Wool Week at Somerset House

by theartofbespoke in News & Noteworthy

As the Wool House exhibition opens in London, we look at how this hard-working fibre works wonders around the house.

We all know it makes a great sweater, but wool is also one of the most stylish and versatile fibres you can use in the home. To raise awareness of this natural wonder-product, the Campaign for Wool has launched Wool House, a free exhibition that kicks off tomorrow at Somerset House.

The idea behind the campaign – which The Prince of Wales is backing – is to let people know that, when it comes to interiors, wool is about far more than tartan picnic blankets. In fact it works year-round, thanks to its natural ability to keep you cool in winter and warm in summer (did you know that sheep don’t have sweat glands? Their fleeces mean they don’t need them, apparently.)

Wool is durable – the carpets are an excellent choice for heavily trafficked areas, like hallways, as they’re so hardwearing. It’s also hypoallergenic, naturally fire retardant and gratifyingly easy to look after. The days of painstakingly handwashing wool pieces are over – these days it can usually be chucked in the machine and sometimes even tumble-dried. Its fibres have a protective layer that prevents them staining, and being static-resistant, it doesn’t easily pick up dust, either. And from an aesthetic point of view, it ticks the boxes as it holds dye so well, which means that you can find wool products in many vivid patterns and hues.

Wool House is a collection of rooms that have been styled by big-name interior designers like Kit Kemp and Donna Wilson. Curtains, cushions, flooring – even the headboards and beds are 100 per cent wool. You’ll also see everything from spinning demos to drop-in darning classes, and no doubt there’ll be a few sheep milling in the courtyard.

The event doesn’t just showcase the fibre, but also the artisans, designers and craftsmen who work with it. These include everyone from Conran to Colefax and Fowler. Vi-Spring, meanwhile, a company that uses more wool than any other bed maker, has supplied the beds in the nursery and master bedroom. Vi-Spring’s all-wool Devonshire bed – so named because it’s produced in the county using local wool – is filled with platinum-certified fleece wool. That might not sound the thing for hot August nights, but in fact it draws moisture away, which stops you waking up clammy. What’s inside our mattress isn’t something we often think about – mainly because we can’t see it – but it can have a huge effect on how we sleep. But if you’ve ever wondered what goes into yours, on Friday you can watch a master craftsman making one from scratch.

Wool House runs from 13-24 March at Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2. For details, visit www.campaignforwool.org

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