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Q&A with Roger Oates

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Campaign for Wool caught up with carpet manufacturers Roger Oates to discuss how wool is used on a daily basis within the business.

Please tell us a little about yourselves and how your business/designs/products utilise wool?

When Roger Oates, a graduate in woven textiles and carpet design met his wife Fay, also a textile graduate, at the Royal College of Arty they decided to avoid joining the ‘industry’ and set up their own studio making contemporary woven textiles.

In 1987, following a 10-year spell designing rugs, scarves and throws at the exclusive end of the interior and fashion trade, they formed their own soft flooring business, under the name Roger Oates Design.

25 years on the name Roger Oates is synonymous with flat woven signature stripe runners and rugs in 100% wool, supplying the top end of the interior design trade both nationally and internationally.

In 2011 Roger and Fay produced their first collection in 100% real Shetland Wool.  Today, they continue with fibre, yarn and design developments to incorporate more British wool into both their flatweave and Wilton flooring collections.

What makes you choose wool over other fibres? What is your favourite thing about wool?

Wool has an inherent spring, natural resilience and durability which is invaluable for floor coverings that are in daily use.

By what means do you source your wool?

We have been working with English Wool Merchants and yarn spinners to find an English blend of wool that provides a good spring but will also allow clear bright colours to sing through.

What does the Campaign for Wool mean to you?

The Campaign for Wool raises the profile of a natural, ecological and sustainable product that is globally available.

The interiors landscape is forever changing, what does 2014/15 hold for you as a brand?

Now that we have developed our blend of British Cheviot wool we will gradually be producing the complete Roger Oates flatweave range in this wool.  We have recently launched a new collection of flatweave runners – The London Collection and are currently working on collections for 2015 and beginning to think about 2016.

Fabric technologies, particularly those using wool have advanced so rapidly over the last few years, has this affected your trade and work?

We have always used 100% wool for our stair runners, they are still made on traditional, narrow powered looms.

How does using woollen cloths differ to other man-made materials?

Wool has a natural spring and flexibility which means that our 100% flatweave runners can be fitted on to stairs with winders and the stripes can be aligned.  It is rather like upholstery, perfect tailoring for stairs.

What demand have you seen from your customers with regards to favouring wool over synthetic fibres?

Our flatweave stair runners  have always been in wool.

Are there any plans to introduce more wool in to your collection?

Our flooring collections are already in 100% wool, but we have recently introduced a range of 100% Shetland Wool runners in natural colours into the collection.  We  would like to introduce a woollen fabric into our fabric collections. We also have a lifestyle collection that utilises a selection of our flatweaves – carpet bags, stools and benches – we are continually looking for ideas for new lifestyle products.

To find out more about the Roger Oates interiors business visit http://www.rogeroates.com/

Roger Oates are taking part in the Wool Collection: Interiors at Southwark Cathedral during Wool Week. Read more about the exhibition at http://www.campaignforwool.org/news-item/the-campaign-for-wool-interiors-collection/

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