Solidwool are an inspirational small design studio in Devon who have found an innovative, stylish (and now very colourful) way to use a material previously going to waste.
It’s a name that’s been on my design radar for a while for a variety of reasons. They’re based in a part of Devon we visit frequently to see friends, and I’ve also seen their work at design shows and in-store in Heal’s. (Solidwool were included in the prestigious Heal’s Discovers Collection in 2017).
And now I see they’ve introduced these fabulous new colours as part of their range. This burnt orange, rich turquoise and soft green could not be more CBT. (I mean, just take a look at the colours in our logo). These happy hues make my heart sing!
So, who and what are Solidwool? The story starts when Solidwool founders Justin and Hannah Floyd observed the decline of their home town of Buckfastleigh. Once a thriving centre of the woollen industry in Devon, the town had grown quiet as manufacturing moved elsewhere . And they wondered if they could do something about it, by using wool in a totally new and innovative way.
So Hannah and Justin set themselves the challenge of finding a new use for this unwanted, yet widely available, material. The result was Solidwool – a unique composite material very like fibreglass, but much more environmentally friendly.
Solidwool uses sustainable wool instead of glass as the filler, and eco-friendly bio-resins as the binding agent. (This is instead of the more traditional resins made from petrochemicals with their associated toxicity).
We want Solidwool to be considered as a sustainable alternative to today’s petrochemical based structural reinforced plastics.
These days, the vast majority of fleeces from sheep reared for meat are considered a virtually worthless by-product. Historically widely used by the UK carpet industry, demand for this type of wool has declined significantly. However, huge quantities are still produced by sheep farmers all over the UK.
Justin & Hannah chose to make Solidwool primarily from the dark, wiry fleece of Herdwick sheep, the iconic breed of the Lake District. They say:
This wool is something special, but along the way, something has gone wrong and its perceived value has been lost. It is currently one of the lowest value wools in the UK. Once this wool was a major part of a shepherd’s income. Now the wool from one sheep sells for around 40p.
[…] But we see a beauty in this natural material and want to help see its value increase. The Herdwick flock and their shepherds are custodians of their wild landscape. We want to help them stay that way.
When used in Solidwool, Herdwick wool is beautiful, producing a dark grey composite with the lighter guard hairs standing out.
You’ll find a small selection of products on the Solidwool website, including the Hembury Chair (above) and Side Table. Smaller items include Solidwool placemats (below) and coasters.
You can also buy these gorgeous sheepskins tanned in Buckfastleigh in one of the oldest tanneries in the country.
Solidwool are also open to collaborations using their new material, and have worked with a diverse range of designers and brands on projects for both products and interiors. Pictured above are a knife handle for Blok Knives and glasses in collaboration with Fan Optics (how cool are they?).
I hope that Solidwool go from strength to strength. They’ve created a beautiful, versatile product that utilises a natural, sustainable material that’s terribly undervalued and we look forward to seeing what their next adventures in wool will be.
Visit their website to read more about the Solidwool philosophy, product and processes, also to shop online or to contact them if you’re interested in a collaboration.