious stuff and we need Pooky’s know how here. Tim again.
“In your love of atmosphere, colour and beautiful styling, don’t forget the practical side to lighting. Use metallic shades and pendants when you need to capture the light and push it down in pools for work surfaces or reading areas. But use a gentler fabric and non-directional shades if you’re trying to produce a gentler ambiance for entertaining or relaxing spaces. Little lamps are great in bedrooms but they can also find their place in the otherwise pendant world of the open-plan kitchen, where they can be discreetly tucked on a shelf to bring some gentle warmth.”
Rugs with personality woven in
Whether a new rug is an easy update or finishing touch, it brings colour, pattern and texture to a room and just like lighting, has the power to create a mood. Customised rugs are another fun and easy way to personalise your home.
Decorating with rugs opens up a world of possibilities. Whether they speak softly or shout loudly, rugs let you stamp your personality onto your floor. Everyone can have their creative moment with Alternative’s Make Me A Rug online. There are thousands of floors – wool, natural fibres, patterns and textures and border combinations to choose from. The new Alternative Flooring with Liberty Fabrics collection with iconic designs making fabulous bespoke rugs.
Watch our cool rug video starring the Mad about the House interiors writer Kate Watson-Smyth who shows the five easy steps to creating your rug. In her home, Kate goes wild with the Quirky B black and white Zebo animal print with a dazzlingly bright pink border. Read more on Kate’s blog How to decorate with rugs and here’s one of her top tips.
“Firstly, buy the biggest rug you can afford for the space. Secondly, in the sitting room (for example), a rug should be anchored by the front legs of the sofa (at the very least). A small rug under the coffee table that doesn’t touch any furniture creates an island and doesn’t pull the room together. If you have only small rugs then layer them up to cover a larger space.”
As with lamps you can afford to be bold with rugs as it’s easy to move them around to other rooms or even to change them seasonally.
As Kate says, we change our clothes with the weather so why not some of our soft furnishings and accessories too.
Discover what makes Pooky and Alternative Flooring different
You can browse Pooky’s lamps on their website
If you want to find a lamp in just the right colour and fancy designing your very own rug to match, then enter our competition link
ENTER our fantastic competition for a chance to WIN a statement rug and light here!
Images from top left to bottom right: Seagrass Herringbone, Seagrass Herringbone detail, Big Jute Panama Brioche runner, Big Jute Panama Brioche runner detail, Sisal Metallic Aluminum, Sisal Metallic Aluminum detail, OCHRE Walnut rug, straw footwear by Osklen and Big Jute Boucle Muffin
How to decorate with natural fibres
Discover how Sisal, Coir, Jute and Seagrass woven flooring can bring a natural presence from the loom to our living rooms for SS17. Try our Alternative high-fibre diet in your interiors. Follow our top tips and trends for welcoming the inside-out/outside-in style of living.
Weaving is big on the catwalks this season. Fashionable braided and basket design give a fresh twist to woven floors and for nature lovers the hip herringbone spread lovingly across a whole room gives it a golden sense of wellbeing. This is our top solution for those who want a natural carpet to look more crisp and contemporary.
Want to know what colours are in vogue? Well apart from Chinese whispers saying a lacquer red for accents, Elle Decoration tells us that nut brown is a cracking trend this season. We don’t know what your mixed nut selection is but walnut is the one for interiors. Take a look at our Sisal Herringbone Havant and Sisal Super Boucle Bickton. Marquetry is also on the design radar and watch out for natural oak with unique grain patterns.
Brass and copper are the must-have metals of the moment. Try lustrous Sisal Metallic to bring instant opulence into your schemes. Go for the warmer metals or play it cool with new Aluminium shade for a sophisticated air. Fuse metallic with matte materials such as natural woods – our tip is to make an extra-large Sisal Metallic Make Me A Rug with a luxe chocolate leather border and spread across wide wooden floorboards.
