Spotlight on…our director Matthew Wailes
Monday 16th September 2019
Meet our director Matthew Wailes, who works with interior designers, architects and decorators, to create luxury carpet and rugs for discerning clients. From bespoke carpet to luxury rugs with a vast collection of design ideas, you can discover what we offer and the sort of service you can expect. You can also find out more about our new LuxuryEco collection, which will be showcased at Decorex in October. So read on and enjoy!
Why did you set up Matthew Wailes Ltd?
I wanted to create a specialised business offering the very highest quality handmade luxury rugs and carpets with a premium service to match. As a result, I could use my love and knowledge of the creation of bespoke handmade production and my wide experience in the luxury interiors market.
How has Matthew Wailes evolved over the years?
From just a handful of initial ideas, our luxury carpet and rug design library now contains hundreds of flexible options, giving designers a wide and varied choice. We have also added many different production types including hand tufted, hand woven, flat woven and pass machine. In addition, we can offer these for bespoke production as well as a good selection of high-quality standard lines.
What do you specialise in?
We design, develop, produce and install handmade, luxury rugs and carpets for interior designers, decorators and architects. However, we work for both residential and commercial applications on a project-by-project basis.
What can a customer expect if they decide to work with you?
We always offer a very personalised service; from estimating and planning, design and development, production and installation – in fact, I oversee everything. We tend to work with clients who are looking for exceptional quality from our bespoke carpets or luxury rugs coupled with our expertise.
Describe the bespoke offering:
We offer various methods of bespoke production:
Hand Knotted: (Nepal) This highly specialised craft features processes, which are all conducted by hand – from yarn spinning, dyeing, knotting, washing, stretching & finishing. Firstly, our specialists tie each individual knot by hand, horizontally, knot-by-knot, row-by-row, initially as a looped structure around a steel weaving rod. We can then cut areas to form a different texture before removing the rod. Following this, our experts bolster the rows downwards to create the required density. As a result, this bespoke production method is usually the most time-consuming. We also use many different fibre types: natural Nepalese and Tibetan wool, New Zealand wool, silk, bamboo fibre, tencel, hemp, cotton, jute, pashmina, mohair. We create the majority of our designs with hand knotting in mind and we can resize and recolour to suit.
Hand Tufted: (Thailand) We draw the designs onto cotton cloth, which we stretch within a vertical metal frame. Our specialists then tuft the yarn through the cloth using hand-held electric tufting guns. We then fill each area until we have created the full luxury carpet design. After this process, we remove the carpet from the frame to apply secondary backing and latex. Our experts then add hand finishing to the surface; shearing, hand carving etc to create different textures and enhance the design.
Flat Woven: (Thailand) We use beam, shuttle and hand looms in the creation of our flat woven luxury rugs – we have a wide range of loom widths up to around 8 metres, giving an almost limitless offering for this product type. We have no minimum quantity and can therefore produce one-off custom luxury rugs and stair runners, or larger fully fitted installations.
Why do you offer standard carpet lines and why would this interest a client?
We have a wide selection of standard carpet lines available in a number of different pile textures which complement our handmade offering. Typically, our clients will use bespoke handmade products as both luxury rugs and fully fitted luxury carpet for primary areas such as living spaces, master bedrooms etc. Then standard, usually less expensive stock products, for secondary areas. The fibres and finishes we use include New Zealand wool, faux silk and EcoNyl (recycled nylon).
What’s the difference between standard and bespoke flat weave?
Standard flat woven luxury rugs will normally only be available in a set width of perhaps 70cms or 4 metres and without the option to custom weave special sizes or colours. On the other hand, bespoke production gives customers the opportunity to choose custom sizes and colours.
What sets you apart from other brands?
We offer a wealth of experience, expertise and personalised service. In fact, we have more than 30 years' experience, working with the finest handmade luxury carpet producers and tradespeople.
Which state-of-the-art/traditional techniques do you use to create your designs?
Designs are created using a combination of photography, drawing and computer design software. For hand knotted design, we use software created in Nepal specifically for this type of weaving. So, luxury carpet and rug designs are created in the correct knotting. They are then passed over to the mill along with instructions for colour, fibre, texture etc for production to commence.
How can a client get an idea of what they have ordered before seeing the physical piece?
We use the same process for all custom production:
Design Selection: You can choose from our extensive online library or you may submit your own luxury carpet or rug designs for development.
