Our sense of touch unites us all, regardless of where you’re from, whether you’re old or young, male or female, rich or poor. Silky fabrics, nubby embroidery, smooth glass, supple leather…a variety of textures in an environment adds tactile and visual interest. To find a plethora of design options, buyers and designers need look no further than Floor 7 of Building 1. You’ll find the DÉCOR | Light & Lifestyles collection, along with Home Accents, Home Furnishings, Fine Linens and Home Textiles exhibitors, each with their own tactile story to tell.
Diverse fabrics No one knows better how texture unites cultures than Leo Kraidelman, founder of Karma Living. His company sources unique, handcrafted home décor items from all over the world, including countries in South America, such as Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador; as well as India, West Africa, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
“We’ve specialized in textiles since the mid ‘90s, so we offer a wide variety of textures which result directly from the diversity of yarns as well as the weaving and knitting techniques that we use on each collection,” says Kraidelman. His company works with textiles as varied as a blend of sheep and llama wool from South America, hand-stitched silk from Calcutta, and vintage mudcloth from West Africa.
“Textiles are a second skin for every human being,” says Kraidelman. “It’s what they use to cover, protect, what they use to connect with each other.”
Aside from pillows, throws, rugs, table linens, and top of bed, the company also specializes in embroidered ornaments and wall art. One collection is embroidered wall art based on painted animal faces by American artists. The other collection is based on the persona and designs of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The designs are embroidered on satin, and embellished with sequins, lace, and beads. “The embellishments give life and shine and enhance that tactile experience,” says Kraidelman. “Ornaments need to shine and reflect light.”
Embroidery is an important component to the offerings of Creative Threads. The company’s factory in India turns out elegant drapery panels, matelassé bedding, pillows and fabric by the yard. Most items are linen or linen-cotton blends, with embroidered designs, applique and other embellishments. Embroidered ogees and diamonds, or hand-block printing are among the many techniques that are found in Creative Threads’ offerings. In particular, the company has perfected the art of velvet applique on a linen/cotton base, giving the designs a tactile, three-dimensional effect.
“Most of embroideries we do are on a flatweave fabric; I want the customers to focus on the embroidery rather than on the fabric itself,” says Ravneet Bagga, president. “And every embroidery design we create has to have something unique about it. For instance, on a floral design, the leaves might have different texture and if you run your finger over the leaves you’ll feel the raised embroidery.”
Natural materials Brazilian hair on cowhides are the focus of Chesterfield Leather, which is known for its throws and pillows. The company works with a variety of hides, including Tibetan lamb, Australian sheepskin, and long haired mountain goat.
“Texture is a big part of every Chesterfield product,” says Danielle Rutter, operations manager. “As a natural product, no two cowhides are exactly alike. While you could describe our cowhides overall as being soft, the way your hand slides over the hair, and the thickness and texture, will be unique to each hide. Even the variations in how tightly the hair is curled are as unique as snowflakes in a storm," she says.
Rutter especially loves showing off the company’s long haired mountain goat throws and pillows to prospective customers. “They are so soft and luxurious,” she says. And the company never shies away from trying new and unexpected combinations. The line of Devore cowhides, for example, mixes the hair of the cowhide with clusters of smooth metallic.
In Lands Downunder, “texture plays a huge part in the design of our products,” notes Victoria Salerno, creative manager. “For example, our New Zealand mohair throws offer a long pile brushed finish and a luster that only mohair can produce. We also offer a brushed alpaca throw collection woven in New Zealand that achieves loft and an incomparable natural softness.”
Also in the line: Italian Cashmere Merino waffle-weave throws, and the Italian Strato blanket collection, which uses nylon yarns and merino wool for a pillowy effect.
"Texture has an important role in the composition of a room," says Salerno. “Adding texture with one of our colorful throw blankets can help reflect the customer’s personal style and expression. Throw blankets with exceptional texture, such as alpaca and mohair, will not only add a pleasing and inviting accessory; they add the appearance of luxury and stature.”
While textiles offer an element of texture, so do decorative accessories. Twigs and Moss, for example, is known for its handmade decoupage trays. And while the antique images are visually interesting, with layering and inked detail, they’re encased under smooth glass in a technique known as reverse decoupage. Haas uses antique prints that she sources from dealers as far-flung as England and Germany; her latest acquisitions include themes of butterflies, botanicals and sea life.
Whether hard or soft, smooth or rough, incorporating texture in all its forms is sure to add interest and appeal to any retail space.