Wool is a material we use a lot in our design studio. Boiled wool has a wonderful quality of being luxurious without being over the top. It is soft to the touch and not at all prickly.
Its hard-wearing quality allows our furniture to age well even with the traffic we see in our guest areas at Firmdale Hotels. Wool is also 100% natural, completely renewable and biodegradable. Wool naturally decomposes in soil and even releases nutrients back into it.
A few years ago, the stylist Arabella McNie asked me to create a room at Somerset House for a celebration of Wool Week in 2014. I designed a bedroom where everything in the room was created from wool. In the bedroom a white wool headboard was specially embellished by Pippa Caley, sewn with jewel colours. Even the London scenes by Anna Raymond above the fireplace were on canvases created on wool.
One way we love to use wool is as a ground cloth when we are designing a bespoke chair or a decorative cushion. At Brumus Bar & Restaurant at Haymarket Hotel we have cut out some cheerful fuchsia dogs of all breeds and sizes. The little poodle is a favourite!
In our bedrooms, we use contrasting kick pleats that complement the room scheme. We often choose wool for these valance fabrics as it is naturally resistant to creases. Each wool fibre is like a spring that bounces back to its natural shape after being bent. Wool is also naturally stain resistant which is also useful for valances as they need to be hard-wearing.
We have also used wool to cut out bold geometric shapes to stitch onto two of our own Kit’s Wing chairs that flank the fireplace in the lobby at Charlotte Street Hotel and the appliquéd armchair at The Whitby Hotel which echoes Joe Tilson’s Proof above.
Wool is best for these designs as it cuts cleanly and doesn’t fray. When dyed it is colourfast and we love to use intense and electric colours that contrast strongly against each other.
Wool can also be inexpensive so next time you want to give your chair a new lease of life, pick up a pair of scissors and get creative!