How Has Carpet Evolved?
Humans have always had the desire to protect their feet from the cold by covering flooring with carpets. In prehistoric times, animal furs and hides were used for this purpose. As time went on, however, other materials were used instead to cover floors, offering improved comfort and durability.
The Earliest Carpets
As far back as 6000 BC, woven materials were used to make rugs. Animal fur and wool would be spun and woven to create floor coverings. The earliest type of knotted rug, known as the Pazyryk carpet, was woven around 464 BC, and it featured all of the essential elements of the modern-day Persian rug.
In the early days of carpet production, traditional materials like wool would be woven by hand, but as time went on, improvements in weaving and design introduced other patterns and styles.
Persia became the centre of rug production, and it was here that the famous Ardebil carpet (now residing in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London) was made in the 16th century. During this time, other countries such as India and Morocco started creating rugs, and during the 17th century China became renowned for its rug weaving.
As rug weaving became more common, each country created its own unique style of carpet, used for different purposes. In many countries, rugs were confined to the homes of the rich and wealthy only.
In Europe, rug weaving took off in France in 1608, and in England, the first carpet factory was built in Wilton in 1655.
Advances in Technology
As time has gone by and technology has progressed, carpet production has evolved enormously. In particular, the advent of the Industrial Revolution saw carpet manufacturing become much more commercialised. Rather than woven by hand, most carpets today are made through tufting, which involves passing threads through a primary backing fabric. Tufting is completely different to weaving, and it originated in the USA. Tufting machines were fast and efficient and made carpets more affordable than ever before.
A wider range of materials, colours and styles also became more common over time in carpet production. Synthetic materials and dyeing methods were increasingly used to meet the rise in demand for different types of carpet. The first man-made fibres used in carpet production in the UK were introduced in 1947, with nylon and acrylic proving popular choices.
With greater interest shown in house decor by the general public, changes to carpet fibres and manufacturing processes, carpet is now more affordable than ever before. And what was once a traditional one off purchase has now quickly become a fashion item and a lynchpin of interior decorating and house colour schemes. A high quality and carefully considered carpet can really affect the impression and atmosphere a room emits.
With the rise of modern synthetic materials in carpet production, many manufacturers look to simulate the look and feel of traditional wool carpets as wool twists are considered a classic and timeless choice. This practise is becoming even more common as new synthetic materials are becoming increasingly soft, durable and stainproof.
Many of the methods and materials used today are designed to ensure the carpet offers durability. Chemical treatments are used in the production to ensure carpets become resistant to stains and wear and tear. This is reflected in the longer warranties that are increasingly being offered by many carpet manufacturers.
Carpet trends do, however, come and go. Deeper-pile carpets, such as Saxonies, are especially favoured at the moment and offer excellent comfort and warmth.