Q&A WITH JOANNA RAMSDEN ON THE CREATION OF THE NEW LAWTON YARNS SHOWROOM

13 September 2017

To celebrate the official opening of the new Lawton Yarns showroom last month, we asked Joanna Ramsden, who designed the showroom, about the creative process behind the development of the space and why she is passionate about using wool in her designs.

Joanna Ramsden is a Consultant Textile colourist and designer who has been involved in the wool carpet industry for over 30 years. She is also the Creative Director for Brockway Carpets.

What was the main aim when designing the showroom? 

Lawton Yarns has been spinning woollen yarn for over 100 years and the aim of the showroom was to open up the mill to help people understand the processes involved in spinning wool and provide an inspirational space that would promote the natural benefits of wool to ultimately encourage retailers and homeowners to ‘choose wool.’

There is such a high level of expertise and precision involved in the production of woollen yarn and so little is known about it outside of the industry. We therefore wanted the showroom to explore the processes involved in yarn spinning as well as promote the importance of yarn in the creation of the final product.

Yarn is key to any textile product as it dictates the colour, style and texture of a product. The quality of a yarn is pivotal to the quality of the carpet and Lawton Yarns has invested heavily in their state-of-the-art facility to be able to produce the highest quality yarns and meet these needs.

The challenge with the showroom was to convey the benefits of wool and inspire more people to choose wool for their flooring in an engaging, informative and creative way – and I think the end result has achieved that.

How did you develop the showroom design? 

The majority of the design was dictated by the nature of the space. Ravens Ing Mill has a long history and the showroom needed to marry this heritage with the forward-thinking, innovative nature of Lawton Yarns.

One of the most stunning features in the new showroom is the exposed original beams which are illuminated by industrial lighting. We then introduced more modern wood and glass into the space, blending the old with the new to create a light and modern feel in the showroom.

We wanted the showroom to be a flexible space that could easily be updated to reflect the latest design trends and styles, always keeping it fresh and the podiums of carpet will allow us to do that. The team at Lawton Yarns had a strong vision for what they wanted the showroom to achieve and their team worked tirelessly to transform the space from an old-fashioned meeting room to a spacious showroom which even features a bar and balcony!

Wool has been a popular fibre for textiles and flooring throughout the ages and will continue to be so. What we wanted to do with the showroom was put the focus back on the floor and inspire visitors with all the different textures, patterns and colours that can be used to bring floors to life in both commercial and residential settings.

What’s your favourite thing about wool as a material?

Wool is an incredibly versatile fibre and its natural properties make it extremely enjoyable to work with. This beautiful fibre can be used in so many different ways helping to create both chunky textures and intricate patterns. The fact that is can be dyed to any colour in the spectrum, or even be used in its natural un-dyed state inspires eclectic opportunities. Wool’s practical benefits including being flame retardant and easily cleanable mean it is ideal for modern day life. Sustainability is top of the agenda for many businesses and consumers and as a naturally obtainable material, wool really is the ultimate sustainable fibre.

What is your favourite part of the showroom?  

Most definitely the wall of colour which features over 850 poms of woollen yarn in multiples shades of colours. This stunning array of colours is designed to inspire visitors to think about different colours and patterns that can be created and showcases the breadth of shades and types of yarn that Lawton Yarns can produce.

The wall of colour is the first thing you notice when you enter the showroom and because it’s the top of the yarn that’s on display, rather than the loop, you see the brightest, most colour-saturated burst of the yarn and the overall effect is simply stunning.

Each pom of yarn can be removed from the wall which not only means it can be updated with new colours and shades as trends change but it also makes it a more interactive experience for visitors.

What are the key trends in carpet design at the moment? 

There are two key trends in my view, the first would be experimenting more with different textures. Carpet manufacturers are increasingly using undyed yarns to showcase nature, using a loop pile. This is there woollen yarn comes into its own creating some gorgeous, chunky ‘feel good’ textures. I’ve seen a lot of varieties of natural colours are being combined to create a subtle, overall natural look and feel for rugs and carpets. When it comes to creating texture the yarn can do all the talking, especially when using thicker felted yarns.

The use of bold patterns is also undergoing a revival, helping to inject colour and creativity into the home. Stripes used to be the pattern of choice for those wanting something a little more daring when it came to flooring but we’re seeing a lot more geometric patterns in stairways and walkways throughout the home.

People are starting to think more about what they put on their floors and rightly so! Just as builders start with the foundations when building homes, we need to start with the floor when designing the interiors. Most people tend to start with the walls – choosing colours and wallpaper patterns and flooring tends to come last. The floor connects the walls and should be the basis of decorating the space. It’s a difficult message to get across but making carpets more appealing and promoting them as an integral part of interior lifestyle is a good starting point.

Manufacturers are also starting to think more about colour – which is why the wall of colour in the showroom was designed.

How do you think the wool carpet industry can promote the benefits of wool carpet to the consumer? 

The new generation of first-time homebuyers generally aren’t as aware of the benefits of wool so there’s a big job to do in educating them around the natural properties of wool. When they go into a carpet shop, there’s tendency for them to be drawn to synthetic carpet but the truth is that wool also offers the easily cleanable and soft touch benefits of synthetic brands with the added benefit of being sustainable, fire-retardant, long lasting and breathable.

When it comes to reaching the consumer, educating the retailer is key. When speaking to retailers I always emphasise the importance of showcasing wool carpet in context. So rather than displaying carpet on a separate floor to the rest of the interior accessories and furniture, feature it all together to encourage them to buy wool and how it integrates with modern design to create a truly stunning finish. We need to get more creative as an industry in how we get the message across and really get people excited about the benefits of wool.

The Wool Carpet Focus Group is launching a Why buy Wool Carpet marketing campaign at the Harrogate Carpet Show. The “Step Inside” leaflet advises consumers about the benefits of wool carpets and familiarises them with the many wool carpet ranges available – suited to all preferences, tastes and price points.

As a dedicated space for inspiration and information about woollen yarn and carpet, the Lawton Yarns showroom will be an amazing resource for manufacturers and retailers to come and discover the benefits of wool.

You can hear more from Joanna about the benefits of wool carpet when she takes part in the panel discussion, “Wool…why is it the best natural fibre for use in carpets and rugs?” at the Harrogate Flooring Show on Sunday 17th September at 3pm.