Turns Out Prince Charles Is Surprisingly Passionate About Wool
A little over a decade ago, Nicholas Coleridge, the former international president and chairman of Condé Nast, found himself at a dinner at Clarence House, the official residence of the Prince of Wales. “He gave a great speech saying that the world was moving against wool at exactly the wrong time,” Coleridge recalls, referring to the heir to the British throne, who is more commonly known as Prince Charles. Flash forward to today, and Coleridge is helping to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Campaign for Wool, an organization founded by the Prince of Wales with the simple goal of promoting this natural and highly sustainable fiber.
“It started off briefly as an English thing,” notes Coleridge, who is today the global chairman for the organization. It didn’t take long, however, for the effort to expand to commonwealth nations like New Zealand and Canada. It’s that Canada connection that is in fact integrally linked to the campaign’s current celebrations: Using wool sourced from the North American nation, the nonprofit has launched a capsule collection of three new rugs, each of which is available to purchase through Sykes & Ainley.
“The mission of the Campaign for Wool is to knit together, pun intended, partners from every level of the value chain and this project is a great example of that,” Matthew Rowe, CEO of the Campaign for Wool Canada, explains to AD PRO. Rowe was just one of a cast of characters who became intimately involved with this ambitious project. Another key player was Sarah Richardson, an interior designer who served as the designer for the trio of rugs.
“Doesn’t every designer jump at the chance to tackle a project based on unbridled creativity to support the passion project of HRH the Prince of Wales?” she asks AD PRO rhetorically. “It’s not exactly your everyday client brief, so I certainly embraced the [proposal] with enthusiasm.”
That it is certainly not. The collective intention, Richardson adds, was to construct “wool rooms” in which the rugs would shine bright. It was also a huge team effort, with more than 7,000 people involved with the Hampton rug alone. Viewers of the final photographs of the products would also be hard-pressed to miss a fourth item—a 100% wool bust of Prince Charles commissioned by the Campaign for Wool and designed by Canadian fiber artist Rosemarie Péloquin.
In terms of production, the various involved parties turned to the Creative Matters in order to make their plans a reality. Company president Carol Sebert points specifically to the Hampton rug as an example of a particularly difficult but stimulating commission. “I would say that working with the image of the garden was fun because we started with a photograph provided by Sarah,” she says of the process. “Through the design process, we distorted the image, playing with it so it [feels like] a garden path without any floral imagery.” While the Origin rug is an ode of sorts to the raw nature of the wool fiber, Sebert notes that the Highland runner was inspired by hazy afternoons in the Scottish countryside.
It is Coleridge, however, whose passion for wool is most readily apparent. “What we really try to do all the time is fight against synthetics,” he says of the campaign’s overall efforts. Later on, he adds, “Almost everything that is beautiful and long-lasting is made from wool.”
Coleridge, whose love of textiles also relates to his ongoing work as the chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum, notes too just how versatile of a fiber wool really is. Far from being a material just fit for wintery suits, it’s more than capable of making up carpets, not to mention, other interior design features such as lustrous drapes.