In October 2016 during the UK’s Wool Week, an event organised as part of Campaign For Wool’s global celebration of all things wool, the world’s first Wool BnB opened to the public in London. Behind the blue door of a Georgian townhouse in De Beauvoir was a woolly haven, designed to create an inspirational experience: a house filled with a variety of wool products and artworks reflecting the diversity and versatility of the fibre.
The Wool BnB was designed and curated by interiors stylist Karina Garrick, who has worked with Campaign For Wool since 2010. Karina’s vision for the special event was to ‘showcase wool within a domestic environment, to make it instantly accessible and to communicate how many wool products are available for the home’. Karina adds that the Wool BnB experience successfully showed how wool ‘can enhance the health and wellbeing of the home and its inhabitants’ saying, ‘wool has so much history yet it’s full ‘future perfect’ potential is only just beginning to be explored.’
For wool lovers, enthusiasts and new converts to the cause, walking around the Wool BnB was a delightful visual feast and an open invitation to experience wool through touch.
Highlights from the Wool BnB included brightly coloured abstract hand-knotted rug artworks on the walls in the lounge by Allistair Covell and hand-woven rugs in the reading room by Angie Parker. Wooly blankets and throws from brands including Marks & Spencer and Wallace Sewell covered beds while cushions by designers Weftblown and Rowenna Mason were displayed throughout on chairs and sofas. Melanie Porter’s knitted upholstered lamps added to the textures on show, popping up in numerous rooms, as did the impressive Merino wool installation by Jacqueline Fink, which dominated one wall in the downstairs snug.
Wool rugs and carpets throughout the Wool BnB were supplied by companies including Alternative Flooring, who have recently collaborated with Liberty Fabrics, Brintons and Adam Carpets.
In the upstairs reading room light was provided by Janie Withers collection of knitted wool lampshades and the ‘wool-k-in’ wardrobe next door was a hit with fashionista’s. Clothes from contemporary designers including Paul Smith, Markus Lupfer, Sibling and Dashing Tweeds hung next to heritage companies such as Barbour, John Smedley, Jaeger and Adidas, all united in the pursuit of offering consumers the option of wool produced clothes. Sally Spinks’ hand tufted tattoo inspired ‘Mum’ rug added attitude.
Also upstairs in the maker’s room, flanked by carpet tiles by Edward Fields at Tai Ping Carpets, balls of wool in nearly every colour filled the shelves waiting to be used, and used they were as during Wool Week workshops, classes, talks and film screenings were held for the public.
Downstairs in the study a wooly wool map by Jessica Wheeler showed the different sheep breeds from around the world, while in the lounge a completely knitted English breakfast by artist Jessica Dance sat on the main table, looking good enough to eat. In the dining room a copy of the wooly newspaper The Wool Street Journal by Lucy Sparrow sat on chairs by SolidWool.
Outside in the garden the shepherds hut was filled with items that included a flat weave upholstered bench by Roger Oates (who also produced the memorable stair runner in the main house) that was draped with blankets by Scarlet & Argent and Melin Tregwynt and cushions by Vanessa Abuthnott.
Allistair Covell reports, ‘The Wool BnB experience was a positive experience for all involved; from the stylists who sourced the products and artworks and installed them, to the designers and artists who were able to see their work be part of a unique event, through to the members of the public who visited, or after Wool Week officially ended, were lucky to stay a night in the BnB. The concept of giving a house a woolly makeover was inspired and the result was a triumph. Wool is an exciting, sustainable, natural, high performance fibre, with many future perfect applications and during UK Wool Week there was no other place in the world that effectively showed this.’
‘The Wool BnB’, Karina adds, ‘successfully showcased that wool is the fibre of the future – a continuous part of our history and yet quietly revolutionary.’
All photos: Peter Dixon