Modulyss is one of those unique Belgian brands that puts soul into their products. A young brand by many accounts, but nevertheless world class, they not only design and manufacture high-quality carpet tiles, but have also been driven by an ethos of creativity, functionality and sustainability.
Their latest Heritage Collection is a range of carpet tiles inspired from Flanders’ diverse landscapes, so beautifully captured in the paintings by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens in the 15th and 16th centuries. For this collection, typical Flemish landscapes are translated into five tactile carpet tile designs, Cobbles, Haze, Dune, Meadow and Polder, and the inspiration is intrinsically linked to the region’s rich history and culture, capturing the western coast, the iconic cobblestone roads, and the fertile polders further inland.
“I was intrigued by the concept of heritage as a cultural tradition that helps shape a society’s identity, and that’s passed down through generations,” says Ruben de Rue, Product Director at Modulyss. “For me, Heritage is about the need of society to go back to its roots, back to the earth. It’s about reminiscing about timeless memories that somehow feel familiar and comforting. Drawing inspiration from the long and thriving history of the Flemish textile industry, the Belgian artists I admire and the landscapes of my youth, Heritage weaves the past and the future, and reflects the delicate shapes, textures and muted colours found in Flemish landscapes.”
The Review Crew
From left to right: Farah Addada, Senior Workplace Designer at JLL MENA; Peter Mishreky, Design Manager at Al Tayer Stocks; Hisham Khairalla, Export Sales Manager, Middle East & Africa at Modulyss
At the Haworth showroom in Dubai’s popular design district, we met with the Modulyss team to review this subtle and elegant range. Joining us were designers Farah Addada from JLL and Peter Mishreky from ATS, equally eager to feel out the product (pun intended).
As we muse through the laid out tiles, Hisham Khairalla, Export Sales Manager, Middle East & Africa at Modulyss, explains the concept further. “Each of the five tile ranges come with an entire book with different pile size, colours and cuts, offering designers a veritable playground not only of tones, but also varying depths to create demarcations and spaces within spaces.”
As we plunge into the array of books and samples splayed before us, we realise that this indeed is true. Diving further, it is apparent that each collection has been painstakingly thought through, with a back story and the distinct mark of inspiration emanating from the various ranges.
A symphony of collections
Diving further into the diverse collections, each one is named after inspiration it is derived from. Cobbles, for example immediately speaks of the cobblestone roads of the Flemish region, serving their popular mode of transportation – cycling. The aesthetics of this range, the typical granite structure, shifting colours and irregular shapes serve as a reminder of the speckled cobbles winding through the various towns and villages.
The river Leie in Belgian and that rises above it was the inspiration for the Haze collection. This beautiful river forms an integral part of the heritage of the country, playing an important role in its thriving linen and textile industry. As we look deeper into the patterns and tones in this range, we start to see the designer’s creativity imbued into it, capturing the ever changing, fluid mist and fog, in six muted colours in both loop and cut pile.
“The Dune collection is representative of the sand dunes found in Belgium, which sit right beside lush meadows, would you believe!” says Hisham. While we listen dumbfounded to learn of massive dunes sitting amidst such greenery, we learn that the northwest coastline of Belgium runs across 65 km, offering unending stretches of sandy beaches and grassy dunes. It was the delicate shades and shapes of these dunes that formed the inspiration for this collection.
A common element of the Flemish landscape are polders (low tracts of reclaimed land) that are incredibly fertile and hence, perfect for farming. From a bird’s eye view, these polders look like organic yet perfectly cut shapes of lush green stitched together with high ridges and deep furrows. This repetitive linear pattern is beautifully captured in the Polder collection. The discipline and order of the Polder collection is offset by the natural flow of the Meadow collection which, as the name suggests, derives its look from the grassy, undulating curves of the meadows. This collection has the softest tactile feel, almost luxurious to the touch.
Farah: I love it. I thought it was quite versatile in its colours and textures. What’s great about it is that it comes in different sizes – you have the planks and the squares to be able to mix and match rather than stick to one size, so it works well in terms of design and shows some variance. When you can put together different textures and heights, within the same colour tones all in one brand, the working is easy and the result beautiful.
