Alternative Flooring: Authentic Lucienne
Posted on February 23 2018
Visiting the Alternative Flooring factory in Wilton to witness the production of the Authentic Lucienne Collection.
So often we see beautiful finished products and designs without ever thinking about the processes and craft that go into creating them. Have you ever thought about how a carpet design comes to life and how the mesmerising patterns can be so perfectly interwoven into its creation? I had the great pleasure of being invited by Alternative Flooring to visit their Wilton site to answer all of these questions and have the experience of witnessing the production of the Authentic Lucienne collection, iconic 1960's designs come to life all these years later. History in the making.
Touring the factory, we were able to witness the stages and skill required to create a carpet design. Amongst the vast machines of swirling arms and spinning cylinders were infinite lines of coloured wools, suspended above our heads, slowly being fed into the machines in the distance. Upon inspection, a roll of patterned carpet was miraculously being created, line by line, similar to that of a printer at home to create an image. The strands of multicoloured wools that were being fed into the machine were, in fact, being cut with the swing of an arm, neatly applying them to a backing to form a single line of carpeting. As the next row is applied, slight movements are made to allow colours to be fixed in different positions, creating the pattern we see in the carpet and floor runners.
Joining us on the tour was Paula Day, daughter to Lucienne Day, the creator of the Wilton Royal ‘Architects’ Nova’ range back in 1964. These bold geometric patterns were designed to complement the spatial qualities of modern interiors of the time. Over fifty years later, two of the selected patterns 'Octagon' and 'Squares & Diamonds' are returning back into production, a collaboration between Alternative Flooring and Paula Day to ensure the designs remain exact replicas of the original thing, from colour matching to the original hand-drawn pattern designs. Seeing the overwhelming joy on Day's face as her mother's designs were being reproduced in the very same factory fifty-four years later was incredibly moving, something that everyone in the team must be incredibly proud of. As the finished carpet runner was placed on display, it was amazing to see how timeless the design was, easily fitting into a contemporary home of the style conscious.
Leaving the Wilton factory, guests made their way to the New Art Centre, an impressive gallery and sculpture park at Roche Court in Wiltshire. The gallery and surrounding parkland represent a large collection of artists including Barbara Hepworth, Kenneth Armitage and Ian Stephenson to name a few and there was one work in particular that we had come to see. The second carpet design 'Octagon' with its original blue and green hues has been given pride of place, sitting beautifully next to Robyn Denny's 'Madras' 1961 in the gallery space for visitors to experience for themselves. The exhibition of Day's work at the New Art Centre is a homage to her incredible talent and contributions to the industry. Thankfully, due to the reproduction of the Lucienne Day works, many more will be able to enjoy the designs for years to come.
View the video above to watch several processes of carpet creation during our visit to the Wilton factory including the carpet tufting, finishing, drying and quality checking.
The entire day was an incredible experience and I feel so privileged to have witnessed an iconic design return to production from such a loved British textile designer. It may not be something that we notice every day but next time you look down at your feet and you see a carpet below, remember the amazing journey it has had to take to get to your feet.