As with any world's fair, an exhibit is devoted to interpretations of the home of the future—this year's based on the cocooning theme with displays from 16 Flemish textile mills. Of course, there are contract and residential trend banks brimming with new ideas from the most fashion-forward companies from nearly every continent and every country in the world.
High-tech/high touch was a recurring theme in the fabric collections presented at Decosit 2000, the 22nd annual event held at Expo Brussel. While fabrics were tactile with an emphasis on natural fibers and traditional techniques, surprising combinations of synthetic yarns with wool, or hemp, linen and even raffia, appeared throughout the 430 stands.
The most interesting fabrics featured shine and glimmer derived via a multitude of technological tricks from the combination of matte and satin weaving by Belgian style leader, Goeters, to the use of a newer, softer Lurex metallic yarn by Deltracon, also of Belgium. Enzo degli Angiuoni of Italy achieved a technological breakthrough with its Indian-inspired Darjeeling collection, but received equal credit for fashion-forwardness with its Japanese Kabuki, a group of batik-effect woven designs.
Darjeeling featured piece-dyed yarn and boucles with surface interest and glistening texture that gave new meaning to the term solid color. The sensual, jewel-toned palette could indeed be traced to Indian roots: strong, sharp shades of lilac, violet and shocking pink gradated to bright red, orange and a shrill yellow. But with shimmering metallic texture, the tones appeared contemporary and vital—a stark contrast to the Indian-inspired beading prevalent in interior textiles of recent seasons.
A formality and dressiness has replaced the heavy woven textures and neutral colors of the past decade. And while buyers were on the lookout for innovative replacements for the ubiquitous chenille, it was still a mainstay in woven collections—the most exciting updated with subtle Lurex shine or innovative surface patterning such as Arc-Com's snake skin chenille, Anaconda.
CONTRACT TRENDS FOLLOW RESIDENTIAL
Compared to prior seasons, the choices for fabric buyers are indeed expanding. Embroidery was everywhere at Decosit from delicate tracery in sheers to Richloom's Indian Summer, a printed crewel so realistic it attracted a number of international buyers to the company's Platinum line. Pure silk was the fiber of choice; taffetas and prints made a comeback. Anticipating the revival of classic silk constructions for residential interiors, contract manufacturers pushed the technology envelope to the max—especially in the hospitality arena.
P/Kaufmann's contract division introduced Saarai, a cationic 1/8-inch stripe using a luminescent bright yarn, and Rivendell, a fire retardant taffeta polyester—in addition to cationic piece dyes, Mantua and Rotelli, all with silk-like sheen. Duralee Fabrics and its Techstyle Contract Fabrics Division debuted Crypton suede at half the price of UltraSuede, and will test market Crypton jacquards (originally created for hospitality) in the residential market this month. Vice president, Lee Silberman, announced the launch of a new company, Prestige by Duralee for the upper end (showroom) fabric market, and sneak previewed two woven collections from this new division, a formal damask and a washed chenille group.
At his stand, Peter Layne, principal at Arc-Com Fabrics, Inc., said the organic look was important to international hospitality buyers, while the office market was trending to brightly colored geometrics. Arc-Com showed six woven Crypton patterns in 58 SKUs, and a vinyl upholstery collection that truly defined the term trompe l'oeil. Layne said three vinyl patterns were exclusive to Arc-com on a worldwide level: Pebble Beach, a stand alone or correlate vinyl texture, Grassland, and Fireflies, which use metallic and matte color and pattern over the Pebble Beach ground to achieve the impression of woven fabric textures.
According to keynote speaker, Marcel Bequillard, whose New York-based interior design firm specializes in hospitality projects, clients such as Marriott, Hyatt, Inter-Continental and Parker Meridien all want a residential look. A trained textile designer, Bequillard said the challenge for fabric companies is to attain the look within budget and within code. Often, residential manufacturers are asked by the designer to increase weight and fiber on their existing fabrics for hospitality. In his presentation, Bequillard showed recent installations where light colored carpeting and fabrics belie their flame retardant and soil resistant properties.
Dan Dobin, president of Valley Forge Fabrics, Inc., agreed that the lines between residential and contract fabrics are blurring. "Hotels have to sell a renewable product every day," he explained. "We can't just be a source of decorative upholstery fabrics: we have to help sell the room or the restaurant seat." Valley Forge addressed the design shift in hospitality fabrics toward softer hand and fashion-right colors with woven yarn-dyed jacquards, which Dobin said are replacing prints in guestrooms—in bedspreads, duvets and draperies. Valley Forge showed its Crypton line, marketed under the SuderTex trademark in woven jacquards, and what Dobin said was the first 100 percent Avora woven jacquard collection, yarn-dyed in warp and fill.
TREND BANK 2002
While buying next year's upholstery fabrics is the main order of business for the 14,000 Decosit visitors, many come to discern trends to keep their own furniture and window coverings on track for seasons to come. An additional source of new ideas is the concurrently running Indigo show, where 150 textile designers sell their designs to manufacturers and retailers.
For Decosit 2000, fashion forecasters determined last April the most important trends for this September's show—which they entitled, Transfusion Trends 2002. Exhibitors from around the world were asked to submit their entries for the seven predetermined categories.
The resulting trend bank featured 200 of the most fashion-forward fabrics found at the show. The seven Transfusion themes included:
•Natural Fake—a fusion of animal skin patterns and natural, vegetal motifs.
•Instant Instinct—a new rustic, highly tactile category fusing the ethnicity in African, Indian and Latin America cultures with hides, feathers, animal skins and human skin tones.
•Spiritual Party—high tech fibers and fabrics in outlandish patterns and fun concepts that mock tradition.
Other trends included:
•Flower Power featuring plants, flowers, leaf designs, branches and all things natural including the threads and fibers used.
•Folk Song with folklore and gypsy motifs as it inspiration, with crafted decorations such as embroidery and large patchwork-stitched patterns.
•The Living Structure theme emphasized new materials that are comfortable, bacteria-resistant; breathable, perspiration-absorbent and heat retentive.
•Fantastic Realistic fused fun and architectural influences together with movement to produce holograms, trompe l'oeil and other futuristic-looking fabrics.
General manager, Patrick Geysels, announced the addition of Deco Contract 2001, a separate show to run next year concurrently with the Decosit fabric fair, September 9 to 12, 2001. The contract show will include a total presentation of soft surface products for commercial interiors, including floor coverings, wall coverings and fabric. For more information contact www.decosit.be or www.textirama.be.
Carol Tisch is the president of Marketing Resources Network, a home fashions marketing/consulting and custom publishing business. She has been in the home furnishings field for the past 20 years, most recently as editor in chief of Home Furnishings News. She is a regular contributor to online, consumer publication e-gear.