Fortuny in the 21st Century

The 'Grand Manner' lives on...

Photograph by Erik Kvalsvik from Fortuny Interiors by Brian Coleman.  Reprinted with permission by Gibbs Smith.

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From the curiosity and passion of one person – Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo – a design empire was created that encompassed fine arts, photography, theatrical design, lighting, fashion and textilesThe inventor, and the world he created over one hundred years ago, still thrives and advances today thanks to Maury and Mickey Riad, the brothers who operate his namesake firm.

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Off The Beaten Path

innovative rug design, fiber content & construction techniques

‘Tabriz Canal Aerial’ from the Erased Heritage Collection by Jan Kath

Design professionals are always looking for the new and exciting in products, services and vendors.  With that in mind I set out on a quest last week to find some unusual floor covering.  I visited a dozen showrooms & ateliers, and found a handful of rugs I think are industry standouts.

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Tissus Français Modernes

a visit with Patrick and Pierre Frey

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“Designers today are discovering that Pierre Frey is not as traditional as they might have thought.  Of course we have Toile du Jouy – but we have so much more.”

-Pierre Frey

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Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting Patrick and Pierre Frey in their company’s New York showroom.  Patrick, the family patriarch, is the second generation President and Creative Director, while his son Pierre (named after his Grandfather who established the firm in 1935) is the head of International Relations.  Matthieu and Vincent Frey – pictured above in the family portrait – are Patrick’s other sons.  They are also company executives.

During my visit Patrick and Pierre shared some of their storied history, and walked me though their collection of fabrics.  I’d like to share some of what I consider to be the standouts.

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Plain Velvet 101

a shopping guide for the best in silk, cotton, linen and mohair

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Velvet is presumed to have been developed on the shuttle loom by the Chinese more than 4500 years ago, and was constructed of pure silk.  It was woven by the Persians about 2000 B.C., and by the Italians during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries – and was coveted by royalty and nobility.  When weavers began experimenting with mohair fiber from angora goats in the 16th century, velvet became less precious. In 1785 the mechanized loom was invented by Edmund Cartwright, which with the introduction of cotton and linen fiber versions, made velvet much more accessible.

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