Dezeen Magazine

Solidwool creates fibreglass-like chair from sheep fleeces

UK-based company Solidwool has created a material made from a mixture of wool and bio-resin, which has been used to create the Welsh Mountain Hembury Chair.

Solidwool's Welsh Mountain Hembury Chair has been shortlisted in the furniture design category of Dezeen Awards 2023 thanks to its characterful seat, which is formed out of a fibreglass-like composite made partially out of wool from Welsh Mountain sheep.

Black sheep standing next to a chair
Welsh Mountain sheep are a native UK breed

The chair's principle material comes from Welsh Mountain sheep, which have grazed in the valleys and steep hillsides of Wales for centuries and have either dark or light-coloured fleeces.

They are bred for its meat as opposed to its fleece, which is too coarse to spin into wool for knitting and too difficult to dye and is subsequently often disposed of.

Close up shot of the chair's seat
A spectrum of neutral-coloured fibres run through the material

"[Welsh Mountain fleeces] are plentiful, yet there is little demand for this coarse, robust and wiry wool," Andy Gaurd, creative director of Solidwool, told Dezeen.

"[The breed is] native to the UK, so it is important to keep these sheep and their shepherds in the landscapes they belong."

Complex webs formed from strands of wool are offset by the chair's simple composition

The fibres – an entire fleece's worth per chair – are mixed with bio-resin, a binding material that contains 50 per cent bio-based renewable content, which are byproducts of industrial processes such as bio-fuel production and paper making.

The resulting composite aims to provide an environmentally conscious alternative to injection moulded plastics, which are commonly used in chair design.

"When you see the Solidwool material, it draws you in," Guard added. "You can't help but want to touch it. It plays with your mind."

"Your eyes see the texture, yet your hands feel the smoothness," he continued.

Chair on white backdrop
Ashwood legs support the seat

Thanks to its organic nature, each chair has a unique marbled appearance that celebrates the texture of Welsh Mountain wool, with a simple composition that allows for the material to stand out.

The seat is supported by four hand-turned British ash wood legs, which are available in either dark scorched or lighter, oiled finishes. A recycled steel frame combines the seat and legs into a sturdy, characterful seating solution.

"The Hembury is a unique chair which celebrates and showcases the possibilities of a wool composite," Gaurd explained. "It is designed to be cherished and be handed down through generations."

Chair on white backdrop
Each Solidwood chair has a unique seat pattern

Alongside the wooden-legged Hembury Chairs, the brand also offers a stacking chair with slim chrome-plated metal legs as well as a series of side tables with Solidwool tabletops. The material is also sold in sheet formats which can be used in a variety of applications.

Other chairs on Dezeen made from unique materials include a compostable chair by Prowl Studio and a chair made from waste coffee bean shells by Mater Design.

The photography is by Christopher Cornwell.