Silk Velvet – What makes a great upholstery velvet

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Silk Velvet Upholstery with Fine Italian Silk

Silk Velvet really is one of the great upholstery velvets. It looks great, it feels great and it can be up to the job if your upholstery velvet is chosen wisely.

If your last and only experience of a velvet was sitting on one in the cinema then you really haven’t lived!

Firstly let’s look at silk velvet’s suitability for upholstery. It can have a Martindale Rub Test result of over 20,000 – so it CAN be readily suitable for many upholstery uses.

Composition. Just because it is sold as 100% silk can be misleading and not necessarily relevant. Is this 90% silk velvet better than that 100% silk velvet? You just can’t answer that by simply looking at the composition.

A silk velvet that is sold as being 100% silk may in fact be a 100% silk velvet pile and 100% cotton backcloth. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. If it is the look and feel of the silk that you are looking for then maybe it’s best to just consider the pile (assuming the backcloth is up to the job of course). One of our fine silk velvets has a 100% pile and then a backcloth of silk and cotton – with the cotton being added for strength and the overall silk content being 90%. Compare this to our Italian Silk & Cashmere Velvet which has a 70% silk + 30% cashmere pile.

Next look at the silkiness or the shininess. If you are looking for a silk velvet you will usually want a shine.

Consider too the length of the pile. Again, there is nothing inherently good or bad about a long or short pile. A shorter pile may be more rigid and upright and that could be a characteristic that you are looking for. Alternatively, a longer pile will probably lay better in one direction – and you may well want that characteristic.

The weight of the fabric in grams per metre is often used as a measure of quality. That is not always true and could, for example, easily be distorted by a heavy and poor quality backcloth.

My personal preference would be to get my hand on a sample; feel it and look at it. What I look for and prefer is a slightly more rigid and consistent pile with a very dense weave. I would look carefully at the country of manufacture. I prefer an Italian velvet (mainly because it sounds better!) but if not Italian then I would certainly only consider a velvet produced in mainland western Europe. But don’t copy me, have the confidence to choose what you like – you are going to have to live with it. I would now choose my upholsterer carefully; many years ago a velvet-covered chair came back for me from a local upholsterer and the pile was not running in a consistent direction…it didn’t look great (read ‘awful’). So don’t, like me, assume that all upholsters know what they are doing with velvets, they patently don’t all know. I would then read our guide to upholstering with velvet – a designer’s worksheet and armed with a bit of knowledge quiz your upholsterer carefully.

Interior Designers: Must Blog Better – But How?

Content Mix: Content Marketing Institute
Content Mix: Content Marketing Institute

The content Marketing Institute created that nice little image up there that  shows what a content mix might be.

This image has been bandied about on various websites as THE correct mix. It isn’t THE correct mix but it’s a good starter to make you think. It might make you think you are entertaining your potential clients too much or it might make you think you are being a bit boring talking about kitchen worksurfaces a little too much.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

For a start it’s saying that you should blog 6 times a week or at least create content 6 times a week. For small businesses that just ain’t gonna happen in the real world.

However it certainly DOES give you ideas about what to write next.

Provide relevant information: Perhaps contribute to a thread somewhere telling people about some of the great things you learnt with a particular product on your last project.

Teach: Show you really know what you are talking about. Share some knowledge in an authoritative way on how you do your job.

Start a conversation: Perhaps on a LinkedIn group or your Facebook business page.

Inspire: others to do better. This could be on a forum or your could write something.

Entertain: Never hurts to make someone laugh.

How do you explain INTERIOR DESIGN to a 6 year old boy?

RandomBoyWondering
Image Credit: http://blog.marketo.com/

“How do you explain Interior Design to a 6 year old boy?”

That is the question.

I’ve posted the same question and a link to this (evolving) article on LinkedIn. You can take the question literally if you wish. As a reward I will link back to you from this page for any noteworthy (good or bad!) answers that I might paraphrase for the sake of brevity. The more ‘sensibly’ creative your answer the more likely I will include you and your answer. Go create.

Designcouncil.org.uk describes interior design as “Interior design isn’t just about home decoration. It is concerned with creating functional and beautiful to look at interior spaces in all sorts of places including houses, public buildings and commercial properties such as shops, restaurants, leisure venues and offices. Interior design can also be applied to temporary environments, whether that’s pop-up shops that are in existence for just a few months at a time, or show homes and exhibition stands that may simply last days. Anything that has an interior can be designed, redesigned or refurbished.”

