The Dark Age of Carpet Design

Dark Age of Design

260 Years of Machine Made Carpets

Two hundred and sixty years on from the invention of machine made carpets the carpet industry has largely forgotten how to construct textile floor coverings from renewable materials.

For 192 years machine made carpets were made from wool. These carpets were made to last for decades, and they did.

In the middle of last century nylon was invented which meant that cheaper carpets could be created that used lower quality materials. In the worst examples carpets lost their ability to biodegrade, to absorb moisture and create healthy breathing zones and even became flammable.

Several generations of carpet designers and carpet sellers have been operating under the belief that wool carpets are improved by substituting 20% of the pile content with synthetic fibre. This is not correct, we have entered the Dark Age, and the wisdom of the past has almost been lost.

Nylon is added to wool carpet to meet a price point. The addition of cheap oil-based fibre allows yarn strength to be maintained with lower quality, cheaper fibre.   The nylon adds no benefit to the product, it only increases the visual appearance of wear as nylon is shiny and wool is dull.

A carpet correctly made from 100% good quality wool is going to keep looking good for years and years.  A carpet that is a blend of materials is not a smart or responsible thing to design, sell or buy.

The challenge for carpet designers is to think about the user experience, and the full life cycle of the products they bring to life. Carrying on with poor information is lazy design.

Good design considers form and function. The experience of a product should not just be about price point and a quick sale but it should consider the total experience a consumer will have.

 The ultimate carpet would be:

Visually attractive.

Constructed from rapidly renewable resources.

Be either fully biological or fully mechanical (either 100% natural or 100% synthetic)

Enhance the habitat of people in the home and office by filtering noise and pollution, insulating against heat, absorbing volatile chemicals, trapping dust from the breathing zone and reducing the rick of fire.

Long lasting in looks and performance.

Have a pre-determined plan for the end of its life as a carpet.

Consider both the environmental and social benefits of its supply chain

The world keeps pumping out 80/20 carpets under the impression that this is the best way to make a carpet and that is simply not true. 80/20 is better than plastic carpet and it still going to perform well and look good. But it is not as good as a 100% wool carpet and it is certainly ignoring the fact that nylon requires oil to manufacture and it takes 40 times longer to biodegrade than wool.

We should not keep making lazy design choices based on the fact that its always been done that way, especially as for more almost 200 years of the 260 years of machine made carpets it wasn’t done that way.

Below is a 100% natural carpet the way it is supposed to be done.

100% Natural Carpet

A 100% Natural Carpet in Buckingham Palace.

Conformity is an Industrial Disease

Innovate or Die (of industrial disease)

We all have the choice to make something special.  We can choose to make things Purple or make things beige.

Standing still, watching your competitors win and slowly moving from the heart of the industrial revolution into oblivion is a choice.   Samuel Pepys once wrote “Conformity is a social disease” As a textile designer I have to agree, as an innovator I would say…

  “Conformity is an industrial disease”

“It is better to be more wise and not be catched” To complete Pepys’ quote.

Keep making beige, me too, products and compete in the ever decreasing spiral of lower prices and lower profits..  Or break out of the commodity cycle with added value innovative “purple” products and services.

How to win and stay alive..

Understand Future Costumers

Deliver Outstanding Customer Experience


samuel pepys

Samuel Pepys with his purple scarf.

Sexy Authenticity

Enchanting your customers is essential to building your brand and selling products at reasonable margins.

Buying in bulk and selling at volume works if you are big enough, but it’s a lot of work and you will always be vulnerable to market fluctuations, volatile pricing and other beige products that copy you.

To break out of the commodity downward cycle we need to inspire people to engage with our brands.   A fancy logo and a mission statement is not a brand.  A brand is the experience that customers have with you and it is only as valuable as your customers believe it is.

A push mentality won’t build a brand and it won’t get people engaged with your product.

People no longer want to be marketed to and they no longer pay good money for average stuff.  People want to be entertained, engaged and thrilled by what they spend decent money on,  or they want a bargain.  People want to be enchanted.

People want to trust a product and a brand.  Knowing what value is being delivered, where the product was made, by who and from what are all important to affluent environmentally conscious consumers.

Make your product sexy, and make it authentic.

Make it renewable, natural, promote the benefits to the person who buys it and make it aspirational.

Use scarcity to your advantage.  If it is scarce it is harder to get hold of, and more treasured by those that can afford it.

Do you want to be all things to all people or special to a few people that love your product and are willing to pay for what only you have to offer?

The fabric below Blazer by Camira uses 100% Laneve wool from New Zealand which is traceable to the farms in New Zealand where it is grown.  The product offers incredible performance as well as being sensuous and colourful.

Blazer by Camira Fabrics – A Sexy and Authentic product