Monday, March 8, 2010

Old becomes new again

Can you remember linoleum floors? I can remember both my Irish grannies having lino floors in their Belfast homes. Maybe that is why in my mind linoleum has always seemed old fashioned. Yet Linoleum is made from renewable resources and is biodegradable making it a good environmentally sustainable choice for flooring. 

A number of years ago I was ill for a long time. During my recovery I would visit the library and select books to help me pass the time. Since then I have continued the habit. I always select a number of books on design. Last week I found a great book on Linoleum by Jane Powell. The 1920's and Retro images are from the book.
Frederick Walton an English rubber manufacturer invented Linoleum in the 1860’s. It is made from linseed oil, wood flour, rosin, cork powder, quarried lime stone, jute, natural tree resins and pigments.
When vinyl flooring became popular in the 1960’s the old fashioned styles and colours of linoleum fell out of favour. In recent years architects and designers have encouraged the eco friendly lino makeover. It is now available in about 100 colours and a range of patterns and textures. 
Linoleum cost more than vinyl, but is cheaper than many other flooring materials. However lino does last longer, does not show scratches and scuffs, it is waterproof and fire resistant. Lino can also help indoor air quality and has antibacterial properties. It can be easily cleaned without harsh chemicals. This makes lino a great choice for use in hospitals, clinics and surgeries.

With so many materials creating the sick house syndrome linoleum can be a healthy alternative for flooring in the home.
I read this quote by James Baldwin in a biography on Morris West 

‘History … does not refer merely, or even principally to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways and history is literally present in all that we do’  

I believe this is true of interior design. Understanding the past can inform our present. The old can become new again.

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