Whereas Wikipedia suggests: “… a group of various yet related projects that involve turning an interior space into an ‘effective setting for the range of human activities’ that are to take place there”

Rebecca at RHA Interiors: “[if all else]…fails I always go for the football analogy,  ‘why choose red over blue?’”

Terry Maurer makes interesting comments noting that kids are increasingly influencers in the interior design purchasing and commissioning process in families.

Mark Randall at 1901 Design would ask the boy to learn what interior design means by “doing”  And the boy would be asked to create his perfect den. Sharon Kaper suggests a similar “show-and-tell” approach.

Mike Major suggests it should be no different to explaining it to a potential client.

More Black Faux Leather Upholstery

Faux Leather is great for upholstery. Here is a time lapse video of the full process if you want to know how it is done. We would be happy to point you to a local upholsterer but please remember that we only sell the faux leather upholstery fabric. If you would like samples please drop us an email request <here> (trade only). We have several collections of faux leather in most colourways including base colours (black, brown, green, blue, red, yellow, gold) muted neutrals and metallic finishes.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/E333E2nRke4]

Interior Design Buzz Words – Trends and Which Bug You?

English: Selection of Danish Modern chairs at ...
English: Selection of Danish Modern chairs at the Danish Design Center, Copenhagen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Modern vs Contemporary: Contemporary is usually something that is modern or recent looking yet which takes something ‘good’ from the past such as, for example, GOOD traditional materials. Modern may sometimes (and probably incorrectly) infer a degree of futuristic design.

Vintage vs Retro vs Reproduction: Something vintage is from its original period. Retro is something that has been recently made in the style of an older piece or period. Reproduction is a copy of an item some time after its original period has finished. A fake is a reproduction that is specifically designed to be passed off as an original.

Selective indulgence: You probably haven’t got the budget to have a fully indulgent design. So instead you choose to be indulgent on certain concept or focus pieces that make a statement.

Organic – This can mean ‘eco’ in modern parlance. But you should also be aware that others use it to mean natural in a very broad sense – for example to how your entire scheme works together and fits to the space.

Energy: This is more about emotions and feelings than the vividness of colours or eye-catchingness of objects.

Re-purpose – this means more than just to re-use something. Yes you re-use it but you re-use it for a different purpose.

Diversified Portfolio: You have more than just taupe in the photos of your past work 😉 Your portfolio will show different types of projects, say, a classic villa and a contemporary restaurant

Collaborative spaces – allow spaces for group work but also allow such spaces to be able to be used and re-used for different functions or groups.

What do you think?or what is your bug bear?

Interior Designers in 2012 – How Do People Find You On The Web?

English: Chester Square, Belgravia.
Image via Wikipedia

The interior design world moves on and so does the way your clients use the internet to find you. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not.

Just after we have spent ages (days! weeks! months!…years?!) trying to figure out what search terms our clients might type into Mr Google, and then incorporate that into our online presences(s), we find they are morphing how they search into something new and far more sinister.

Would you believe it? In the design world, a place based on aesthetics, those darned potential customers are using images to find us. How annoying is that? It seems like only yesterday when we ignored images because we knew that google can’t really ‘see’ them and we balanced that by putting all the right words everywhere. We even got the odd first page google listing for some odd convoluted phrase that one client a year might potentially type!!

So now it seems that we have to go back to what we naively thought was right all along. All we have to do is just put lots of pretty pictures onto our site and the whole world will come flocking to our door.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

Well, maybe! I’ll backtrack a little and explain where I’m coming from before everyone gets a little too excited!

I’ll come from one simple factoid. One of my interior design industry based web sites has about 500 hits a day. Not bad, I suppose. I looked into some of the stats a bit more last week and found that by far the most number of hits came from google. Fine. About 85% of the hits in fact. Nothing new there then? No.

But; there’s always a “but”.

When I delved deeper I found that 19% of the google hits were coming from the GOOGLE IMAGES part of the google search site. IE the bit where you type in ‘mohair velvet fabric’ (or whatever) and then find you have loads of pages returned to you, so you click on the images bit on the left hand side and it only shows you (in theory) lots of pretty pictures of mohair velvet fabrics. (As well as lots of other junk of course, but on the whole it’s not too bad).

19%. that’s quite a lot.

