In­te­rior de­sign

A new spirit of creativ­ity is kick-start­ing an ex­cit­ing re­vival in car­pet, says Amelia Thorpe

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

Step into com­fort and lux­ury as we ex­plore the car­pet’s come­back and the finest floor­ing

The Con­naught ho­tel might be as­so­ci­ated with some piv­otal mo­ments in his­tory, most fa­mously when gen de gaulle stayed there when he made a broad­cast im­plor­ing his coun­try­men to fight the ger­mans af­ter France’s sur­ren­der. how­ever, it also plays a sim­i­larly im­por­tant role in the re­nais­sance of the fit­ted car­pet; it was here that de­signer In­dia Mah­davi took the de­ci­sion not to lay—hold on to your hat—pat­terned car­pets, a choice as­so­ci­ated more with Wether­spoons pubs than West end ho­tels.

as is so of­ten the way with ho­tel de­sign, the scheme proved hugely in­flu­en­tial, in­spir­ing con­fi­dence in some­thing that had long gone the way of av­o­cado baths and macramé plant hang­ers.

If the en­tries for next week’s In­ter­na­tional Wool Car­pet & Rug awards are any­thing to go by, the re­newal of in­ter­est has pre­cip­i­tated a frenzy of creativ­ity and in­no­va­tion on the looms at Kid­der­min­ster, Wil­ton and axmin­ster. ‘We’re see­ing the most ex­tra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion of in­no­va­tive new car­pet de­signs, in colours, tex­tures and pat­terns,’ says Brid­gette Kelly, In­te­rior tex­tiles Di­rec­tor of the Cam­paign for Wool.

take one look at the inspirational pat­terned ef­fects of the lat­est de­signs and it’s clear that car­pet can add in­stant vi­tal­ity to a space, ban­ish­ing those pub pat­terns to the past (as well as use­fully hid­ing marks). the vi­brant Lib­erty Fab­rics de­signs en­cap­su­lated in al­ter­na­tive Floor­ing’s Quirky B wo­ven car­pet or the so­phis­ti­cated geo­met­ric, trel­lis and or­nate plas­ter­work pat­terns of the Royal Bor­ough Wil­ton Col­lec­tion from axmin­ster Car­pets are ev­i­dence of that, as are the joy­ously colourful stripes of Roger oates’s flatweave run­ners. the marled, as well as solid, colours of anta’s Ben­bec­ula car­pet would add a cer­tain soft­ness to many a mod­ern rus­tic in­te­rior.

If you pre­fer some­thing nat­u­ral, sev­eral man­u­fac­tur­ers now of­fer undyed car­pet, cel­e­brat­ing the va­ri­ety of colours of wool from dif­fer­ent sheep breeds. Light grey herd­wick from the graphite range by Wools of Cum­bria Car­pets de­serves special men­tion: it’s made from all­nat­u­ral fi­bres from sheep graz­ing on the fells, undyed and un­treated and man­u­fac­tured from raw ma­te­rial to end product within 100 miles of the cen­tre of Cum­bria.

tex­ture is adding plenty of in­ter­est to the mix, too. Con­sider the eye­catch­ing chevrons in Cru­cial trad­ing’s Fab­u­lous col­lec­tion, with its grad­u­ated pile depth and rip­pled ef­fect un­der­foot, or the wire-weav­ing em­ployed in Sculp­ture from Wil­ton Weavers, which uses a sin­gle­coloured yarn to cre­ate a high-low tex­tu­ral ef­fect.

the other rea­son, of course, that car­pet may be en­joy­ing a re­nais­sance is its com­fort, warmth and soft­ness un­der­foot. Com­pare it to a cold stone floor or bare floor­boards and car­pet scores high, but is it less for­giv­ing in a busy home? ar­guably,

yes, but as a nat­u­ral, sus­tain­able fi­bre, wool bounces back af­ter pres­sure from feet and fur­ni­ture, re­tain­ing its good looks. Car­pet also of­fers good in­su­la­tion that’s per­fect for the draugh­tier abode and ab­sorbs sound, mak­ing it a par­tic­u­larly good choice for stairs, land­ings and hall­ways or a house with sev­eral floors (and thun­der­ing chil­dren and dogs).

In the bed­room, car­pet is hard to beat for sump­tu­ous lux­ury and it’s good to see even the 1970s favourite shag pile get­ting an up­date from Bronte Car­pets with its 100% wool ver­sion, of­fer­ing pile depths up to an im­pres­sive 40mm (11 ⁄2in) for an ul­tra-lux­u­ri­ous feel.

Wool also ticks the sus­tain­abil­ity box: as long as there is grass to graze on, ev­ery year, a sheep will pro­duce a new fleece. At the end of its life, nat­u­ral wool fi­bre takes a very short time to break down, re­leas­ing valu­able nu­tri­ents into the ground, un­like syn­thet­ics, which are typ­i­cally very slow to de­grade.

Ac­cord­ing to the Car­pet Foun­da­tion, some 75% of all wool pro­duced in the UK goes into car­pet. Ten years ago, there were 21 mil­lion breed­ing ewes, but, to­day, there are only 14 mil­lion, so it fol­lows that buy­ing wool or wool-rich floor­ing should help slow the de­cline of sheep num­bers.

Car­pet has a his­tory dat­ing back 2,000 years (the world’s most an­cient pile car­pet is the Pazyryk rug, dat­ing back to the 4th or 5th cen­tury bc). Good news in­deed that it now looks set to en­joy a fresh lease of life.

Above: The Quirky Dotty car­pet in Dam­son from Al­ter­na­tive Floor­ing (£104.80 per me­tre; www. al­ter­na­tive floor­ing.com). Above right: The Coburg bar in The Con­naught

Flax­man Ruby, £127 per me­tre, Roger Oates (020– 7351 2288; www.rogeroates.com)

Fab­u­lous Ruby, £154 per me­tre, Cru­cial Trad­ing (020–7376 7100; www.cru­cial-trad­ing.com)

Hound­stooth in heather, £69.99 per me­tre, Brin­tons (01562 635665; www.brin­tons.net)

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