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.
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!
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