So I looked at different time frames and, yes, that 19% was pretty consistent over at least the last 6 months. Maybe 17%, maybe 23%, it varied. That’s still enough of a trend for me to believe it and I’m sure it would hold true if I  had bothered to look further back in time.

So what’s going on here then?

Well firstly it showed that I am doing some things right. I am putting images alongside my musings. It makes it easier to read, pretty pictures – some perhaps even relevant – just like a magazine. Also for the images to have been recognised by google then I must also have tagged them (the ALT tag if you want to be more precise in HTML terms). So yes I had images in my musing and they were correctly tagged images. That is, the images had a bit of text manually put on them by me. To make matters better I had also called the images the same thing (broadly) as the tags I intended to use.

Google looks at:

1. The name of your JPEG;

2. The image size;

3. The alt tags you give to the image; and peripherally at

4. The physical colour scale of the image (it can recognise it is mostly green, for example).

The first three of these are very important the 3rd much less so.

So you’ve just done a great design job for one of your better clients. You upload some pics of the rooms to your online portfolio and voila! 100s of people will beat their way to your internet door!…er no.

Let’s say you had this great picture of the main room. So you upload img_1325.jpg to your site and you cleverly ALT-TAG it as “main-room-31-randomstreet-localtown”.

Not good. Assuming it was not a tiny thumbnail image here is something along the lines of what you should have done:

1. Called it “contemporary-modern-home-belgravia.jpg” – or something similarly appropriate; and

2. Tagged it as “contemporary, modern, home, Belgravia” – or something similarly appropriate.

You get the idea? The keywords you have already discovered that work in the text of your writings now also need to be judiciously applied to your images. Get cracking!

1. How to get links to your web site 

2. Interior Designers: Why does no-one visit your web site 

3. Interior Design Marketing Strategies 

4. Effective Ad Writing For Interior Designers on Facebook

5. Five Crucial Bits For Your Facebook Business Page

6. Seven Facebook Mistakes Interior Designers Make

Designer Fabrics & Luxury Wallcoverings 2012 – Latest Collections of Faux Leather & Raffia

British Institute of Interior Design

Interior Design 101. Back to basics.

Minimally patterned, plain and simple patterns matter when you choose designer fabrics for your interior design scheme. It’s not just the ‘important’ stuff you have to worry about; it’s all the stuff.

Design after design. Pattern after pattern. Squashed into corners. Covered ceilings. Hung on walls. Something here, something there… OK you might have certain pieces that take centre stage in your grand design but you also have to set the stage with the backdrops, the reflected light, the subtle blend of auxiliary textures.

To a certain degree, if you must, you can compromise on the backdrops. It’s great having a silk panelled wall, relatively inexpensive and good to the touch. Not so good when it fades at differing rates in the exposed sun-lit areas of the room.

So when you choose designer fabrics yes you should be wowed by the colours, designs and textures BUT you should also be wowed and interested in the technical properties. Your clients might initially thank you for a great looking job. They won’t thank you if it starts to fall apart. they may well have already paid you at that point (so you’re OK right?) but will you then get recommended to their friends…probably not. It is so, so easy to make this kind of mistake.

So try faux silk rather than silk. It looks and feels pretty much the same but can be excellent in terms of non-fading.

So try faux leather. A wide variety of finishes and qualities are available and many are great for wall covering (!) as well as upholstery. Great to cover chairs or a bar in a restaurant but also in your kitchen as they can relatively easily be cared for and cleaned. If you love leather you might find that your upholsterer might not love that choice as you are working with hides of varying sizes, whereas with faux leather you are working with a fabric available by the metre.

Click for faux leather or faux silk designer fabric samples.

A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics

Luxury Silk velvet From KOTHEA
Truly beautiful Cashmere Silk Velvet by KOTHEA

KOTHEA Fabric Picks For A Chilly Winter’s Day
With Verity du Sautoy of KOTHEA.

We love the seasons. All have their beauties and all have touched our senses in memorable ways over the years. Winter is no exception: lower, more balanced light; quietness and chaos with both the shopping and the weather; festive celebrations; the cuddle of a loved one; the hope and expectation of early spring flowers grasping for rare and tiny glimmers of light; and, perhaps, the welcomed warmth of a beautiful fabric.

