One of my popular crusades of late is enlisting my industry peers into embracing the “Made In America” stance. I can’t stress enough the importance of being aware of how each of us can help rebuild our economy.
As challenging as it may be at times, I am intent as can be on buying American made products. This is in no way a small task. Our industry is flooded with so many incredible items, it would be impossible to limit oneself, but a little conscious effort is all we need to be making.
Of course, there are many local artisans and workrooms based in New York City and the metro area, such as John Lyle Design, Emeco, Bielecky Brothers, John Boone Inc., Avery Boardman and Vladimir Kagan Couture to name just a few. I support them by purchasing from them as often as possible.
It is no simple task to unearth companies in the design field that in fact do support this point of view, but they are here and growing. There are more smaller startups every year, such as the new textile company Zak+Fox, who we’ve written about in a previous post. My aim is to bring attention to them via this platform, as I find them and report about what they are doing.
In conjunction with the commitment to keeping manufacturing in this country, many are also avid conservationists and advocates of environmental protection.
One such company that has caught my attention is Maharam.
A fourth-generation family business founded in 1902 by Louis Maharam, a Russian immigrant, this company has evolved from a source of theatrical textiles for set design and costuming in the 1940’s to a pioneer of performance-driven textiles for commercial interiors in the 1960’s.
Today, Maharam is recognized for its rigorous and holistic commitment to design as a leading provider of textiles to design professionals. Maharam textiles are included in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others. They are the recipient of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Design Patron Award in 2007 for its longstanding support of design and cultural initiatives. “Maharam Agenda“ was published in 2011.
I have inquired with this esteemed company for their view on manufacturing in the US and their response is as follows:
“The US has a rich history of production weaving starting in the late 1800’s. Although its center has changed geographically from originally being focused in the northeast, the quality and efficiency of manufacturing remains high. In the spirit of US mass production and utilizing component parts, the resources we work with have found a great balance between standardizing warp and weft yarns in order to increase the speed of production while also providing a wide range of aesthetics. There is a financial advantage in purchasing lower minimums, having a faster weaving time, and lowering shipping costs when buying domestically.
With chemical companies in the US successfully producing the raw material for fibers like polyester, nylon, and polyolefin, most yarn manufacturing can also happen locally. At the same time the chemical industry supports the yarn manufacturers with these newly manufactured synthetics there is also a strong domestic effort to recycle these chemicals and give them a new purpose — for example, plastic bottles transformed into yarn. Local finishing companies also benefit from domestic chemical production and innovative technologies like stain repellent top coatings. All of these links in the chain of production benefit our developing product in the US. Maharam has a commitment to purchase domestic products and support our long term partnerships.“
Though not exclusively American made, they do offer a diverse array of textiles from around the world whereby they avail themselves of cutting edge technology and age old heritage simultaneously. There seems to be a cooperative effort at Maharam to provide the best the marketplace has to offer; therefore, cultivating free exchange among many design disciplines.
Their website is very thorough with regard to their environmental commitment. I asked if there was anything that they would like to add here.
“To reduce the environmental impact of products we work closely with the yarn suppliers, weavers, and finishers of a product to lessen the environmental impact of chemicals which are necessary for a material’s performance. Also, during the development process we evaluate if a backing or topical finish could be reduced in quantity (a lighter backing) or eliminated altogether without greatly impacting the textile.
The new website launched last year gives more filters for clients to use with environmental criteria. The list acknowledges that there isn’t “one shade of green” that fits every project … for some clients rapidly renewable content will be more important than recycled content.
We have partnered with Kvadrat who is likeminded in their approach to the environment with materials featuring natural fibers and reduced toxicity of finishes and synthetic fibers.”
I will be reporting on more of these valuable contributors to our economic redevelopment in the near future. Do you know of other companies who support our economy and produce quality products for the home furnishings industry right here in this country? What are your feelings about supporting domestic economic growth?
Written by Carl Lana