We seek to temper uncertainty with a desire for authenticity, craftsmanship, cosiness and simplicity. We seek honest moral fibres and we salute the raw beauty of nature and handmade. Our Big Jute ticks all the boxes. It is big on comfort and brims with chunky texture. This handwoven collection is packed with natural character with names full of homely goodness including Crumpet, Toast and Muffin. Now that’s what we call high-fibre flooring.
You can obtain more information about our natural flooring by clicking here.
Captions from top left to bottom right: Naked Kitchens Cabinetry; Two styled images from Turner Pocock Interior Design; far left image of Mr Blue Sky, Rock ‘n’ Roll; Strawberry Meadow Peacock, Alternative Flooring with Liberty Fabrics; Margo Selby Hastings bedlinen; Quirky Lattice, Ben Pentreath for Alternative Flooring; Flowers of Thorpe Summer Garden, Alternative Flooring with Liberty Fabrics; Liberty Fabrics and Make Me A Rug.
New Year, New Looks for your Home
Christmas is over for another year, and as we sweep up the last few straggling pine needles – top tip: wrap a piece of duct tape around your hand, sticky side up – we’ve put together some New Year’s resolutions in the spirit of home improvement to inspire you. From patterned carpets to unusual shades, unleash your creative freedom this New Year.
How to Add Space
Once the Christmas clutter is cleared, the next step is to think about how you can streamline your space. We all dream of building up, out or down, but there are other ways to unlock the space that you already have. Ever thought of storage under your stairs? What about supersizing all doors and adding a striped carpet runner like our Mr Blue Sky to give the illusion of space? We think 2017 will be the year of beautiful bespoke cabinetry and cleverly inbuilt storage.
Why not try a New Shade?
Go outside your colour comfort zone and try a new shade on your walls and floors. Be brave in living areas or try out a new colour in a small area first – treat your floor as the fifth wall! One of our favourites is Strawberry Meadow carpet in exotic Peacock blue. Take a look at interior designers Turner Pocock, who are named in the House & Garden Directory of the 100 leading interior designers. This dynamic duo has a passion for colour and is leading the revolution away from the beige years.
Don’t be Scared of the Dark
Most of us prefer to play it safe and opt for lighter shades on walls and carpets when decorating our own spaces. In Kate Watson-Smyth’s book Shades of Grey, the interior designer Abigail Ahern tells us how she started by “painting just one alcove in Down Pipe and ended up painting the whole house from top to bottom. It was the best interiors move [she] ever made.” Down Pipe is a soft lead grey shade from Farrow & Ball.
Fall in Love with Patterned Carpets
As a nation, we are becoming more confident with using pattern. If you use our quirky patterned carpets or bespoke rugs, then keep walls simple to maximise the effect. If you prefer to use a big pattern, contrast it with small scale designs; partner busy patterned carpets with plains. We love Margo Selby’s vibrant new bedlinen, Liberty paisley, and this year we fancy floral floors with Flowers of Thorpe in Summer Garden from Alternative Flooring with Liberty Fabrics.
Have Fun with Floors
This is our favourite New Year’s decorating resolution. The floor plays a pivotal role in any interior design scheme and if you get that right then everything else easily falls into place. But don’t forget to have fun, too, with our Make Me A Rug online service. We have a rug for each room so get designing! When you have made your personalised rug, you can order and get it delivered to your nearest Alternative Flooring retailer.
Why not browse Alternative Flooring’s collection and find some New Year inspiration.
Bridgette Kelly worked in both the public and private sector before joining the wool industry and has worked both in-house at the British Wool Marketing Board and as a consultant for the Campaign for Wool. She understands the entire fleece to finished product chain of production and works closely with the interiors, fashion and craft sector.
Her current role includes the creative and marketing direction of the wool sector for the Campaign for Wool in the UK and USA.
Wool Story: Our Q&A with Bridgette Kelly
When did the Campaign for Wool begin?
