Wool Lifestyle

Our New Zealand wool has impeccable attributes. The integrity of the fibre is outstanding with a lot of effort being poured into its credentials as a truly sustainable material.

None of this matters if we forget to mention how wonderful it is to experience life with wool in your habitat.

Our wool is life enhancing. Wool is a fibre evolved by nature over centuries to provide warmth and safety. It does not melt. Wool won’t attract oily stains like some synthetic fibre.  Wool can breathe and moderate humidity making it great for asthma sufferers. Wool absorbs noise unlike hard floors. Manufactured right 100% wool products will outlast other materials and keep looking good for a very long time.

But what really matters is that wool feels lovely.

People aspire to luxury, and people like to feel good about their investments.  We have the fibre that delivers a luxurious and responsible lifestyle.

anika

 

Designing Smarter Textiles

Recently I was asked about the integration of electronics into carpets and textiles and what my ideas are to bring this inevitable merger together.

That got me thinking… Is it inevitable?

“Should we be designing smart textiles or should we be designing textiles smarter?”

Yes the Internet of things sees us all being ever more connected, phones are now wearable, your shoes can now talk to your smartphone. There will certainly be a continuation of miniaturisation, automation and personalisation that will make our digital lives seamless. But does it necessarily follow that everything will become smart?

Perhaps the true value of soft furnishings is comfort and style and a release from all things technological?

Anthropology cannot be separated from your future trend mapping. We have to plan textiles that will enrich people’s lives. Textiles need to respond to basic human needs before they can change the TV channel, and lets not forget that good health is a human need. Do we really want to plan a society that is full of lazy, gadget-dependent couch potatoes?

Textiles need to be pure, recyclable, ethically produced and beautiful. Once we master that we can soften the digital world by wrapping it in our woolly luxury.

I’m all for better homes and workplaces and better technology. Safety is a brilliant place to innovate new textiles that will monitor people and their habitats. Ultimately textiles are about comfort; from bearskins in our caves to sheepskin rugs by our curved screen TV’s.

Yes there is a trend to digitise life, but its one trend that responds to a sub-set of human needs. There are many trends that ignore digitisation. I’m not saying we shouldn’t develop smarter fabrics, I’m just saying we should always ask why.

The favourite chair in my house is in a room with no TV.  The furnishings in this space are about escape, switching off, comfort and colour.  Its a space for real human interaction.

Perhaps the smart way to design textiles is to keep them dumb?

 

Desso phillips carpet

Desso use transparent carpet which allows LED’s to shine through.

 

Radiant Orchid, Mauve and Permission to Innovate.

The market knows best except when it doesn’t.

It’s a nice safe strategy to be market-led.  Deliver your customers what will solve their problems and make their experience better.  But what if the market doesn’t know what is good for it.  What if the market makes beige and never experiments with Radiant Orchid (Pantone colour of the year 2014)?

What if the market thinks natural = sustainable and never tries to get better, smarter and more efficient?

perkins mauve

Perkins Original Synthetic Mauve

Yesterday I was lucky enough to see the very 1st synthetic dye ever produced, kept behind glass at Leeds University.  When William Perkins invented this he wasn’t following market signals, he wasn’t even trying to invent synthetic dyes. He was trying to create a cure for malaria!  But it turned out the market was tired of beige natural dyed potato coloured clothing.  A textile and chemistry revolution took off and the rest is history.

Funny enough the 1st synthetic dye was actually mauve or as Pantone call it Radiant Orchid.

We must listen to the market and be guided by its trends and the opportunities it demands.   We have to look far ahead of what the current market can tell us and build new innovations that will create new product categories and new industries.

Good market research and understanding your customer’s future needs gives you the intuition to innovate.    Permission is not required just get on with it.

radiant orchid

Pantone Colour of the year. “radiant orchid”

Guest Post – The Feldman Perspective

I’d like to introduce you to Brooke Feldman.  Brooke looks after digital marketing for Nourison who make brilliant rugs from New Zealand wool.   Brooke and I have been working together on some new ideas that we can share more details on soon.  In the meantime I thought it would be nice to get some fresh insights and views from a talented young American woman who is learning to love wool…

Here is what Brooke has to share…

Brooke Feldman

Brooke Feldman has something to say..

When the word rug or carpet comes in mind, what does it make you think of? For me, I go back to my grandma’s old house. She had this amazing white carpet that was soft to the touch and very plush. I loved to lay on it with my feet dangling in the air while I watched TV. Those memories in that little house come into my head now and then. As a digital marketer for Nourison, I’m thinking of my audience constantly and what an impact of a specific product or design we carry has that creates memories.

Nourison Industries is a leading multi-category resource in today’s floor covering markets. We specialize in area rugs, broadloom, home accents and have a whole hospitality division. We create everything from the everyday home design, to luxurious patterns seen in some exotic destinations in the world. It’s incredible the amount of collections we have and to see what our designers come up with every day.

I find myself walking around our showrooms running my fingers through different rugs. Why? Feeling and seeing our rugs gives me a sense of each customer and what design might fit a chic New Yorker, or a the adventurous sailor in Cape Cod. How each of these “finishing touches” is important to decorating: the icing on the cake to any room.

We think as a company about sustainability not just for the environment, but how a product can reflect a personal style and last for many years to come. That’s why we choose wool. First and foremost, over 95% of our floor coverings (over 64 individual collections) are made from wool and wool blends. As a carpet fiber, wool is non-allergenic, produces low emissions, and actually has air-purifying properties. Wool is natural, biodegradable, and renewable resource that is produced using environmentally friendly, energy efficient and safe methods.

The other factor we consider as a company is the positive impact of using wool, and how it helps us give back. Nourison’s wool processing provides sustenance for thousands of people in hundreds of villages throughout the world. Where sheep herding and cotton farming are a way of life, the animals are treated in these villages with care and respect. The natural materials are harvested and process with pride. Also, the best part about using wools from Wools from New Zealand is that they are universally acknowledged as the purest, whitest wools on the planet. Makes me want to have a pet lamb of my own that sits by me at my desk…either that or take a trip to New Zealand.

For us at Nourison, using wool has a double benefit. We care about the needs of our customers; what they need to make their home trendy, as well as provide a product that will never fail in quality. Likewise, using a natural fiber is a way of giving back to the environment. With a conscious eye on the sustainability of a collection, we continue to produce rugs that will never fail each of our customers. We’re going green whenever possible, how about you?

You can follow Nourison on Twitter and Brooke on Twitter…

Nourison’s website is here..

nourison logo

Click for amazing rugs.

kiwi sheep

Kiwi wool in Akaroa New Zealand

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.

Care Statement

According to sustainablebrands.com over 50% of global consumers are willing to pay more for socially responsible products.

This varies according to markets demographics, with European consumers being more skeptical than Asian consumers.  But the numbers are staggering.  People really do care about the integrity and the impact of what they purchase, at least half of them do anyway.

As with everything it’s about building trust.  People love brands that they trust and they will show loyalty and forgiveness.  Brands that consistently deliver a feel good experience will win every time.

Buying natural products supports rural farming communities, buying synthetic products supports the oil industry.  Maybe if people thought about this they would use more wool?

What we have to do is pull heart-strings.  It’s our job to build trust and to deliver integrity.  With real stories that resonate with the half of consumers who care.

Perhaps we need to stop making sustainability statements on corporate websites? No one cares what your carbon footprint is, that was last centuries obsession.  Make a care statement instead, but make it real.

More information on the Sustainable Brands survey is here

Gratuitous Heartstring Picture.

Gratuitous Heart-string Picture.