The textile industry is embracing innovative designs that employ the latest weave technology to create showstopping fabrics.
Often viewed as an ideal way for designers to exert their artistic expressions, the use of textiles in interior design schemes can be manipulated more than any other design medium, in terms of appearance and application. Thanks to advances in weave technology designers can play with colours, patterns and textures in order to create the desired design ambience best suited to the commercial requirements.
We canvassed a selection of regional and international manufacturers and suppliers on the current market trends in the material world and their predictions for the future styles emerging from the fabric industry.
Every facet of interior design is influenced by the twists and turns of the trends in fashion, and nowhere is this correlation closer related than in the textile industry. Julie Wilkinson, regional manager, Valley Forge Fabrics, Dubai Branch explains: "There is an important textile trend to incorporate the upper echelon of haute couture from the fashion runways of Paris and Milan and place them directly into the world of hotel guestroom design." In addition, she points out that fabrics chosen for hospitality projects emulate the textiles gracing residential interiors. "A current trend, is fabrics that feel soft like linen and cotton, but woven in polyester to meet the stringent guidelines for durability. Subtle textures with hints of tonal colour are extremely popular with very little sheen. Fabrics that are being specified currently are not shiny, which goes back to the trend of soft and luxurious."
In the same way that 'the ordinary' has no place in high fashion, textile designers too are ignoring the route of the expected and choosing instead to experiment, innovate and individualise. Gudrun Klöhn, export sales manager, Drapilux says: "Intense creativity in the weave has become a core element of the current trends. Tone-in-tone plains mixed with contrasting colours, three dimensional effects through special weaving techniques, shiny and matte effects that stand side by side are popular."
Ikat printing on yarns for example is merely one of the numerous complex techniques used by Drapilux in textile manufacturing. "The special interplay of colours and patterns occur as a result of this print image being produced by means of warp and weft threads, giving these fabrics a unique look with nebulous and intentionally washed-out contours," Klöhn adds.
Veenu Kanwar, manager and design coordinator, Warps and Wefts agrees that today's neutrals consist of complex colourings, with layers of colour or tone on tone effects to create individualised styles. She says: "Fabrics can also play with the effects of light, creating multi-dimensional effects of matte over shiny and light over dark finishes." She continues: "Even beige gets a lift with new tones and optic shifts to create an ethereal and sophisticated atmosphere. Designers are layering textures to create multi-look patterns and are experimenting with new textures such as cork, metals and synthetics. The trend today is to put the 'tech' in textiles - new innovations and treatments are helping fabrics become more trendy, high tech and comfortable as well as gain special properties like being anti-microbial, stain resistant, UV resistant and so on. Environmentally-friendly and recycled materials are also gaining popularity," she adds.
Colours and patterns
Wilkinson, Valley Forge points to two new trends emerging: Large scale geometrics with clean lines in simple two-colour combinations and the influence of nature. In regards to colour trends, she maintains that the influence continues to emerge from fashion, residential lifestyles, environment and world cultures. "In 2008 we will see gunmetal metallics, apricot brandy and the reintroduction of dusty tones that have been absent since the 1980's.
Also emerging as a strong colour is clean yellow. We associate clean, cool colours with relaxation, and so aqua, blue violet, grass green and deep peacock are being promoted as the most versatile colours in 2008." She believes due to the movement towards sustainable products and recycling, a colour palette has emerged on the cooler side of nature with stony greys and seaside blues.
Accent colours for this nature-inspired palette is foliage-coloured greens matched with terracotta and gold. Interestingly, Wilkinson asserts that world culture continues to dominate both pattern and colour. "Emerging colours are the intense reds from China and the 'hot' colours of Brazil, which can be used selectively as accents to make a high impact with a punch of boldness. The 'hot' Brazilian influence is a full spectrum including purple, orange, fuchsia and lime."
The latest lines from Rubelli agree with this prediction, as a Rubelli spokesperson confirms: "Pinks, fuchsia, purples are the trend of this year. Lime green is still in as well, people are more daring in the Middle East now."
Klöhn, Drapilux adds: "Vivid brights, subtracted hues and intensive, even colourful, darks underline the new trend, while orientation on natural colours and patterns allow us to adapt the current trend for a healthier and nature conscious living environment - this of course works well to contrast the choco/black shades already in trend last year. Flesh tones, tan, sunny golden and orange Mediterranean shades play an important role."
Fabrics with a neutral base teamed with contrasting highlights will remain big news in the industry according to Kanwar, Warps and Wefts: "The family of neutrals is flexible from light, soft beiges to warm and inviting mid-tone browns that contrast with lighter architectural detail, to the rich depth of dark woods. Other colour trends are rich hues bursting with life and excitement - deep hues contrasted with light hues; whites and off-whites with a grey tint, perhaps blue-influenced or pinkish brown, becoming light taupe. On the deeper side, fashion has turned to purple and pink in dark, dense shades with visual drama. Coral shades are infused with a real sophisticated saturation of colour. Off-black shades are decidedly purple-influenced or deep brown-black with purple undertones."
In terms of patterning, some examples suggest that geometric patterns and florals are being mixed tastefully to create a smooth transition from traditional to contemporary.