When the Campaign for Wool launched in 2010, it was against a backdrop of low returns on wool to the British sheep farmer and sheep farmers across the world. The Prince, a landlord to many tenant sheep farmers, had been made aware of the fact that wool was not covering the cost of shearing the sheep. As an environmentalist, he felt that naturally grown wool was better for the environment and by far the superior choice for clothing and flooring and many other products. Following discussions with the British Wool Marketing Board, other members of the wool industry and the fashion and interiors sector, he felt that an awareness campaign would help put real wool back in the spotlight.
Why did the first ever Wool Conference take place this year?
The Campaign is very active and much has been achieved, particularly the way the larger global wool organisations – Woolmark, British Wool, Cape Wools of South Africa, New Zealand – have come together to work in a united way to promote wool. There was a feeling that the conference would help focus the whole industry on the amazing assets of the fibre – whilst looking constructively at some of the issues wool faces commercially.
Tell us about The Dumfries House Wool Declaration with HRH The Prince of Wales, Patron of The Campaign for Wool?
The Dumfries House Declaration is vital in a world where there are so many that do not understand the benefits of real wool and the processes of wool collection. It simply defines the assets of wool and declares the high standards of wool harvesting as supported by sheep farming countries across the world under “The Five Freedoms of Sheep.”
Can you name some well-known wool delegates?
The Campaign for Wool is a broad church and so the Conference welcomed a healthy mix of textile industry players and wool lovers. It also importantly welcomed some retailers that were not so convinced about real wool that came to find out more. Obviously, the most important delegate was our Patron HRH The Prince of Wales, who announced his ongoing commitment to ‘his’ Campaign – for another five years. This adds immense value to our planning and direction. Livia Firth was also there – founder and creative director of Eco-Age and an Oxfam Global Ambassador. Livia is passionate about sustainability and spoke with genuine knowledge.
It is perhaps her mission to reach out and engage widely that is so different. Her following on social media is huge and this kind of influence is vital to the Campaign as we channel our way forward with the next generation of wool consumers. Another highlight was Sir Paul Smith, cutting edge contemporary designer who gave an extraordinary talk – which focused on looking at things differently to capture attention – Paul has used wool in his suiting for years and is a natural innovator recently introducing the shower-proof suit.
Did you enjoy Wool Week? What were your highlights?
Wool Week is always a whirlwind of activity! We pack so much into a short week and the result is always brilliant. This year the Wool BnB gave us all a moment to be proud of! It was intended to be a truly creative space showcasing a colourful mix of the potential of wool to make a home comfortable, tactile and visually stimulating. The fabulous flooring in the living areas was provided by Alternative Flooring with Liberty Fabrics collection. They provided an artistic base for the rooms, which laid the foundation for layers of textile pattern and bold colours creating an extraordinary feast for the eyes! Add to this all the craft events, retail activity, the student hand-knit awards and the amazing Selvedge wool symposium and with Wool Week you have something very special.
Is Wool Week global?
Wool Week has had many global celebrations over the years – Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, USA, – all have celebrated wool in different ways. It often centres around retail activity and of course…sheep! We have had flocks of sheep in so many unexpected places – my favourite and perhaps most stressful was in Bryant Park, in the centre of Manhattan behind the New York city library – that was – ‘awesome’ – as the Americans like to say!
You travel the world with wool – do the Americans love wool?
The activity in the USA is focused on the flooring sector. Wool carpets and area rugs are usually 100% wool and are considered a luxury purchase in the US. Flooring is often selected by residential interior designers who are used more frequently for the home than in the UK. We have placed a lot of emphasis on education there as the wool knowledge base is less than in the UK. We have spent time creating Continuing Education for designers and architects – something we will roll out in the UK soon too.
It is such a huge country – and it’s really interesting that while New York is all for colour and pattern, the West Coast just want creams and neutrals and in Colorado, it’s chunky wool flooring all the way. It is different and inspiring!
Why do you choose wool?
It may sound corny, but I truly believe in this wonderful natural fibre. It is a very capable, almost magical fibre, in terms of its structure and its performance capabilities.