What we’re doing more and more now in offices is bring in a hospitality and residential look. The velvet effect in particular is stunning and it has a luxurious softness, lending itself perfectly to the new style of commercial spaces.
Peter: It’s great – practical, with neutral colours and patterns, as well as fresh tones, that makes the ability to design with it more exciting. The variety that we have here with the colours, patterns and textures gives added richness to our designs.
The concept with which we design commercial spaces is very different now. Gone are the rigid offices of before – now it’s more homey collaborative spaces – and this range will go a long way in helping us build such types of spaces.
Sustainability in every thread
“The Heritage collection is one I like to refer to as the ‘green’ collection, not only because of the look and appeal, but also because the yarn used in this is ECONYL®, which is regenerated from ocean waste and fishing nets.” Hisham further explains how these fishing nets are extracted from the ocean and made into a polymer, resulting in a 100 percent recycled, regenerated and recyclable yarn. “600,000 tons of fishing nets are discarded in the ocean each year. If you, as a designer, need to know how you can offset this number using this product, it can be further calculated in fishing nets. For example, 500 square meters of this carpet tile will use 300 kilograms of fishing nets and ocean waste. So the more you specify, the better it is for our environment.”
Coupled with a recyclable ecoBack backing, Cradle to Cradle® certification, and Limited Edition’s CO2 reduction initiative, CO2RE it is certainly worthy of being titled a ‘green’ collection. Furthermore, any and all information regarding the manufacture of the tiles along with necessary certifications can be easily downloaded from their website, making life much easier for sustainability consultants and projects looking to acquire certifications, such as LEED and WELL. The colours on this collection also appeal to a sense of calm – very soothing, no sharp patterns, and certainly no flash.
Farah: Being a sustainability expert myself, what really helps is that the info on these tiles tells you precisely what you’re targeting on your scorecard for green certifications. Because a lot of paperwork goes into it. Plus the fact that it’s Cradle to Cradle, recyclable and manufactured with reusable materials, this is something that we as designers are always looking to specify, because it’s great for the environment.
In terms of wellness too, this range scores big. The lack of harmful chemicals in adhesives and materials in the product ensures us that we are not harming the end user, and therefore building a healthy space.
Peter: The more a design is inspired by mother nature, the more it is neutral and connected to the end user, the human. The Heritage range, with its textures, colours and patterns works in a truly biophilic way, bringing the outside in. Also, from the backing and the thickness of the tile, I can tell that they have taken into account the acoustics of a space, and that is an invaluable usage of carpet in commercial offices.
From the info gathered today, it is obvious that a lot of research and development has gone into this creation. When you have a company with a dedicated, strong R&D backing that is connected to the environment, the market, and the local entities to dig up more and more sustainable ways of manufacturing, you know they are on the right track. Because in the end, the whole world is headed in that direction.
The entire time of our review spent amidst this collection left us with a calm, soothing and overall content feeling, one that clearly would transfer in spades to the end user. The Heritage Collection by Modulyss has unlocked a door that leads to the human aspect of wellness, while of course, absolutely excelling on the sustainability quotient. The design and range, too, leaves little else to be desired as there is more than enough to inspire creatives to use this range as their paintbrush and create a relaxed and serene interior canvas. This carpet tile range has successfully merged art, environment and functionality into one stellar collection.
Farah: Whenever we design, we always look for the story and the concept that ties back to the product. The fact that these carpets have a really strong backstory really helps to sell our design, because in the end, the client needs to buy it. What I really love is the story behind it, the concept, and it truly shows in the final design. I also think there is also value for money here, as the price range goes from low to high, allowing you to mix and match the tiles to fit your budget. If I were to wish for more, it would be to see more depth and variance in height and pile, as that would look beautiful and give so much more dimension to a floor.
Peter: I would like to see more colours and patterns relating to the culture of the Middle East, just to help us be even more connected to the region. I truly believe with the sheer versatility of the range – the sizes, colours, and patterns – it is adding value and depth to our designs. The price, too, is very competitive for this market, plus the wide range of styles and cost allows us the opportunity to offer the best that we can to our clients based on their budget.