Back in early March, I met up with the Audrey and Deirdre from The DnA of Home Interiors Podcast.
The DnA of Home Interiors is inspired by the journey of two driven Irish Business Women, Deirdre Mc Gettrick and Audrey Whelan. As professionals in the home interiors market, Deirdre and Audrey demystify the home interior design process and empower people to make confident interior design decisions for their home.
It was a great conversation which covered all sorts, from rugs, colour, materials, nature and biomimicry, my design process, weaving and rug prices…. and I thought I’d share some notes from the Podcast with you.
The conversation kicked off with Deirdre asking about my design inspiration. She’d read that "nature has always been my biggest inspiration. Observing its rhythms of light, shadows, colours, textures and scale and understanding its effect on our wellbeing is something that I'm instinctively drawn to."
I grew up in Guernsey in the Channel Islands and I guess just being surrounded by nature, having a dad who is a fisherman, so being out on the sea and living life at the beach, it's something that's always been with me very instinctively. I think about the changing environment, the weather and the tides, and how these natural rhythms and cycles influence how we see things around us. And how the colours that we see affect how we feel.
We also talked about the personal nature of colour and the concept of Biophilic design, which is all about the positive effects that nature can have on our emotions, and how we can take ideas and inspiration from the natural environment and bring this connection with nature into our homes to make us feel good. This discussion around wellbeing and happiness in interiors is something that also particularly interests Audrey, so we talked about this for a while and it led us onto sustainability and materials.
We work predominantly in natural materials, but it was our new collection of recycled plastic bottle rugs that Audrey and Deirdre particularly wanted to know more about.
Plastic waste is something that I think is so important to address. I recognise that using plastic and recycling it is not the ultimate answer. We need to think about not using so much plastic and not generating it in the first place. But, we currently have all this plastic waste and it's great to find new products that we can repurpose that for… This collection of rugs that we have created in collaboration with Momo Rugs is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles and we use non-toxic dyes for colouring the yarns.
I took some samples to the studio during the Podcast recording so that Deirdre and Audrey could take the ‘look and feel’ challenge to see if they could recognise which rug samples were made from recycled plastic and which from wool…. the agreed consensus was that it was really difficult to tell the difference! The repurposed plastic yarn is a wonderful fibre. Despite being generated out of something hard, crisp and crackly like the plastic water bottle, it is transformed into something tactile and akin to wool. It’s also water resistant, so these rugs are great for use in kitchens and bathrooms as well as outdoors.
Deirdre was keen to know more about the various rug options and different styles of rugs available. Well, the look and feel of rugs can vary a lot not just due the yarns and fibres used, but also due to the weaving styles. One style of rug weaving, and a popular rug style, is ‘tufting’. Tufted rugs are made using a modern technique that creates a cut pile finish, similar to traditional knotted weave rugs, by using a tufting tool. This technique creates a rug pile that feels springy underfoot and a lovely sumptuous feel. Knotted rugs are the crème de la crème of pile rugs. Woven entirely by hand, individual knots are woven around warp threads, then cut to create the pile. These rugs are designed to last for generations. You can read more about these different rug weaving techniques and watch our short video, here.
Price is an important consideration for customers, so of course Audrey and Deirdre were interested to know how the tufted and knotted rugs compared on price. Tufted rug prices are significantly lower than knotted rug prices due to the techniques used and the time is takes to weave each rug. A knotted rug takes about 12 weeks to be made. We talk more about rug prices towards the end of the Podcast, so if you are curious about this, tune in to listen.
We also talked about flat weave rugs and using different textural and material variations in designs. And, a very important question Deirdre asked was about different rooms and what might influence buying decisions, especially when it comes to the question of durability. Audrey’s interior design experience flagged customers’ hesitance about spending on a rug if they have got young kids and pets, and the need something hard wearing for high traffic areas.
Wool is a wonderfully durable fibre, so wool is suitable for many spaces including high traffic area such as a hallways or living rooms, and it creates a really beautiful soft surface for children to play on as well. Wool naturally traps dust and fibres near the surface, so you can easily vacuum out most surface dirt. Our flat weave rugs are also incredibly durable. The wool and linen flat weaves are designed to be suitable for commercial interiors as well as residential spaces. And our recycled plastic bottle rug collection has the advantage of being washable.
Thinking about how to keep rugs clean and fresh, Deirdre reminisced about an old-fashioned image of a lady with the rug thrown over the washing line beating the dust out with a baton! Nowadays, a vacuum cleaner is a far easier and better way to care for your rug.
Deirdre also asked about colours fading in the sunlight. Yes, all colours in bright sunlight do have a tendency to fade over time, so we recommend that customers rotate their rug periodically so if there is any fading this will be even across the rug.
Another consideration a lot of our customers ask about is under-floor heating. And which rugs should they choose if it's for on hard floors with under-floor heating? Our recommendation is to choose a thinner rug, for example the flat weave rugs or the knotted wool rugs because they are a little thinner and have a shorter pile, so you're not trapping so much heat under the rug. Natural fibres are also the better choice as they are naturally breathable. The tufted rugs are quite a bit thicker due to having a latex backing layer that fixes the yarns and this can create some obstruction of the heat. You can find some more info about this and other FAQs, here.
Our conversation moved onto the topic of nature, wellbeing and biophilia – something more and more talked about these days. Our human-nature connection can create real and positive benefits to our wellbeing, and biophilic design is all about bringing references of nature into the home to create these measurable, positive benefits to the people living in that space. There are many quite obvious ways to do this, such as bringing plants indoors, having natural airflow, natural light and beautiful views of the countryside. But not all of these are that easy to achieve for many of us. And there are other ways too – like with colour and pattern. We talk for a while about the idea of drawing colours from nature and how referencing patterns that we see in nature (something referred to as biomimicry) can also benefit us as it enhances our innate connection with nature.
One of the most important things for our customers is colour. Colour is such an emotional and individual thing. Deirdre asked about our custom design service because this is the perfect way to get the colours just right for your home. Colour is so personal and customers are often buying a rug to fit into their current colour scheme and may not be able to find an off the shelf option. Custom rugs are very popular and we work with customers who want to customise the colours as well as those who want to create something bespoke.
When it comes to customisation, we can also make rugs to any size. We had a useful discussion about ‘what size rug to buy?’ during the Podcast and talked through some of the pros and cons of larger or small rugs. Plus, all the different factors that come into this decision, such as the furniture, the flooring, the size of the space, what the room is used for, under-floor heating etc. This topic is discussed about 30mins into the podcast, and if you need more advice on this you can also take a look at our rug size guide.
One of Audrey’s last questions was about my design process. As a designer herself, she was curious about how I come up with ideas for new rugs and how I work. There are lots of ways that I enjoy working. I take photographs of the natural landscape, I sketch ideas and create mood boards. I have a design wall in the studio where I collect all sorts of materials, images and bits of colour that I'm drawn to that I want to explore. This is a very organic design board that changes day-to-day as I move things around and work on ideas. I collage with paper and work on the computer, but that's usually further down the line once I've got ideas together and I'm exploring something in more detail. I also work at the loom. I weave samples for our fabrics and rugs and play around with colours on the loom, and explore colour interactions. When you mix different colours and different fibres together, you get quite different results. And when you start combining colours in different proportions and mixing in other colours, the combination becomes something quite different.