Wool adds a feeling of warmth and texture – it is versatile, innovative, resilient and recyclable. It is the classic fabric choice for every home, adding comfort, insulation and stylish flair. From throws which add that splash of colour to cosy cushions and carpets, wool can be used in a myriad of ways to wonderful effect.
I also believe in the industry behind it – the farmer with his flock and our spinners, weavers and makers with their vital skills that transform it into so many great products. It is the people and their stories that thrive around the fibre that make it so fascinating.
Wool has history and authenticity and it invites such creativity. I believe my role now and in the future is to ensure that we have a strong demand for wool, to keep those sheep on the hills and that passionate textile production chain working, so the skills continue and there is wool for the next generation.
What’s your Christmas present wool wish list?
This is a seriously loaded question! In addition to an indulgent deep pile Wool Barefoot rug from Alternative Flooring…
I saw an amazing arran knit ‘tam o shanter’ in soft green on a girl on the train yesterday – it was lovely – and that would need to be on my woolly Christmas present list. I suspect it was hand knitted – so next would be to become an instant superstar woolly knitter – which I am not! I also would love some of the stunning Donegal Tweed fabric by Sequana from Tissus d’Helene to re-upholster an old chair I have. A large bag in ‘Benbecula’ design by Anta for all the things I cart about with me! I loved the soft, chunky knit throws by Melanie Porter at the Wool BnB and I also rather fancy a new area rug by AF to sit under my refectory table in my conservatory, to make a real centrepiece and cosy toes too! Finally, a long wool with linen coat has caught my eye in Poetry.
But, if I had to choose only one thing – it would be that Tam O Shanter!
Alternative Flooring and Melin Tregwynt got together at The Campaign for Wool’s first ever Wool BnB. We are now thrilled to welcome Eifion Griffiths (the owner of Melin Tregwynt) to be our guest blogger. This family owned woollen mill in Pembrokeshire heralds a new spirit in Welsh design with wool blankets, throws and cushions, furniture, accessories and clothing that combine authentic Welsh tradition with modern design.
We’re told that this is the year of Hygge.
A Danish word pronounced hue-ga, it loosely translates as cosiness but means much more than cosy throws and woolly rugs. Linked to the word “hug”, Hygge has a sense of encirclement, of boundaries, of a safe space. It’s about a feeling of wellbeing, about quiet enjoyment, whether through time spent with close friends or family, sitting by a fire with a hot chocolate, or putting on warm socks and dry clothes after a rainstorm.
Here in Wales, we have our own word for this.
Cwtch, (rhymes with ‘butch’) has emerged as one of the nation’s favourite words in Wales and is a small cosy place, a cubbyhole, a snug; but it also has another meaning. Cwtch also refers to the act of creating a small space between you and another – like a hug, only much better! To “cwtch-up” is to snuggle up with someone on a cold welsh winters night. The true meaning of cosy!
Cwtch has a way of transporting you back to the safety of childhood, safe and comforting. This corresponds with the word’s other meaning, which is a place to safely store things – if you give someone a cwtch, you’re offering them a safe refuge from the uncertainties of life.
Inspiration at your fingertips
It’s interesting that the full experience of cwtch and hygge does depend on our acknowledgement of the existence of the threatening dark and cold outside this refuge. Their emergence as new trends in 2016 is perhaps a sign that we are searching for this same security, this certainty, in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world.
Concepts like cwtch reflect the way we live now, in that they gather interiors, food and fashion into one cohesive picture, like a perfectly curated Instagram still life, or a Pinterest board. Other people’s photos are part of the daily fabric of modern life. You can window shop from your computer or mobile phone. In just a few seconds, you can see exactly how other people do it in their own homes. But hygge and cwtch are about how we feel, rather than simply being about how things appear.
Cwtch-Up your home with cosy, soft textures and wool carpets
Wool is a natural provider of cwtch and woven woollen blankets and throws, fabrics and soft floor rugs are the natural embodiment of cwtch along with woolly jumpers and thick socks, hot drinks and a warm fire.
