Milliken & LSE

The London School of Economics and Political Science is one of the world’s foremost universities for the study of social sciences. Having first opened its doors in 1895, this iconic school has become renowned for its prolific academic research and its impressive alumni, which to date includes 18 Nobel Prize winners and at least 34 prime ministers, presidents and premiers.

The facilities team at the LSE called on Milliken to provide the flooring for the lower ground floor phase of its £12M refurbishment program of the library at its West London campus. Working with ArchitecturePLB, their objective was to improve the student experience in the library by creating a welcoming and flexible working space.

‘We were already aware of Milliken’s impressive sustainability credentials, however when we asked them to create the design range in custom colours delivered to a tight time-scale, it become clear that their service capability was just as impressive.’ Nick Garwolinski, project manager, LSE.

The design team for the library refurbishment wanted to create a bright and open space with the aim of ‘bringing the outside in’ by using colours and materials that would promote a sense of warmth and wellbeing.

To help achieve this look, Milliken’s Colour Compositions carpet planks were chosen with customised colours in a range of reportedly soft, natural looking greens and stone greys, intended to harmonise with the rusts and orange tones of the soft furnishing fabrics.

Using the Millitron carpet patterning technology, the Milliken design team was able to create the  colours required while still meeting the demanding delivery deadlines required for the project, Milliken says.

As Milliken’s Millitron digital design system doesn’t rely on the availability of specific yarn supplies, the company says it is able to create and deliver carpet consistently and to some of the fastest lead times available in the industry. Today, as part of its quick ship programme, around 1500 Milliken design and colour options are said to be available within 10 days from order placement for quantities of up to 1000sq m and with a minimum order of one box.

For the LSE library project, while the Colour Compositions range was available as part of its quick ship programme, Milliken says it was able to improve even further on this service by creating the design with custom colours and still deliver within the 10 day window. The fact that Milliken continues to operate throughout the summer period was reportedly particularly helpful to this project, as it is for many higher education summer refurbishment projects. For buildings in the UK higher education sector, a supplier’s environmental credentials are now vital to specification approvals and the LSE’s expectations were no exception. Milliken were reportedly able to assure the LSE and architectural teams that sustainable practices are core to Milliken’s philosophy. As with many of Milliken’s carpet products, its Colour Compositions plank range is manufactured using 100% recycled Econyl nylon yarn, the company says. This means the product is able meet a client’s sustainability goals while still offering enduring performance.

Launched in January 2017, Milliken says Colour Compositions is becoming an increasingly popular choice due to its dramatic design appeal and flexibility of installation. This reportedly offers designers an exploration of colour and form so that no two installations need ever look the same. For the LSE project, the linear effect of the planks juxtaposed with the flowing curves of the furniture has created a fresh and stimulating space to study, Milliken says.

An additional benefit for this LSE library installation was provided by the flooring’s Comfort Lite cushion backing. This 90% recycled content backing reportedly enables the library users to enjoy enhanced underfoot comfort. The backing’s sound absorbing properties are also said to help absorb ambient noise and reduce the acoustic impact of footfall around the large open plan expanse of the library.

In the longer term, the wear performance of the carpet will also benefit from its cushion backing, the company continues. Milliken says its cushion backed modular carpet typically lasts 40 to 50% longer than a hardback carpet as the cushion backing also absorbs the effects of wear and helps to protect the face of the carpet.