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Wool House - Somerset House

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by Chris Henniker (subscribe)
There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
Event: -
Let's play a word association game. I say a word and you know what to do. Here we go: "sheep." Get those dirty thoughts out of your one track mind, do yew want to be arrested for speciesism? They'll take their revenge on you. I've seen how they're doing it at Somerset House, which is all about living well.

Living well? The Wool House exhibition is living proof that aside from being traditional, their wool is also about innovation. As soon as you step onto the wool carpets, it feels like you're a cat making bread in The most cutting edge decor and interior designs today. The end results are opulent and elegant as they are cutting edge.
Strikingly corporate and opulent, this is a man cave meets boardroom.

Take a look at this elegant man cave. The red & grey looks very 1980's boardroom, but the edge has been taken off with the use of wool based furnishings and candelabra, giving it a feel of kitschy luxury. Masculine without being macho.

Sound deadening?


Anne Kyrro-Quinn's showcase room demonstrates the versatility of wool with three-dimensional panels that are practical, sound deadening and simultaneously sculptural, minimalist interpretations of an arras that Polonius hid behind when hearing Hamlet's betraying Gertrude. Even Tom Blanks of Style.com agrees: "

"Wool is both the tool of the artisan and food for the machine- it's fibres stretch between past and future, between a handknit with centuries of reassuring tradition and a hybrid fabric that can privocatively mimic the finest silk, between environmental sustainability and cutting-edge science. What more than an artist ask for from his or her raw material?" Here cutting edge design and traditional craft are fused with loom demonstrations, which show craft skills can still be relevant in a post-industrial society.
Even so, some craftsmen are using digital printing to explore new possibilities. The runner, a carpet used to line a corridor looks like it has been made up of woollen pixels seem close up.

"If wool is the king, silk is the queen, cotton the aunt and linen the uncle." Dame Vivienne Westwood tells us, showing us if it's good enough for a jumper, it's good enough for Winston Churchill's suits.
Still used in the digital age.
One of the most popular exhibits was a chair upholstered Mongolian Longhaired Sheep fleece, which my cat, Lilli , would love sleeping on. It was so tactile and fluffy, I could take a leaf out of her book and fall asleep. Now that's what you associate with sheep.
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Why? The biggest ever celebration of wool
When: 13 - 24 March 2013
Where: Somerset House Trust
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