Of all the items in our homes, floor coverings are among the hardest working. We want them to be practical – protecting floors and absorbing noise – as well as appealingly decorative. They should also feel comfortable underfoot and to the hand. Possibly most importantly, they need to handle a lot of traffic, so durability is key. Clearly there’s a lot to think about when choosing a rug.
So where do sustainability and responsible production come on the list? For Décoraii’s makers, they’re crucial considerations. While many modern rugs are manufactured in mass volumes using synthetic fibres, our producers take a different approach. By following the slow road, using traditional techniques and thoughtfully chosen sustainable materials, they create scene-setting rugs that make rooms inviting, comfortable and redolent of nature.
Kasthall’s Ängsmark Rug, designed by Ilse Crawford
At Décoraii, we work with producers who take great care in choosing where their rugs are made. They’re actively involved with their craftspeople and the environment they work in. For a company like Fabula Living, trading with integrity is essential. By working closely with weaving mills in India, it benefits from unparalleled craftsmanship that follows age-old processes. In return, it ensures good working conditions are maintained, pay is fair and child workers are never, ever used. Pieces from Knots Rugs are remarkable precisely because every step of the production process is done by hand – from carding raw wool to spinning the yarn, knotting the rugs and finally finishing them. This multi-step process allows many women to contribute to their family’s earnings and creates work opportunities in rural communities where income streams are otherwise scarce.
When you buy a piece from Rezas or Knots Rugs, you get their commitment to standards laid out by Label STEP. This non-profit organisation strives to protect workers in the handmade carpet industry. Among its 10 core standards are fair wages, healthy working conditions and prohibition of child labour. It also promotes sustainable and eco-friendly working practices.
Sustainable working practices are at the heart of Kasthall‘s ethos and all of their rugs are produced in their factory at Kinna in southwest Sweden. They place particular emphasis on longevity and the thoughtful use of resources and demonstrate a longstanding commitment to crafting sustainable rugs.
Raw natural materials
Behind the look, texture, performance and durability of every rug lie the raw materials from which it’s crafted. The growth, harvesting and processing of these materials directly affect their sustainability. Considerations including the use of water and fertiliser, impact on soil health, animal welfare and transportation must be taken into account when choosing fibres. Kasthall opts for bright white New Zealand fleece that doesn’t need to be bleached before dyeing, while Knots Rugs chooses high-lanolin Tibetan wool to take advantage of natural stain resistance. Look out for designs made from unusual but sustainable plants such as cactus and nettle that don’t need intensive cultivation.
Recork are passionate about creating sustainable rugs. As the brand’s founder, James Scully, says: ‘our products should give back to the planet more than they take.’ Recork’s SUGO range is made in Portugal, using cork harvested in the Montado forest. As cork oak trees hold up to five times more CO2 after their bark has been harvested, this an effective way to reduce atmospheric carbon.
Kasthall's production: cones of yarn (left) and wooden weaving shuttles (right)
Going the distance
It’s safe to say you’d struggle to wear out a rug that’s made following traditional principles and using hardwearing natural fibres. Durability is woven and knotted in, while timeless designs never go out of fashion. By using natural ingredients and age-old dyeing techniques, Rezas achieves durable colours that hold their own against wear and sunlight. Part of the joy of owning a rug of this type is watching it grow old gracefully and knowing it’s going to be handed down through the generations.
Taking care of the environment
If we rewind to a time before industrialisation, textile production didn’t have the heavy environmental footprint it does now. Rug producers who take sustainability seriously are well aware of the impact processes including bleaching, colouring, washing and fixing can have. Most look backwards to hand-working and pre-chemical methods to find gentler ways of getting the job done. That’s why Fabula Living rejects the use of chemical pesticides to repel moths and insects. To cut down on transport and allow small lots to be processed, Kasthall outsources dyeing to a facility local to its Swedish factory.
Kasthall rug on the loom
Much attention is rightly focused on the impact post-consumer waste has on the environment and it’s something we should all give thought to. By producing exclusively to order, Kasthall cuts overstocks out of the equation. A rug won’t be made unless it has a home to go to, meaning nothing languishes in a warehouse and there’s no waste product to be disposed of.
Getting raw materials and finished products from A to B when you’re an international business can be tricky, but managing the impact of shipping and packaging is firmly in the sights of many rug businesses. For Tacto, that means committing to the use of recycled cartons and plastic. Keeping air freight to a minimum is key for Fabula Living, which ships 99% of its goods by sea.
Kasthall's Golden Ash Harper Rug
You may also like to read our Sustainability and environmental statement. If you have any questions about the eco-friendly credentials of rugs in our collections, please contact us and we'll be happy to help.