Wool Feature 1: SolidWool

A close look at people who work with wool. This week focusing on SolidWool.

This is the start of a regular feature looking at people who use wool, whether they are designing knitwear or coming up with ingenious new uses, like these guys.

The first in this series focuses on SolidWool, an unusual one to start off with. Think of fibre glass, but with wool. Founders Justin and Hannah Floyd have created a fantastic response to an industry in decline. Buckfastleigh was once a thriving part of the woollen industry, but two years ago the Buckfast Spinning Mill closed its doors and 100 local jobs were lost. The local carpet factory also closed, meaning the sheep farmers had no demand for the coarse fleeces of their moorland sheep, so that it is now considered almost worthless, just a by-product of sheep farming.

“a strong, beautiful and unique composite material”

Justin and Hannah thought that if they could find a new way of working with wool, perhaps they could bring those jobs back. The result is SolidWool. They describe it as “a strong, beautiful and unique composite material”. Not only does SolidWool make use of a resource going to waste, but it scores points in the environmental area too. Their methods have been fine tuned over time to have the lowest environmental impact they can, however they maintain there is always room for improvement. The coarse wool used provides a tough natural and sustainable resource. Their wool is bought from local wool merchants, and whilst breed, region and quality are assured, in their plans for the future of their business they wish to be able to trace the origin of the fleece used. This would enable them to work with farms that follow sustainable practices, in-keeping with their own values.

Now resin doesn’t strike me as environmentally friendly, and traditional resins aren’t. Bio-resin however, which is used in SolidWool, claims a 50% reduction in Carbon Footprint and Greenhouse Gas Emissions over traditional resins. Not bad.

Milan 2014’s Designersblock approached Justin and Hannah to display their product, but they were still deep in their manufacturing process. This show gave them the gift of a deadline, and whilst the process wasn’t quite perfected, they traveled to the show with pre-production prototypes of the Hembury Chair. That show seemed to be a confidence boost, “it gave us the belief to keep going”. They gathered contacts, some of which ended up helping financially so that they were able to go to Designersblock 2015 with a product they were really proud of.

On their website you can currently purchase the Hembury Chair and side table, or a lovely sheepskin rug. They have also been part of a few collaborations, including some rather nice looking sunglasses with Fan Optics.

I hope they manage to fulfil their dream of bringing the wool industry back to Buckfastleigh.

The information in this post is gathered from the SolidWool website and an interview from Fiera magazine issue 2.

Nicer Tuesdays

If you haven’t heard of It’s Nice That, then you should definitely check them out. Nicer Tuesdays is an evening of talks on the last Tuesday of every month, curated by It’s Nice That, with four speakers talking around a particular subject. This could be anything, from food to fashion to favourite mistakes. The most recent one was based on publishing.

I have a bit of a soft spot for magazines as do most designers, so I was looking forward to hearing from Steven Watson, founder of Stack Magazines. A subscription service for all kinds of genres, Stack is not about what you are interested in, but about the best. According to Watson, print magazines are in their second golden age (the first being in the ’60’s), and this is all down to technology. With the large number of blogging platforms out there, huge numbers of people are setting up their own part of the web and writing. But what happens when you have a following, where do you go next? Come in the print mag: ‘blogging has become a gateway drug into print’.

Unfortunately, with this resurgence of print magazines comes a downside. Every single one of these magazines is in competition with each other, and every YouTube clip or news stream out there. It’s a nightmare for readers, how do you choose from all these magazines which probably cost around £10 each? That’s where Stack has found its market.

Stack began seven years ago, and Watson has gone full-time with it last year. There are a list of reasons on the website on why you should subscribe – saving money, getting more exciting mail etc. and I couldn’t agree more. ‘As we all now live in a digital world, our horizons are narrowed’ says Watson, explaining that by sending out magazines that you might not have picked up, you are broadening your horizons. I can’t wait for my first delivery.

David Hellqvist - Timberland

Up next was David Hellqvist, who is the fashion features editor at PORT. He was there to talk about his ventures at Document Studios, an organisation he co-founded to tell brand stories via unique content.

Continue reading “Nicer Tuesdays”

Map Projection

This is the end result of my time as a graphic design student at Kingston. The Degree show ended today, and so I wanted show my featured project, Map Projections.

A map projection is a way of displaying the world on a flat surface for easy viewing, so any map of the world that you’ve seen has used one projection or another. To flatten the world, there has to be some distortion, and with an unlimited amount of possible projections the distortion can vary greatly. On most world maps, it isn’t easily recognisable. The Mercator projection, for example, is most commonly used in UK schools, but on this map the whole northern hemisphere has been enlarged, exaggerating the importance of the countries that reside there (including of course Mercator’s birthplace of Belgium).



I wanted to create a way of seeing how distorted some of these maps are. What is so familiar that any change in shape could be easily recognised? The Alphabet, of course. I began mapping each letter of the alphabet to a different projection, eventually choosing the most interesting to include in my own atlas of distorted worlds.









Deadlines

Stress + no sleep + InDesign crashes + test prints + panic = Portfolio hand in.

I have mastered the art of editing photos and type whilst falling asleep every few seconds. Now to sort out the Degree show.