Colour & fibre selection: We have literally thousands of colours to choose from. Clients can visit our showroom for a consultation or we can of course visit you. We have our new ‘Studio Colour System’ which contains 100 wool colours and 100 silk colours. We encourage you to purchase the box to use in your own studio. This process then allows you to choose design and colour selection without the need for a one-to-one consultation. We suggest you choose your fibres at this point so we can calculate prices.
Design & colour development: By means of our in-house computer-generated artwork and texture simulation. This method allows you to finalise the size and scale of your chosen luxury carpet designs and colours prior to having a sample made for approval. In fact, our texture simulation software will give a good interpretation of different textures and fibres; i.e. cut pile, loop pile, wool, silk etc.
Custom sample for approval: Once the luxury carpet or rug design visual has been approved and actual colours have been selected, we will instruct the mill to produce a sample for client approval prior to placing the full order. We can usually make samples to a size of 20cm x 20cm or 30cm x 30cm. However, we can also produce larger samples if required. We only use suppliers with their own in-house dyeing facilities so that we can retain full control. Custom samples usually take between two to four weeks to produce.
How long will it take to produce a luxury carpet or rug from start to finish?
Once the Custom sample/s have been approved and prior to placing any order, we consult with the mill for the estimated production lead time. As a rule, this will vary depending on production method, design complexity and luxury carpet or rug size. So, for hand knotted production, our average lead time is around 12-14 weeks. For hand tufted, you're looking at approximately six to eight weeks and the same time for flat woven.
What made you join Good Weave as a licensed partner?
Child exploitation within the carpet making industry has been a real issue for a long, long time. However, it was first brought to my attention around 15 years ago when I started my business partnership in Nepal. Poorer families and their children are being exploited and used routinely in regions of the Middle and Far East. In fact, child trafficking is also rife between communities and neighbouring countries. Therefore, it is not uncommon for children to be absent from their families for weeks or even months at a time, working. However, this is usually with the family’s consent, as a means of generating badly needed income.
GoodWeave work within a growing network of licensed partners and local authorities to help fight against this illegal trade. Their programme helps to identify illegal weaving by means of having feet on the ground in the affected areas. So, children can be removed from this harmful environment and placed in safe ‘transit’ homes. As a result, these provide safe accommodation and education whilst solutions are found to return them to their families. Therefore, the support that GoodWeave supplies must cover all aspects of rehabilitation.
The funding that GoodWeave licensed partners provide is essential to ensure that the organisation can continue with their vital work. So, a percentage of our imports goes directly to GoodWeave and this is a very small price for us to pay.
Describe your latest project:
Currently, Thailand is the world’s fifth biggest contributor to plastic pollution. In fact, for the past few years, and driven by dependency on the ocean’s sustainability, Thailand has been embarking on a project to clean up its shores. So, a major part of this programme is the removal of plastic waste from the seas. In addition, our Thai manufacturing partners (Carpet Maker) are working in cooperation with the Research & Innovation for Sustainability Centre (RISC) alongside upcycling plants. As a result, this involves the transformation of plastic bottles, retrieved from the seas, into textile fibre. Therefore, we are extremely excited and very proud to be involved with this project.
We are now using this fibre in the production of bespoke luxury carpet and rugs as a substitute for other fibres with a similar ‘handle’, such as silk, viscose, mercerised cotton and nylon.
The benefits of our upcycle fibre are not only environmental, however. They produce luxury carpet and rugs with a velvety soft texture, which are:
Easy to maintain
We use the fibre in the production of all luxury carpet and rugs manufactured at our production facility in Thailand. So, we are using this method for hand tufted, hand woven, pass machine and flat woven products. We will then launch a number of these new products at Decorex this October.
Why did you decide to take this route?
I was genuinely excited to learn of this new concept for luxury carpet and rug custom production. In addition, I know that we can harvest the equivalent of 100 clear plastic bottles for every square metre of carpet we produce using the upcycle fibre. So, this is a truly worthwhile path for our business to take as this can help to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean. In fact, we believe we are the only UK company using this fibre to produce luxury carpets and rugs.
How do you think this could change the carpet and rug industry in the future?
I would hope that this is just the beginning for the use of upcycle fibre within our industry; as with any product, we need to create demand. So, in the future, I can see the bigger standard carpet line manufacturers using the fibre to bring product to the high street.
How can people visit the showroom?
At present showroom visits are by appointment so clients should contact us to arrange a meeting.