But it’s not really about products with a practical use; but rather magical objects that summon up feelings and emotions: of safety and solace, of comfort and calm. This matters, because one of the biggest change in consumer habits in the last decade relates to how we spend our disposable income on experiences over possessions these days. Social media has turned individual experience and stories into social and cultural capital for your disposal, ready to be framed and hash tagged, inspiring others around the world.
Consumers are always looking for stories – but they must be local and authentic. Companies that have stayed close to their roots are prospering, even in the current economic climate.
20 years ago we didn’t emphasize the traditional Welsh roots of our fabrics; We sold our work on its appearance and design. These days, we find that the authenticity and the story behind the company are equally important.
The same applies to Alternative Flooring with their hand woven Barefoot wool carpet.
Blankets are physical objects not concepts, but blankets have always had a symbolic meaning above and beyond their physical presence. They are always handed out after any disaster, any disruption of the norm as a source of comfort. If somebody is in shock, people reach for a blanket or something to cover them, to hide them or to comfort them. Blankets and throws have become synonymous with safety in the face of shock, uncertainty, and the darkness beyond.
Even Dr Who, the fearless Time Lord himself, keeps some Melin Tregwynt blankets on the Tardis just for emergencies!
Today, tens of millions of online consumers are pro-actively blogging, telling and showing each other, what they’re feeling, thinking and doing.
At its best, the craze for hygge and cwtch could encourage a love of simplicity over expensive brands and conspicuous consumption, a renewed focus on the social relations that really matter. At worst, it could boil down to just another way of selling candles, Danish designer lighting, and even Welsh woven blankets.
Enter the Alternative Flooring and Melin cosy competition to win a rug, throw and cushions for your home.
More information can be found on their Facebook page, too.
The first Wool BnB
This BnB in cool North London welcomed guests warmly. The Campaign for Wool’s brand kitted out the whole house, which starred vibrant rugs from Alternative Flooring with Liberty Fabrics – Strawberry Meadow, Flowers of Thorpe and Felix Raison paisley. It really was a joyful house dressed from floor to ceiling with interiors and fashion designs made of Wool including our friends Sofa.com, Melin Tregwynt, Fine Cell Work and wool art by Jessica Dance. Apart from our collection we loved the bedroom, which boasted a luxury wool-filled mattresses, pillows, duvets, cosy blankets and nightwear showing how wool aids a good night’s sleep. Guests could even have a woolly overnight stay with a knitted breakfast. There was even a Shepherds’ hut and a few sheep in the back garden!
Every year The Campaign for Wool create something very special and the Wool B&B received terrific support from the media with lots of press visits.
About The Campaign for Wool
The Campaign for Wool was launched in 2010 to educate consumers about the benefits of wool, promote wool-rich products to a national audience and help to support and grow the wool industry. Run by a coalition of industry groups convened by HRH The Prince of Wales, the campaign works to engage consumers through exciting fashion, interiors, artisan and design lead activities centering around Wool Week each year.
The Campaign for Wool is jointly funded by some of the largest wool grower organisations in the world. Key nation partners include the British Wool Marketing Board, Australian Wool Innovation/The Woolmark Company, Cape Wools South Africa and Campaign for Wool New Zealand. All have shown incredible support and contributed to the global success of His Royal Highness’s Campaign for Wool since its inception.
Wool is a fibre of infinite potential with a vast array of benefits. Completely natural, sustainable and recyclable, this superior fibre is both versatile and durable with many unique performance properties unbeknown to consumers. For floors it is also wonderfully resilient, a natural insulator and effective sound proofer.
In next month’s blog we interview the wool queen Bridgette Kelly of the British Wool Marketing Board who travels the world with wool and shares her vision for a woolly future.
Alternative Flooring’s head of creative and marketing Lorna Haigh tells us the story behind this meeting of minds, working together to create this glorious new collection.
WEAVING A STORY
How did the story begin?
Well, who doesn’t love Liberty and adore the shop. A leader in print design and textile innovation, Liberty Fabrics has been creating original and inspiring designs for more than 130 years. Alternative has worked with great British designers – Ashley Hicks, Ben Pentreath and Margo Selby to bring new pattern to our distinctive Quirky B collection. This time we approached Liberty and we are delighted that they were as enthusiastic as we were.
