From London cloud to Stockholm sun and back again!
We are back safe and sound from the most fantastic trip to the offices and weavery of Pappelina.
The name comes from Papper (Swedish for paper!) and Lina, the founder and creator, hence Pappelina and yes the company started as a weaver of paper, then cotton and linen and then, some 17 years ago, Lina moved into plastic. Now Pappelina is renowned around the world as being the leader in the design and production of plastic rugs, in fact their rugs are almost collectible!
Now we know plastic sounds horrible but we must remember there are many, many types of plastic and all vary in look, feel, strength and purity. We don’t really understand the exact chemical mix of the plastic used but we can tell you each rug is made of 90% plastic foil ribbon made in Sweden and 10% warp thread made in Germany. Both producers aspire to the highest quality and environmental requirements ensuring no hazardous metals nor harmful softeners are used in any part of the production processes. As everything is produced in either Sweden or Germany you can be assured everything is documented and confirm to all EU regulations, mostly governed by ECHA* through the REACH program designed to reduce to the absolute minimum any health and envitrionmental risks posed by chemicals. (* ECHA is the European Chemicals Agency that heads the REACH regulation. REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals.)
So enough of the tech stuff and onto the visit…from Heathrow we flew to Stockholm and then took the amazingly clean and efficient SJ train from Arlande to Borlange, just over 2 hours, time to sit back and admire the Swedish countryside including the frozen lakes though sadly there was no snow. We were met at the station by Lina and her right hand person, Louise, where, together with other Agents from Germany, Denmark and Czechoslovakia, we all piled into a specially rented minibus and it was off on our magical mystery tour to the weavery.
Based in Darlana, a Swedish province of around 300,000 people, the weavery remains family owned and run and is one of the last remaining in Sweden and, of course, the best! Employing around 30 people everything but everything is still done by hand, it is a totally human experience from beginning to end!! To see people work with such passion, care and diligence was truly a pleasure!
The plastic arrives in the factory in rolls rather like sellotape. First it is placed into a special room to be kept at an ambient temperature for several days making the plastic more malleable and easier to work. The next step is to place the rolls onto a simple spinning machine that then speedily turns the ribbon onto what is known as a bobbin ready for the next stage…the Jacquard!
Now the Jacquard loom is simply amazing with a lot of history behind it! The first one was developed in 1804 by a Frenchman, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, and uses interchangeable punched cards that allow you to weave any pattern you desire, within of course the limits of the weaving process itself. Certainly the machines Pappelina use don’t quite date back that far but they are old, solid and riveting to watch as well as extremely noisy!! The bobbin shoots from left to right and back capturing the downward plastic threads into the colour and pattern punched into the card. We timed it and to create one row of the circle style shapes you see at the bottom of the picture below takes just over a minute…so 10 rows would take 10 minutes plus of course the spaces in between so already we could begin to understand just how much time and effort goes into making just 1 rug let alone hundreds!
From the loom the long rug roll is then taken to the cutting room to become many shorter and more manageable rugs! Here the rug end is first lined up by hand on a long flat table to be sealed and flattened by a frequency welding machine which, basically, melts the end together, in a very smart way, so it doesn’t come undone! Then, and this really is the amazing bit, every single rug, no matter how long, short, wide or thin, is cut to the chosen length using just a hand held pair of strong sharp scissors, a steady eye and a straight aim! Watching the team work with such confidence, speed and efficiency again opened our eyes to how much personal attention and skill is put into each and every rug.
Once cut it is then folded, in a special way to avoid creasing, and taken to the next and final part of the production process, the Quality Control room. Here each and every rug ever made is quality tested by a team of real living and breathing human beings who check by eye every inch, or centimeter, of the rug, on both sides, and we mean every inch, or centimeter. The attention to detail, to ensuring only perfect rugs are then approved for sale is unbelievable, a true sign of the love, passion and care given to every single Pappelina rug no matter the size, the colour or the design.
And from the QC area it’s then off to the warehouse where we were particularly struck by how clean everything was, not a speck of dust to be found anywhere, a lesson for us we think! Here, as you can see, the rugs are folded in a special way, nothing complicated but just enough to stop excessive creasing which, whilst all creases will drop out quite quickly, never looks too attractive when the rug is first laid out. From here the rugs are now sent out all around the world as, whether hot, cold, wet or dry a Pappelina rug will fit and last anywhere!
For the evening we were taken to the Tallbergsgarden Hotel in Tallberg, a well known holiday area, overlooking a beautiful lake with hills in the distance. As you can see in the top left picture below everyone was busy with their cameras taking advantage of the brilliant blue sky, stunning views and bright colours. Once at the table we ate typical Swedish fare including some freshly caught Cod which was the most succulent and tasty we can ever recall, truly a feast fit for Kings and Queens!
The next day we were up bright and early to drive a short distance to the offices of Pappelina, the nerve centre of the business where it all happens; the creativity, the strategy, the decisions, the future course of the business. All in all it’s a small team that operate from here but a team that is focused, on song and all wanting the best for Pappelina, their products and their customers. All in all it was a visit full of inspiration and we left wanting to do even greater and better things for 2016 so watch this space!!
To be inspired and see the complete Pappelina collection please visit our webshop at www.homearama.co.uk
Thanks for reading 🙂