I’m currently updating my book, something I do every couple of years or so. It involves reading quietly through the 250,000 odd words of the text and making a few additions, deletions and amendments.
I’m currently buried in the section on floor coverings and it starts out with an overview of carpets. As I am reading it, it strikes me that almost no one fits carpets anymore. They have gone right out of fashion, ditched in favour of hardwood and tiles.
Yet the best material for carpet is…..sheep’s wool. Use sheep’s wool as an insulation material, and you’ll be a trend-setter. But put it on your floor, and you’ll be seen as some sort of weird throwback to the 1970s. Why?
It’s not just carpet. What about cork tiles? I use to love cork tiles and I fitted dozens of Wicanders Cork-o-Plast floors in the 1980s in various kitchens and bathrooms. But when was the last time you saw someone laying a cork tile floor? Or even saw a cork tile for sale? They are right out of fashion and yet cork is a natural and wholly sustainable material, just like sheep’s wool.
And timber? Everybodies’ favourite sustainable material, surely? Well, only in the right location, it would seem.
Untreated timber boarding is everywhere on the outside of new homes but almost completely absent from the interiors. Back in the 80s, it was the other way around. Matchboarded walls and ceilings (here's one I viewed this morning!) were de rigueur in fashionable bathrooms and loft conversions. But now they all look just so dated. How strange is that?
So whilst we might think that we live in an era when natural and sustainable materials are the height of fashion, on closer inspection it seems to me that it’s all much more about fashion for the sake of fashion, and that sustainable logic has little to do with it.
But then again, I used to covet coloured bathroom suites. Not everything in the past was rosy. Somethings were avocado.