Both brands have history of British making. Was that an important factor?
Britain has a fine history of producing quality brands with craftsmanship. Liberty Fabrics and Alternative Flooring continue this tradition. Supporting British design and manufacturing were key factors in launching Quirky B. and working with Liberty Fabrics with its commitment and passion for design excellence and its rich heritage of Liberty print that continues today.
We can’t believe Liberty patterns have not been used on floors before. Is this really a first?
Yes, this is the first time that Liberty Fabrics has used its iconic patterns on a carpet. It is a new visualisation for the most desirable Liberty designs, bringing them into our interiors in a unique, original and innovative way. Enchanting flowery gardens, meadows, shells and exotic paisley have now been brought to life on floors.
Who selects the patterns? Did you delve into their archives?
This has been an exciting project as archival and classic Liberty prints were chosen. Working with the Liberty Design studio, designs were selected based on the current Liberty Fabrics collections (based on designs taken form their archive) and designs which both parties thought would work well on the floor.
Alternative’s studio were given the selected designs and colourways in the actual fabric to work to. The fabric designs were then reinterpreted in both in pattern and scale to achieve as close to the original fabric design as possible. Some were amazingly spot on others were more difficult to achieve. At least seven designs were originally worked up in CAD format and from these computer designs some were selected for a carpet hand trial. Colour accuracy was incredibly important. The right green and grey was difficult to achieve with so many variants.
Images clockwise from top left to bottom right, showing original Liberty Fabric design inspiration and Alternative Flooring collection: Flowers of Thorpe, Strawberry Meadow, Felix Raison and Capello Shell
Can you name the designs and tell us the story behind each one?
For me, if there is a story or meaning behind a design, then that makes it more interesting.
Flowers of Thorpe is a classic Liberty floral, created in the 1970s but emulating the wonderful small flower designs, which were so popular at Liberty in the 1930s, and a style the brand has become synonymous with.
Felix Raison is a magnificent bohemian design re-worked from a stunning hand painted original mid 19th Century Paisley shawl from the Liberty archive.
Strawberry Meadow is an original, hand drawn Liberty Design Studio exclusive of William Morris’s famous design ‘Strawberry Thief.’ Created in 1883 and features strawberry bushes and birds in tonal shades that translate beautifully as carpet.
Capello Shell is part of ‘The Secret Garden Collection’ inspired by the celebrated novel ‘The Secret Garden’ written by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 1911.
Did you change the scale of the originals and are the colours authentic?
The scale in all the designs has had to be changed to get them to work in carpet. Many of the designs, like Strawberry Meadow are figurative and just would not have worked well in carpet unless it was upscaled. Capello Shell has a much smaller motif in the fabric than in the carpet .
Where and how are these carpets woven?
The carpet is expertly woven on the new state of the art axminster loom in Salisbury. Liberty carpets were some of the first carpets to come off this loom, so again, a great story of new technology applied to a traditional craft and heritage design with refashioned colourways.
Did you have fun shooting the collection?
The location was really important. So we went for a very British heritage property in Somerset. The period features combined with the contemporary styling by Susie Clegg bring this collection to life and Susie selected props from companies such as Pinch, Skandium and Abigail Ahern.
The carpets are beautiful and statement pieces so it wasn’t hard for them to make them the hero of the shot. We did take one shot, which is an image of the location with Flowers of Thorpe laid out at the front. Ben, the photographer, had to pull back massively to get everything in and ended shooting it from the confines of a Laurel bush!
Creative shoot location and Ben the photographer in action
How do you see these designs being used in interior spaces?
Liberty patterns are loved worldwide. Whether it’s a gloriously colourful floral or a muted symmetrical shell pattern, these are true classics that will stand the test of time.
But is all about how you use them as these would fit into classic and contemporary spaces. These iconic patterns do the talking so you may wish to keep the other furnishings simple to let the carpet stand out.