Examples include Pollack's Sketchpad, Talisman, Retexture, Deliniation, Monogram and Blossom clearly prove this blending of old and new. The Dedar fabrics Mezzaluna, Al Hambra, Vega, Ghiroghoro and Darling witness an elegant co-relation between classic and modern designs.
A vast number of new materials and textile creations were showcased earlier in the year at Heimtextil, IMM Cologne and then Salone del Mobile in Milan, and as new fabrics are created, designers are adapting new concepts to existing interior spaces.
BinHendi Enterprise's latest edition to its collection of furniture brands, is the Finnish company, Woodnotes, which was founded in 1987 by Ritva and Mikko Puotila and is known for its uncompromisingly pure and clean line of paper yarn carpets, fabrics, accessories and unique works. It presented its new 2007 collection in Milan earlier this year, which included the Archipelago wool paper carpets, and the Coast paper yarn carpets alongside its innovative Vista blind and partition fabric with a rhythmic stripe created by the paper yarn and cotton weave.
Mia Cullen developed the Flake interconnecting blind, which won an interior innovation award in the Materials Innovation category at the IMM fair in Cologne in January. It offers a flexible solution to surfaces, with even three-dimensional forms being possible. The pieces, made from Tyvek® are joined together in a multitude of ways to adapt to the interior scheme, and is durable, dust-resistant due to its tightly woven fibres and biodegradable.
Kanwar, Warps and Wefts says: "Contemporary textile designers have distinguished themselves by combining hand manipulation, technology, and natural and synthetic materials in imaginative ways to create what are popularly referred to as ‘high-tech' or ‘technical' fabric materials." Création Baumann demonstrates its extensive technical expertise in textile technology through metal weaves like Elux and Edera; laser cut fabrics Etrus, Etoile with complex patterns and non-woven laser cut panels Equadro and Erondo with simple square and circular shapes.
Combining two or more materials that differ in form or composition can produce a new material with improved performance characteristics, such as natural proteins (silk, wool) with cellulose (cotton, linen) or natural fibres with micro-fibres. Dedar's last collection has a variety of innovative and elegant fabrics inspired by leather engravings, woven raffia and wild silks. Its fabrics Cut Out and Allover have patterns of Moorish origin achieved using laser cutting technology played out in tones of leather and suede on soft micro fibre base fabric, to create three dimensional relief patterns.
Further more, manufacturers today manipulate an array of fabric structures and surfaces by experimenting with shrinkage, transparency, opacity, light, depth and permanent textures to create individually expressive fabrics. Wilkinson, Valley Forge points to the Lumalive Textiles, which integrates flexible sheets of LEDs into fabric that can display text, graphics, logos and full colour animated pictorials. The Lumalive light emitting textiles are being used in hospitality suites, meeting rooms and fun spaces like bars and restaurants.
In addition to Lumalive there are other fibre optic textiles that can emit heat, refrigerated air and sound. "These textiles, while experimental, are sure to find their way to the hotel designers arsenal in a very short time," she asserts. In addition to increased durability, the material Crypton offers the designer opportunity to keep high traffic areas clean and fresh looking.
In addition to ensuring the fabric chosen is appropriate for the intended use and space; the question of quality and the inevitable price constraints, there are vital health and safety requirements that need to be factored into the specification process, the most important of which are complying with the Fire Retardant (FR) codes.
One example company is Backhausen. It was founded in 1849 and has more than 3,500 original designs, including timeless patterns by Josef Hoffmann. Many of his designs have now been reinterpreted, set out in modern colours and in Trevira CS qualities. Leen Vandaele, the exclusive agent for Backhausen Fabrics in the Middle East Region, explains this significance: "Designers need to constantly be aware of quality, so need to check the composition and durability of the fabric. It is also imperative that designers know the difference between FR and Trevira CS fabric. Many FR fabrics can be any material where a special coating is put on top of the fabric to make it FR, this coating can disappear over time with regular washing and using. Trevira CS fabric is woven with a specially developed fibre that will never melt, never become flammable and will not emit any toxic gas or odour."
It is not enough for manufacturers to present an array of tantalising swatches and fabric rolls. The legal requirements are now uppermost in the suppliers' priorities. For example, one of Al Aqili's latest additions to its burgeoning brand portfolio is FR-One Fabric. Its material is produced using yarn spun from inherently FR man-made textile fibres. The major requirement of an inherently FR textile yarn is to prevent flames or fire on the fabric from spreading quickly.
Wilkinson, Valley Forge, gives the following advice: "Designers should consider their selections more carefully or start the process of re-engineering as early as possible in the design phase. Taking a woven silk fabric and converting it to a fire retardant polyester for drapery that inherently passes the required FR codes can be easily accomplished with ample amount of time. What the designer needs to be aware of is, converting from one fibre to another will always affect the look and feel of a fabric. Being open to this process and working with experienced suppliers is important when budget and performance are driving forces in the project."
The safety and quality question should be raised at the outset Rubelli maintains: "Designers need to be aware of how durable the fabric is, and must not hesitate to ask us suppliers if it's good for upholstery or not, also, it's important to know the composition of the fabrics in case additional FR treatments are needed." For designers to know the technical details such as pilling, abrasion, and colour-fastness is vital to ensure a stress-free maintenance future and peace of mind in terms of the health and safety of the customers.