All That is Gold Does Not Glitter

The Midas Rug has been a long time coming, but its finally here. The world’s 1st hand knotted rug coloured with particles of pure gold. Aulana uses pure wool and pure gold – no dyes at all, to create a range of Purples, Pinks and Greys.

The Aulana Midas Rug

The Midas Rug – Photograph by Marek Sikora

Wools of New Zealand, have introduced Aulana, a new luxury brand in which cutting edge science, wool and pure gold, combine to produce the ultimate exclusive textiles. The first Aulana product is the Midas Rug, a unique hand knotted rug. Ancient chemistry combines with modern science to create colours without the use of dyes. Fine particles of pure gold shift light into delicate shades of grey, pink and purple. The scientific process is called ‘localised surface plasman resonance’ . To understand this, think gothic cathedrals and their stained glass windows, which are often red in apparent colour – when, in reality, they are gold dissolved in the glass.

Mias Rug

Designed by SoFarSoNear and woven by Obeetee.

The Midas Rug, designed by SoFarSoNear of Milan and on display in their London showroom, is created to illustrate luxury and opulence, the rug does not glitter with gold, but rather uses gold to interrupt light and create elegant soft hues. Aulana is about creating an heirloom. Its products won’t be gold in colour, but gold is in there creating the hues that are visible. And because it is gold particles it is permanent, so, like cathedral windows, Aulana colours will never fade, and our ancestors can inherit an Aulana rug centuries from now and the colour will be just as rich.

Aulana Midas Rug

The Midas Rug from above.

Prof. Jom Johnston

Professor Jim Johnston – co inventor of Aulana. Photograph by Marek Sikora, tweaks by me.

I used to be a…

This pencil used to be a CD case.

This pencil used to be a CD case

Pencil from the Royal Society of Arts “This pencil is made from UK recycled CD cases”

The pencil is a brilliant piece of marketing. It allows the Royal Society of Arts (from whom I stole it) to gently remind its visitors about the need to be responsible in designing products.

There is no hard sell, no advertising, no interruptions, just for those observant enough, a though provoking piece of plastic that talks to the integrity of the organisation and asks the questions; Do you know where your materials are coming from? Do you know where they go?

If your product cannot be turned into something new, you have a design flaw.  What can we do with wool and textiles?

The Finishing Touch

The Finishing touch is how one of our customers recently described the rugs they manufacture.  They describe what they do as part of the experience a customer has not just of their beautiful New Zealand Wool rugs, but also of the total experience of the interior.

This focus on the customer experience is exactly in-tune with how we need to position our lovely New Zealand wool.

We don’t breed sheep, or shear wool, or spin yarn, tuft carpet or weave fabric.

If we want to be successful we have to think not as part of a process but as part of what it means to the end user to own our wool.

Our job is to deliver the ultimate experience with wool.  The feeling of walking bare foot on your soft new wool and knowing you have made a wise and ethical investment.

We in the wool business know how amazing it feels to walk on wool.  The challenge is to make people aspire to have that experience for themselves.   We could put wool carpet down at airport security so people have to feel the luxury but it is not the time that people are focused on home decorating.

We have to communicate the experience of wool in an era when advertising is already dead, and to consumers dotted all over the world.  Thank goodness for Blogs and social media.

Increasingly we rely on wool ambassadors, people who love wool and can spread the good word.  Interior Designers and smart retailers have the customer’s attention at the right time, and they really know how to apply the finishing touch.

If you are wondering about the customer, its Nourison, You can experience them here.

nourison wool rug

A lovely New Zealand Wool Experience by Nourison

Measuring the full lifestyle effect.

Measuring the full lifestyle effect.

Manufacturers of synthetic carpet fiercely push their eco-credentials.  Their websites are full of statements about how low their carbon footprint is and how their plastic tiles can be recycled.  All very noble but somewhat ironic.

What about the customer experience of the product?  How proud do people feel when they Facebook their friends to say.  “Hey I just got a new plastic floor covering!  Its’ made from real oil and it gives off wonderful static shocks.  Apparently it will only take 400 years to biodegrade!”

 Wool does so much more.

wool vs nylon

Wool on the left as opposed to the plastic tube of hardened oil.

A wool carpet will last for years, far far longer than polyester.

It will feel soft underfoot and its ability to absorb moisture from the air reduces the risk of static shocks.

Wool absorbs toxins form the air and locks them away, actually purifying the indoor environment.

Wool is fire retardant whereas synthetic products melt and give off toxic fumes (they are made from oil)

Wool is anti-allergenic.

And of course wool is an amazing heat insulator; Homes with wool carpets will feel warmer and dryer and have lower heating costs.

Shouldn’t the experience of living with a product be considered as part of its sustainability profile?    Shouldn’t a products environmental impact take into account the energy it saves for years after it is installed?

If a plastic tile claims a low carbon footprint, is it right to ignore the longer term failures of the product to do what wool can do for human comfort and energy conservation?

At the end of the day wool has been protecting sheep for thousands of years and has evolved to be a complex and highly technical fibre.  As clever as the oil man thinks his plastic fibres are he is still falling a long way short of what nature has built into wool.

Natural’s Not Enough

Natural Isn’t Enough

I come from a land where there are many more sheep than people;   a land untouched by Europeans until only 150 years ago.   As you can imagine when I left New Zealand seven years ago as a carpet designer I had spent my life working and living with natural fibres like wool.  I designed and exported beautiful wool carpets all over the world.   When you do something well it gets noticed so I was then asked to come to the UK to show the rest of the world how to create a business around excellence in wool product development.