You can have carpets or bespoke rugs. Strawberry Meadow is perfect for period homes with its Arts & Craft heritage. Flowers of Thorpe would look great in modern and retro settings. Capello Shell is a symmetrical and tonal design that is sophisticated and subtle while Felix Raison paisley is for lovers of fashion and boho chic.
And finally, which is your favourite?
A difficult one. I love Flowers of Thorpe Summer Meadow. It is such a happy carpet and I can see people singing down their stairs with this under their feet. I do however adore Strawberry Meadow with the William Morris influence. It is such a classic but not definitely not boring. I would always be looking for the song thrush. It looks cheeky – after all it was a thief!
Quirky B – Alternative Flooring with Liberty Fabrics
Images clockwise from top left: Make Me A Rug selection of rugs, Sisal Super Boucle Bodmin with Moss and Porcelain border made with Alternative Flooring’s Make Me A Rug online service, Mr Blue Sky lifestyle shot, Mr Blue Sky detail, Big Jute runner, Big Jute runner detail, Wool Herringbone lifestyle shot and Wool Herringbone detail
The easiest way to add on trend colour, texture and pattern accents to your home this season is with rugs.
Alternative’s MAKE ME A RUG has been redesigned and has a cool NEW VIDEO starring the MAD ABOUT THE HOUSE interiors writer Kate Watson-Smyth who shows the five easy steps to creating your customised rug. Kate goes wild with the QUIRKY B black and white ZEBO animal print with a dazzlingly bright pink border. Read more on Kate’s blog HOW TO DECORATE WITH RUGS. There are thousands of flooring and border combinations to choose from. Decorating with rugs opens up a world of possibilities.
Whether they speak softly or shout loudly, personalised rugs give you a chance to be yourself, be alternative. Here are a few tips on how to select the right rug for the different spaces in your home.
In the living room give yourself free rein to go as loud as you like! Here a rug can be the starting point or certainly part of the overall decorating scheme. Using colourful shades in the home can be tricky but we are not talking hot and neon but rather more organic brights such as damson and lime, both easy to embrace as an accent tone on a rug. QUIRKY B is bursting with gorgeous patterns in these hues that translate beautifully as a generous bespoke rug.
There ain’t a cloud in sight with the glorious MR BLUE SKY that looks fresh and cool as a rug. Why not create your own summer rug with our ROCK ‘N’ ROLL stripes that are striking and versatile enough to fit into any room.
Herringbone is a classic design for nature lovers and our WOOL HERRINGBONE WITH A NEW THISTLE border makes a comforting rug for sitting rooms and go big in the bedroom! An indulgent wall-to wall wool rug makes the bedroom much softer and quieter. Here keep colours light, textures soft and patterns subtle.
Our hand-woven, natural-fibre rugs make the home your most exotic destination yet! Chunky textures make relaxing rugs for the sitting and dining room. Big Jute tends to be softer is a natural choice for bedrooms. More tightly-woven looped weaves make hardwearing rugs and runners for home offices, hallways and stairs.
If you really want to be in tune with nature this season, then make sure you have a natural fibre rug edged with verdant green accents. The indoor gardener and botanical trend is perfectly captured in our tactile SISAL SUPER BOUCLE Bodmin with Moss and Porcelain border rug that looks absolutely fabulous with giant pot plants.
Kate Watson-Smyth has been a national newspaper journalist for over 20 years. She also writes the UK’s number 1 interiors blog Madaboutthehouse.com and runs a successful interior styling business. Her first book Shades of Grey was published in February.
For the first time Alternative Flooring’s Make Me A Rug service offers Quirky B pattern along with lots of new borders. This fabulous service has a new video that shows the five easy steps -choose a design from natural and wool flooring collections, select a border style, pick a border, add your dimensions and see your finished rug in a choice of different interior settings.
We asked fellow rug lover and star of our Make Me A Rug video Kate Watson-Smyth a few questions about how rugs can transform your home.
Are you a rug lover?