Some of my best memories are centred on family: a warm fire; a little baby; or a bouncing toddler. Then an old children’s classic on the iPlayer watched on my Mac as it balances precariously on an elegant coffee table. I stroke my children’s hair with one hand and rest my other hand on my sofa. A generous cushion is warm, encapsulating and a bit of fun for the little ones to hide under. The curtains are not yet fully drawn but they smooth the boundary to the cold outside and give us tantalising glimpses of the world beyond – should we venture too close to the sheers that offer the final, soft protection from the elements.

Dominika B Tana Lawn

I work for a fabric company. I love fabric. I can’t pretend that it (fabric) is a be-all and end-all to life and that somehow it will make your life complete. It can’t. But what it clearly can do is complete the sensory experiences in the parts of life that, if you choose, you have control over…the parts of your home. Memories are not just photo-like snapshots in your brain; they are stored, multi-sensory splashes of emotion.

Here are my Winter picks. They are actual ‘picks’ that I’ve recently purchased or are about to purchase.

Take my sofa as an example. My sofa isn’t Continue reading “A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics”

Fabric Awards 2011 – Homes & Gardens

Alpaca-wool.
Image via Wikipedia

23 September 2011, Decorex and Homes & Garden Magazine will be looking for the most inspirational fabrics and wallpapers that are launched in Spring or Autumn 2011.

There are several awards that may interest readers including

Here is a link to the 2010 winners. See if  you are inspired. On the whole we weren’t.

Wyzenbeek – Martindale – Abrasion Testing

Nähzwirn 3-fach
Image via Wikipedia

I would be rich if I were to be given one pound for every time we are asked, “What is the best upholstery fabric to use on my sofa?” Typically the questioner means ‘most durable’ rather than ‘best’.  You could buy a near bullet-proof fabric with a Martindale score of several hundred thousand but could you live with it!

‘Simple’ measures of durability such as Martindale and Wyzenbeek overlay complex structures of the fabric. This covers the construction of the yarns and design of the weave weave as well as the fibre chosen. Furthermore, finishes, sofa/furniture design, maintenance regimes and usage are variables that very significantly affect the life of your fabric.

More Martindale links here and here and here

There is a close link between fiber strength and yarn strength. Yarns are twisted to add strength – generally a tighter twist gives a stronger yarn. This is measured in Twists Per Inch or Meter (TPI or TPM). Tightly twisted yarns are generally smooth and dense. This brings us to weave design. Weaves can be extremely complicated and difficult to structurally model and understand. Just knowing the fibers, yarn and weave construction still doesn’t answer the basic question – an objective measurement is needed. Test were developed to determine wear. They are better known as abrasion tests and many Interior Designers today refer to these test results as THE way to measure fabric durability. Abrasion test are supposed to forecast how well a fabric will wear in upholstery applications.

There are two tests: Martindale in Europe and Wyzenbeek in the USA. The tests are different and there is no correlation between the two. With Wyzenbeek (ASTM D4157-02): a piece of cotton duck fabric or wire mesh is rubbed in a straight back and forth motion on a piece of fabric until “noticeable wear” or thread break is evident. One back and forth motion is called a “double rub” (dbl rub). Whereas with Martindale (ASTM D4966-98): the abradant in this test is worsted wool or wire screen, the fabric specimen is a circle or round shape and the rubbing is undertaken in a figure 8, unlike the straight line of the Wyzenbeek. One figure 8 is a cycle – hence the terms Martindale cycles.

Contract fabrics would normally meet these criteria:

General contract: Wyzenbeek 15,000 Martindale 20,000

Heavy duty contract Wyzenbeek 30,000 Martindale 40,000

Whereas for domestic applications:

Light residential Wyzenbeek 6,000, Martindale 9,000

Medium use residential Wyzenbeek 9,000 Martindale 15,000

Heavy use residential 15,000 Martindale 30,000 or higher

The higher the result the more likely the fabric is to be more durable. (Source of the above figures can be provided on request to the author)

With figures over 100,000 then there may be an issue with the applicability of the results and certainly how the fabrics’ care regime is implemented will have more of an influence on its longevity.

Some commentators question the validity of test results. In my experience in the UK, test houses are independent and are strictly monitored by British Standards and no one fabric company is big enough to be able to ‘ask for’ results to be skewed. Nor, I’m sure, would any fabric company want to put a supplier in that position if only for the reason that it is in no-one’s interests to undermine the authority of independent industry bodies that, in general, regulate for the greater good of all.