The UK like New Zealand has a long history with wool, cotton and other natural fibres.  It was textile manufacturing that sparked the industrial revolution in Manchester which shaped the world as we know it.

For centuries man has been using wool to warm his cave and shelter his family.  The benefits of natural fibres were pretty obvious.

Roll on to 2013 and we live in a world where 97% of Americans are living on synthetic materials made from oil.  Today only 30% of Brits are living with wool and even in New Zealand, I am ashamed to say, people are choosing plastic based carpet with a small amount of recycled content and think they are saving the planet!

So it is blatantly clear.  Being Natural is No Longer Enough.

Wool carpets need to be acknowledged as a lifestyle choice that will have a positive impact on the health and comfort of our families.

Wool carpets remain the very best thing you can put in your home to create a warm and safe environment.  Wool absorbs indoor air contaminants like formaldehyde and locks it away for up to thirty years.  Wool carpets trap dust and keep it out of the breathing zone.  Wool carpets with a good underlay absorb shock and assist with posture, as well as being anti-slip.   Walk across a hard floor and then a wool carpet and hear the difference, or rather don’t hear it.

It seems that in focussing on colour and style, which of course wool offers more options for than any other material, we have lost sight of what really matters.  The comfort and wellbeing of human beings and the future of our planet.

Wool is of course the ultimate eco-warrior fibre.  Sheep in New Zealand grow a new fleece every year.   Wool is 50% carbon which means that it’s a carbon sink locking C0² away from the ozone layer.  New Zealand wool is the purest and most ecological of all and is only grown on free range farms under strict animal welfare, environmental and social standards.

Through the Wool for a Better World program.  At Wools of New Zealand we support the Heiffer foundation through the sale of wool carpets, we support the endangered Hector’s dolphin through the sale of wool fabrics and we support the Woodland trust in the UK through the sale of our recycled underlay.   On top of being brilliant at designing stuff, giving back to the environment through these activities and just being really nice people perhaps it is time to get active and shout louder,  perhaps it time we start a war on oil instead of a war for oil?

Let’s get reminding people of the many technical benefits of wool and try to stop this mad obsession with oil based plastic carpets and noisy hard floors.

New Zealand wool factory

Wool growing in New Zealand

Crumbs!

Crumbs!

How deep should sustainably produced carpets go? Much deeper than the pile.

Selecting something natural is a great first step on your mission to creating a green eco-interior, but knowing where the materials were grown, how they were cultivated, who got paid, what milk got spilled along the way should also enter the equation.

Laneve textiles tick all the boxes, and we can prove it… here
But what’s underneath the carpet?  You shouldn’t pick a green carpet and sweep the rest of the sustainability issues “under the carpet”.
What happens to the waste from factories that produce wool carpet?  If it’s a responsible producer they send it to a recycling facility like Anglo Recycling in the UK.  Anglo are taking the off-cuts from British wool carpet producers of New Zealand wool carpets and combining it with rubber crumb (also completely recycled from tyres) to create an excellent carpet underlay, CRUMBWOOL.

So Laneve customers can enjoy a total environmentally friendly and socially responsible product. This does not mean compromising on quality or performance.
Don’t forget wool has incredible insulation properties and won’t burn. This stuff is so good that it has just been installed in the New Zealand high commission in London, underneath a Laneve carpet by Flock – Natural Living.
Not only do the ministers, diplomats and dignitaries who enter the penthouse suite get an amazing visual experience, they also get a soft and quiet environment that has not compromised the environment.
Wait! It gets even better… Wools of New Zealand want to promote Crumbwool underlay as a responsible choice to enhance the experience of a Laneve carpet and to grow awareness of our brand. We have decided to give proceeds from the sale of Crumbwool to the Woodland Trust as part of our Wool For A Better World Programme.

crumbwool underlay

Crumbwool and Flock being installed at NZ House – Photo by Darren Keane

Wool Vs Synthetic

We can’t keep up our dependency on oil, I think everybody agrees with that now.  The great news is that we don’t need to use nearly as much oil as we do and still maintain a healthy luxurious lifestyle.   It turns out that non-oil based products are actually better for us anyway.

This info-graphic explains why we should use wool instead of oil to make textiles..

Wool vs Synthetics

Laneve wool from Wools of New Zealand is truly sustainable and turned into beautiful carpets and textiles by the world’s most innovative brands whereas synthetic or man-made carpets come from oil.  Petroleum based products can be recycled using more energy but the oil is non-renewable.

The Wool Story…

Our sheep have an annual haircut which provides the very best, fit-for-purpose fibre grown especially for Laneve carpets and interior textiles.

Laneve wool is grown in New Zealand on Free-range farms naturally producing high quality wool from grass.

Wool is a complex textured fibre with thousands of tiny scales which give it amazing properties.

Wool can absorb 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling wet making your home feel warm and dry.

Wool absorbs indoor air-toxins and locks them away for up to 30 years.

Wool is very hard to ignite and even if you can get it to burn if self extinguishes once the source is removed.   Synthetic materials burn easily, melts into flesh and gives off toxic fumes.

Laneve carpets are made from 100% wool which means the face fibre is completely renewable and recyclable.

We can turn it back into grass and begin the cycle again.  Wool contains sulphur and potassium and biodegrades slowly releasing nutrients and acting as an excellent soil conditioner.  Wool helps the soil retain moisture and speeds up plant growth.

Wool can absorb crude oil from the ocean and has been used to fill booms and clean up the oceans after oil disasters.

Sheep