I absolutely am! My house has no carpet and I love the look of bare boards covered in different rugs. It’s a great way to decorate your home as you can change the rugs as the mood suits and, in doing, so completely change the personality of the room.
Do you have rugs in your home?
Yes I have rugs in every room. A very battered vintage Persian one under the kitchen table, which hides a multitude of red wine and food stains, several similar ones layered up in the sitting room and a plain one in the spare room. The bedside rugs are the sheepskins that my children used to have in their pushchairs.
Tips on decorating with rugs?
Well rules are made to be broken, but there are a couple of guidelines that I think are important. Firstly, buy the biggest rug you can afford for the space. Secondly, in the sitting room (for example), a rug should be anchored by the front legs of the sofa (at the very least). A small rug under the coffee table that doesn’t touch any furniture creates an island and doesn’t pull the room together. If you have only small rugs then layer them up to cover a larger space. Or, as I said, one big one that fills the space to about 18inches from the walls.
The one exception I would make is if you have an unusually shaped rug – the cowhides and sheepskins – they can sit as islands because of their shape. Otherwise, the rectangles and squares should be large and luxurious.
Any rug trends that you’ve spotted?
I think, as with all aspects of interior decoration, we are getting braver and bolder in our choices and that’s great. If you’re being sensible and buying a plain sofa so that it lasts for years and goes with everything then have a bit of fun with the rugs. You can afford to be bold with rugs as it’s easy to move them around to other rooms or even to change them seasonally so you don’t have to look at the same thing all the time. We change our clothes with the weather so why not our soft furnishings? Our homes don’t’ have to wear a uniform. The geometric look has been around for a while and shows no sign of disappearing and I’m a big fan of Dotty, which I have on my stairs. We’ve seen stripes around for a long time and I think a move towards spots is overdue. Also, whisper it quietly, I think the patterned carpet is due a comeback but it will be done in a totally new and modern way.
What about layering – the more the merrier?
Layering rugs offers an easy way to add even more colour and pattern to a room or experiment with trends. Do you agree?
Completely (see above). Layering can be tricky to pull off though. So the general idea is that they must all be Persian, or all Kilims or all Dhurries or all carpets. You can’t mix the materials. Then, you can totally clash the patterns as long as there is a common thread in the colours to hold your scheme together. If you have wildly clashing colours then try to keep the patterns similar: geometric or floral or striped. As with all these things, it’s hard to know what works until you see it. If you are planning this look in your home then just keep experimenting until you feel it works. Then roll up the ones that didn’t and use them in another room.
What about size?
Don’t skimp on size – are rugs getting bigger or it is just our imagination?
As I said, rugs should be as big as you can afford. Small rugs dotted around look dated and create a series of islands in your room rather than one cohesive space. The rug is the anchor that holds everything down. In addition to that, small rugs are not inviting. A large rug should invite you to step on it, preferably in bare feet.
See how Kate gets designing her personalised rug with Alternative Flooring’s Make Me A Rug online service! Watch the video here:
The new Make Me A Rug Service has all the fabulous patterns from before but now they can be made into large rugs so they are perfect for any room in the house. There are lots of choices of border, so you can experiment to find the right look for you. Or, you can play it safe with the large range of neutrals but, if you do want to do that, can I urge you to have fun with the borders?
How easy did you find it?
It’s incredibly easy and user-friendly and I love that there is a choice of room photographs so you can see how a rug might look in a different space. There are also a variety of floors so you can tell how it will look on painted boards, or parquet for example.
Take us through your Make Me A Rug Experience
I have long been a fan of the Quirky B Zebo but knew that if it only came as a runner it wasn’t quite right for my house. When I realised that it was possible to make a rug from it, I didn’t hesitate. My only decision was in choosing the border. I couldn’t decide if black would be more subtle and allow the zebra pattern to stand out, or if a contrasting colour would be better. In the end I got samples of both so I could decide in real life and in my house rather than just online. You can see which way I jumped below….
Et Violà – here’s the rug and runners in my home!