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Feel me, touch me: focus on fabrics

Feel me, touch me: focus on fabrics


Above image: Copper by CASAMANCE from Zepel. Article by Jan Henderson.

This article originally appeared in inside 92 – available now on newsstands, or digitally through Zinio.

Textiles are a part of life and living. We wear them, sleep on them, sit on them and admire them. Fabrics stand the text of time although applications change. Over the last decade we have seen a shift from blinds and bare windows to projects featuring curtains, sheers and side curtains. Leather on furniture is wonderful, but the textures and patterns of upholstery fabrics make velvets and linens must-have products on a designer’s shopping list. Technology has also made an impact through the use of photo imagery on fabrics, while modern fibres and weaving techniques provide more and more options creating new and renewed textiles. Of course a range is not a range unless it is available in dozens of colours and, in many cases, the full colour spectrum. This means that fabric companies need to keep thousands of metres of fabric on hand and be able to supply orders within reasonable time parameters.

Take Germany fabric company JAB, distributed by Seneca, for example. JAB has five million metres of stock in store at any given time and can service clients within 48 hours. One velvet alone is available in 110 colours and that’s just the beginning. JAB sees itself more as a ‘lifestyle’ brand, presenting its product as an integral part of living not an adjunct to life. The company’s 150-page catalogue accentuates lifestyle rather than pure product and the pages are filled with images of people living with the textiles and this is a trend that can be seen throughout the broader textile industry.


The de Le Cuona range available from Boyac is another such ‘lifestyle’ textile. The range is predominantly linens in various weights and weaves, but also includes wools and velvets. This range mirrors the ideals of sustainable products that are natural but offer quality and luxury for the designer and client. Boyac offers product from 28 fabric houses and there is something for everyone. Managing director of Boyac, Susanna de Vienne is well-placed to see fabric trends through the many designers who purchase from her collections. “Colour is much more important now with a move away from greys and beige; however, colour accents are being used in projects for those who are not so brave,” she says. “There is a move back to fabrics in commercial projects, especially with the resurgence of sheer drapes. Clients don’t want double-lined curtains, but do want fabrics in their offices for the heat and acoustic value, and that feeling of comfort and luxury.” She adds that the de Le Cuona range is one of her best-selling collections, but that wools and quilted velvets are also in demand.

Atelier, Guild and Vanguard fabrics from Instyle

Atelier, Guild and Vanguard fabrics from Instyle


As fabrics, colours, patterns and styles are diverse, so too are the projects that are using such textiles. Tracy Mak, marketing and environmental manager for Instyle, says, “There is a lot more diversity in aesthetics of projects these days, with more depth and texture being used, making for individuality in design.” Instyle’s offerings are many and varied and include a general range, high performance fabrics, a healthcare range and a sustainability collection – with a variety of price points.


Trendy Chenille fabric from JAB available at Seneca


Just launched in June is a new range of ‘fabric’ by Austrian giant Swarovski and, yes, the fabric is of course made with crystals. This new product can be affixed to MDF, metal or concrete… in fact any hard surface and the designs and application are fabulously bling. Harris says, “The designs are only limited by a designer’s imagination.”

While every fabric house provides ranges for many design applications, Laine Furnishings has focused on the commercial and hospitality projects. There are a multitude of plains and textures available in a staggering range of colours with a variety of price points. To assist clients and their lead-times, Laine holds 150,000 metres of fabric in its 30,000-square metre premises. The business has developed over two generations and is still run by the family. Aside from fabrics, Laine offers a range of acoustic panels and this section of the business is growing exponentially.

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Laine Furnishings’ Easy fabric


From a large Australian company to a newcomer on the fabric block, Willie Weston was conceived by Laetitia Prunetti and Jessica Booth. Both women have a background in the arts and a particular love of Indigenous art, and so their shared vision is to present Indigenous design through fabric. The company is barely a year old, but the product, two ranges in several colourways, is gathering attention. Each fabric design is a labour of love, with the process from concept to manufacture taking time to develop. They start with the relationship to the artist that begins in most cases through contact with an art centre coordinator (for the fabrics in the current range this required contacts in Queensland and Western Australia). Once the artist agrees and a design is chosen, colourways are developed and manufacturing is completed in Sydney. Authenticity and respect is key for Prunetti and Booth and so they ensure that the artist of each collection receives a payment for every metre of fabric produced. Willie Weston is small at the moment, but the unique fabric designs are bound to become favourites both here and overseas.

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Selection of fabrics from the Ampilatwatja and Tiwi collections from Willie Weston


Fabrics offer luxury and decoration, warmth and acoustic properties. Colour and texture add interest and depth to any project, and with the variety of fabrics now available there is a veritable feast of product from which to choose. May this always be the case.


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