Projects we love

When Flooring Comes to Life

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Projects We Love 2014

We collected some of our most beloved projects and presented them in a magazine named Projects We Love. The magazine features interesting interviews, beautiful projects and compelling facts about the company.

Alexander Ekman

Creative Rooms

14. Project: Bwin


20. Interview with Alexander Ekman

He is the wunderkind of the international contemporary dance scene and has created original works for the Cullberg Ballet, and the Royal Swedish Ballet, among others. Now Alexander Ekman puts on the dance shoes for Bolon in a unique and exciting collaboration.

In the short film you made for Bolon you can be seen dancing on the flooring. Is it a good surface for ballet or modern dance?

"When we created the film I was quite concerned about the Bolon floor because dancers are usually very picky about what surface they are dancing on. In most opera houses and other dance stages there is a specially laid dance floor. But Bolon actually worked out fine … only a couple of minor falls and bruises! What was quite funny was that we not only danced on the floor but we also made costumes out of it. We actually wore the floor! To be honest, its not the most comfortable piece of clothing I have ever worn... but it was definitely the most comfy floor I have ever worn!”

The Contradiction of Silence by Alexander Ekman for Bolon

How did the Silence collaboration with Bolon come about? Bolon and Alexander Ekman share a passion for the unusual and unpredictable with both flooring company and choreographer dealing in traditional crafts but striving to challenge conventions…did these connections make for a helpful and inspirational factor during your collaboration?

“I think that the Eklund sisters were hungry to create something different from the beginning. They contacted me and we spoke about what we could do. I am always open for new challenges and love to try new things. So this seemed like a great and fun project to me. They were very receptive to my ideas and we clicked immediately. I always try to create things outside the box and I reckon Annica and Marie relate to that way of thinking as well.”

Of the two Eklund sisters, who is the best dancer? Annica or Marie? 

“Hmmm. Its a tough call, I will have to take them both out dancing and then get back to you on this.”

How did the Silence collection inspire you?

“I wanted to create an entire world of the floor. Also, I wanted to work a lot with rhythm. I was extremely excited when I heard that Johan Söderberg agreed to edit the film. He works extremely and intensely with music and rhythm and he made an amazing edit of our material.”

Why did you decide to call the range Silence?

“The silence concept was given to me from Bolon. I think it definitely relates to the silent communication of movements – the wordless, dialogue-free expression of dance.”

In what way did you contribute to the set design in the film? How did you go about this?

 “I worked with a great set designer and costume designer on this project. I basically gave them my general idea and they went wild with their imagination and delivered a fantastic set. We really had a great team on this production making it a lot of fun to create. There was that great ‘lets make this work’ atmosphere in the air. We were always looking for ways to solve everything ... I love it when a team finds that state of being.” As a choreographer, you love to challenge conventional perceptions of dance, often using some very unusual theatrical sets.

Would you ever consider incorporating Bolon into a stage production?

“Yes, definitely!”

What are you working on right now?

I am about to set off to India where I will study yoga for a month before I start the biggest production of my life; my own version of Swan Lake for the Norwegian National Ballet premiering at The Oslo Opera House in April 2014. It has a new score by Mikael Karlsson, costumes by Henrik Vibskov ... and a real lake on stage! So, I am heading to Oslo for yet another production meeting ... with a 16 metre pool, filled with 6,000 litres of water, we don’t want anything to go wrong on stage!” 


The Bolon factory in Ulricehamn, Sweden

42. 100% Made in Sweden

It takes skill and innovation and a whole lot of patience to produce one of Bolon’s magical floorings. PWL took a look behind the scenes in the brand new factory at the headquarter in Ulricehamn, Sweden.

How does BOLON happen? How do great bales of apparently unpromising, raw material of PVC morph into beautiful rolls of tightly woven, geometric, light-reflecting, tactile and highly desirable contemporary flooring? A combination of skill, innovation, patience, technical know-how and little bit of magic.

The looms in the weavery at the Bolon factory at Ulricehamn are the thrumming heart of Bolon; this department has been busily working its woven wonders ever since the Bolon first opened for business way back 1949.

At the moment the Bolon weavery includes 12 looms, three of which are jacquards for more advanced patterns such as the complex Bolon by Missoni range. (Jacquard weaving, in case you didn’t know, makes possible the raising of each warp thread independently of others, bringing greater versatility to the weaving process, and offering the highest level of warp yarn control.) There are different looms for different types of weave and for each weave there are more than 1200 threads in the warp. (The warp being the set of lengthwise yarns held in tension on a loom.) But things weren’t always so super efficient and hi-tech. 

Marie and Annica Eklund’s grandfather Nils- Erik was Bolon’s founding genius. Sixty years ago, whilst producing cans for food packaging, he noticed that the factory next door, making vinyl aprons and table cloths, was producing large amounts of textile waste. The ever-resourceful, eco-maverick Nils-Erik found a way to take the waste sheets of PVC, cut them into strips and then hand plait them with cotton into rag rugs for recycled use in the camping and caravan sector. He named his company Bolon, fusing the Swedish words for cotton (BOmull) and nyLON selling several million square metres of his genius product over four decades. 

By the time Nils-Erik’s son Lars took over the business in the 1960s, the factory was employing around up to 30 people with the weaving done on old and clattering machine. “Now we have more than 80 people and some incredibly sophisticated new technology,” explains Lars Eklund. Bolon now supplies more than two million square metres of its distinctive product across 45 countries. Turnover is now estimated to be more than 27 million euros. 

But even with bold investment, a modern masterwerk of a factory and the most up to date machinery to hand, the manufacturing of BOLON’s quality product takes time, patience and skill; approximately 100 sqm/hour. Weaving done, the material passes through a variably climactically controlled oven to fix the weave; through first section of the oven heated and the final zone regulated colder, chilled by adjacent groundwater. The gleaming Bolon product emerges from the oven shiny, taught, super cool, cooked to fixed perfection ... and ready for fitting. 

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