Lorna Haigh, the creative and marketing director at Alternative Flooring
Alternative Flooring celebrates 25 years of fabulous floors. We introduced our nation to a world of exotic natural fibres, embraced the wonder fibre wool, collaborated with some of the greatest designers and iconic brands to create award–winning joyful patterns. From now until the year end our IG will share landmark products, favourite projects, creative campaigns and memorable moments as we celebrate this incredible journey. The Alternative adventure continues with exciting times ahead.
Q&A with Lorna Haigh, creative and marketing director, Alternative Flooring
When did the story begin?
In the 90s, natural fibre flooring started to become popular in the UK. It was very much claimed by those desiring the cottage and country look and back then, Coir was definitely the firm favourite.
Alternative Flooring’s bespoke Coir Herringbone Natural rug
How many collections do you now have?
We have over forty carpet ranges but they fall into categories; and there are so many different textures. Sustainable natural plant fibre Coir, Seagrass, Sisal and Jute; Wool a chunky and fine look; Stripes & Patterns; eco Barefoot our deep pile handmade luxury carpet and Faux our man-made fibre offer.
Alternative’s collections seen clockwise from top left: Jute Herringbone Natural Carpet, Quirky B Margo Selby Ribbon Magenta Carpet, Sisal Bouclé Brockton Carpet,
Quirky B Honeycomb Duck Egg Carpet and Sisal Bubbleweave Desert Bubble Carpet
How important is a British brand today?
Very. Alternative Flooring is a British company with a history of craftsmanship and a spark of curiosity that inspires flooring to be different.
I hope that Alternative has changed the way people feel about their floors…. One of our new marketing lines is ‘flooring you fall in love with.’ It is something we feel strongly about. Our carpets have oodles of character.
So many man hours and resources go into making a carpet. The process is a lengthy one and one not often explained. Carpet is a textile like no other. It is designed, fibre sourced, made into yarn and then woven or tufted. And then backed. For us it is never ‘just a carpet’.
Our beloved textile has a worth that is why we charge for samples. For years, the carpet industry has done itself a dis-service. Pile it high, sell it cheap…. that’s not what we are about. There is a pride in the making, the crafting or as we like to say manu-crafting.
Tell us about your favourite campaigns.
Oh, the Pink Cowboy Boots… when the new owners bought Alternative Flooring in 2004, we really played up to the Alternative name and produced a campaign which involved unusual shoes and feet on carpet. It caused quite a stir… and got us noticed. It’s a great memory.
Images from Alternative’s ‘Feet’ campaign
The Be Campaign followed in 2010; with appealing messaging Be Natural, Be Bold; Be Inspired. Simple but clear statements which gave our brand and products personality.
Name a few milestones along the way?
Alternative really started paving the way in 2008. We developed some new stripes called Rock ‘n’ Roll. There were other stripes in the market place, but we looked at it differently. We gave the carpets fun names, Wild Thing and Roxanne and were adventurous with colour. Rock ‘n’ Roll won its first award in dark greens, bold red. We won the prestigious Homes & Gardens magazine design award in 2008, a first for carpet.
Roxanne and Wild Thing from Alternative’s Rock ‘n’ Roll collection
Many of the milestones are technology based. We were early to Social Media – our first Facebook post was in 2010! Our Instagram full of gorgeous in-situ shots has more followers than some of the big high street flooring names. It is all organic growth and authentic followers who are very engaged with our great creative content.
Follow Alternative Flooring on Instagram at @alternativeflooring
When did you introduce pattern?
In 2011 we launched Quirky our first pattern collection of runners followed by the broadloom (full width) version in 2014. It is so exciting to bring pattern to the floor. Divine Savages who have Flowers of Thorpe Quirky B x Liberty Fabrics in their home have publicly started ‘The Patterned Carpet Appreciation Club’ on their Insta!
Alternative’s Quirky B Liberty Fabrics Flowers of Thorpe Summer Garden Carpet and Flowers of Thorpe as seen at the Divine Savage’s home.
Are we braver with pattern and colour?
Oh, yes, I think so… people have always loved a bit of pattern on the stairs but now it is considered for living spaces and bedrooms too. Pattern with a capital P as it is Practical too!
Who are your collaborators?
We work with the very best in terms of agencies, stylists and photographers and also partner with some great interior savvies like the award-winning Kate Watson Smyth.
What are your red-carpet moments?
The first big one was the Homes & Gardens Award for Rock ‘n’ Roll 2008; then becoming the first flooring company to become a CoolBrand in 2014 was just amazing. Our entry in the book followed Apple! The Gold House Beautiful Awards for Quirky and the recent Design Guild Mark Award for Quirky B x Liberty Fabrics.
What are the best-sellers?
All our product categories do well. There is something for everyone, a textile floorcovering for everywhere in the home; now including kitchen and bathrooms and even outdoors with our Anywhere range.
What are you most proud of?
The Alternative people. We have been bold and passionate and we haven’t been afraid to try new things – sparkly carpet – who’d have thought? We have embraced new technology and applied new thinking.
Alternative’s Barefoot Wool Quartz Rock Carpet
Also, being a strong supporter of the Campaign for Wool. Wool is a wonder fibre. Renewable, inherently fire retardant, anti-static, soft underfoot and a natural insulator. Its properties need to be championed and Alternative is a vehicle where we can make this happen. This year we supported emerging young talent with both the Campaign for Wool and British Wool.
Fibonacci by Louisa Knapp, limited production carpet for Alternative Flooring
We celebrate difference… our new strapline ‘different feels good’ embodies what we stand for. Our customers care about what products they put in their homes and as we care too, it is a love match.
AND I have to say seeing a gem of an idea come to life in people’s homes. The number of people who have exclaimed that their Alternative carpet is the most favourite thing in their house. This brings me pure carpet joy!
Describe Alternative Flooring in three words…
Different, Considerate but Fun.
Alternative’s Quirky B Margo Selby Button Black Carpet
We have just been through a pretty immersive brand identity experience… and we will have a new website and new look brochure for 2021. It is all about YOU, your homes and of course how our fabulous floors look in your homes.
We will be talking more about the people making our product, where they come from, how they are made. Carpet is a pretty amazing thing!
See more of our designs and explore our collections here
Follow us on Instagram for inspiration.
Find more flooring and interior design inspiration on our Alternative blog.