I’d be the first to admit that I’m a huge fan of ‘high-low’ interiors. I’d also fess-up to being a bit cautious when it comes to lesser priced fabrics for interior design (mostly because cheap fabrics tend to look, for the lack of a better word, cheap.) That’s why I’m a big fan of Rose Brand Fabrics. They’re a theatrical fabric resource that has an amazing number of great textiles for times when stretching the budget doesn’t need to mean things end up looking shabby.
The mention of woven horsehair conjures visions of strict Victorian furniture – and while it is true that it was widely used in the 19th century because of its beauty and durability – it’s often overlooked by designers today. I think that’s unfortunate, because a dash of woven horsehair permeates a room with a historical narrative only a dash of Fortuny can rival.
“Racemid” from the Embroidered Vine Collection
Chelsea Editions was originally established in 1991 by Mona Perlhagen as a resource for cushions made from antique embroideries. She quickly established herself within the design community – and eventually met the late Jed Johnson – with whom she partnered in establishing the firms current incarnation in 1996. Together they created the collection available today from the carefully curated historical documents Perlhagen spend decades amassing. I’ll admit that I overuse superlatives, but CE‘s collection of embroideries and crewels is the interior design industry’s finest. (Some might argue that Holland & Sherry’s embroideries are in the running, and I’d say they’re close, but I’ll save talking about them for another post.)
The Soho of my youth has changed from bohemian artist colony to cobblestone’d Rodeo Drive, and seeing as I personally can’t afford to shop at Chanel, I don’t often find myself there. That said, last week an acquaintance told me about ALT for Living – a showroom on Greene Street that had somehow escaped my radar. Yesterday I ventured south to meet Analisse Taft, ALT for Living‘s owner/curator, and to see her collection. It turned out to be a very exciting and worthwhile trip.
It’s been 3 years since Stacy Waggoner and Kate Reynolds opened Studio Four in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. I recently heard they’d expanded into a larger space flooded with gorgeous light, so I went in to see them. Their beautiful new showroom is a spacious and airy “white envelope” – quintessential downtown chic – showcasing the fabrics, wallpapers and rugs they’ve curated. I had the opportunity to meet them both upon my arrival, and within seconds felt right at home. As they walked me through the 27 lines they represent, it became incredibly clear that they share a point of view, a sense of style, and a generous dose of southern charm (hailing from Texas and South Carolina respectively). On the whole, Studio Four’s collection is casually sophisticated, understated (in the most glorious way), and fresh. These ladies both worked for A&M collection, among other stalwart showrooms, and I could easily see how their history has influenced them – but they’ve moved their aesthetic forward in a more youthful, colorful (the key word) and exuberant way.
Knoll luxe in New York City’s D&D building is diminutive by comparison to other showroom spaces, but there’s more here than meets the eye. It’s a concentrated nerve center representative of the emerging technologies of no less than 8 countries in textile design. Cannon Schaub, fresh from a 10 year stint as the textile manager for Holly Hunt (another known textile innovator) was tapped to manage the line introduced by KnollTextile creative director Dorothy Cosonas, and I for one can hardly imagine a better pairing. Cosonas envisioned the collaboration between fashion’s current luminaries and the Knoll brand as the latest incarnation of the company’s history of mash-ups… so having the ever fashion forward Schaub at the helm is serendipitous. This is stylish product, stylish space and a stylish representative.
Boucle is first a novelty yarn, produced by spinning two threads of different tensions together. While keeping one thread taught, and allowing the second to remain loose, loops of slight variation form along the strand. Boucle as a fabric is made by weaving a common uniform warp thread with the filler weft being the boucle yarn. Solid colored boucles have monochromatic warp and weft, while multi-colored boucles incorporated several different colored weft threads. It’s almost impossible to talk about boucle with any authority and not mention Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Continue reading
Crewel (the earliest examples of which are 1000 years old), refers to a basic broadcloth textile embroidered either by hand or by machine with a yarn to produce a pattern in relief. Thought to originate in the Mesopotamian crescent, crewel made it’s way into fashion among the privileged in England and France by the 17th century and was brought to the United States by settlers. Today, most crewels are produced CAD looms in India or China. Wool was the earliest fiber used to make the embroidery thread; while cotton, silk and rayon are also employed in modern versions. From my point of view, some of the anglophile examples with floral motifs are a bit stuffy. That said, there are many designs with flowers, animals and incidentals that are fresh and exciting.
Exactly 10 years ago this month, P. Kaufman announced the purchase of Clarence House. Many in the interior design industry expected a routing of the brand by the considerably “lower brow” parent company. Quite to the contrary, a decade later, Clarence House remain a destination for the discerning decorator. My favorite crewel in their collection is “Polly” #34434, a vividly colored aviary of primitively rendered birds on a background trellis of branches. The design is witty, fresh, and exuberant. Use it as an accent, or draw the theme for a room from it; this fabric reminds me not to take myself too seriously… something I need to be reminded of.
To the trade