Design houses have very much taken their own paths and shown individuality in their offerings this year, yet six themes prevail.
Home fabric trends for 2011
What's 'now and wow' when it comes to fabrics? 2011 reveals a high level of individuality, with design houses taking their own bespoke path. True, certain themes still spring up across the board, but with greater subtlety, so we are told. And despite an assumption that trend forecasters create those themes in advance, many studios actually reject that route, following instead their own noses and sources of inspiration. With this spirit of individuality echoed across the recent London Design Week and earlier, Paris' Maison & Object, there is ample new and distinct from which to seek inspiration. That and the fact that spring always uplifts with its brighter palette translates to a pleasing sampling of all that's printed, stitched, woven or gorgeously manipulated.
If one must concede to specific fabric trends in 2011, then certain themes prevail: digital florals; architectural and busy pictorial prints; and metallics or shimmering effects — either boldly evident or more softly spoken. New Orient and tribal/ethnic patterns associated with indigenous cultures also flourish: from rhythmic African repeats to modern ikats and paisleys, and most notably a leaning towards the ancient Silk Road with prints and weaves inspired by the Caucuses. Finally, there's a penchant this season for all things blue: cobalt, aquamarine, delft, cornflower, ink, slate and blue-black, while paint-box primaries make a daring splash elsewhere.
Swiss Designer Claudia Claviezel leads the pack in the digital floral sweep with wild hued mixes of large and small flowers over snapshots of North African tile work. Likewise, Designers Guild has gone boldly digital with its flower panorama of Mariedal Cobalt. Most distinctive, however, are the music and art influences behind the new digital florals in the expansive Liberty Art Fabrics AW 2011 collection. Jill Furmanovski, famed rock photographer, created For Jimi, a floral batik, digitally printed by the iconic London company, while, enthuses head designer Emma Mawston, "our in-house design team were inspired by a brief to create an album cover of a band which each particular studio member would wish to be in. The end result is a mixture of detailed highly coloured florals created with graphite, ink, paint and pastels and a splattered graphic explosion of colour." Highlights of this collection include, "Symposium - detailed hand drawn roses, surrounded by broken prisms of paint; Bailando en mis Suenos - a chalk pastel, almost velveteen floral, rich and Avatar like; or A Stitch in Time - a water colour floral which melts into areas of painting, stitching and textures," she adds.
Pictorial prints & architecture
French brand Pierre Frey's Pin Up fabric gets nostalgic with images of 1950s bathers, while his Toits de Paris is a black and white print of Parisian rooftops. Then there's Osborne & Little's architectural Loggia, a holographic foil which also slots into the metallic trend, or the large scale Laguna, both from the Grand Tour collection. As with Laguna, twitchers will be delighted by Ornithology, by Edwyn Collins, frontman of British 80s band Orange Juice, who drew a bird a day while recovering from a cerebral haemorrhage in 2005. His collective, detailed drawings make up this printed design for Liberty. Marimekko's Ruutukaava sheet sets by designer Maija Louekari for Crate & Barrel sport a graphic cityscape: a three-dimensional tour de force of grids, crosshatching and pops of red and teal, while UAE based Color Industry's fairytale street or Amsterdam street scene cushions are deliciously cheery. Most innovative, perhaps, is Barcelona born Christian Zuzunaga's pixel art urban-scapes for Danish company Kvadrat.
Old Silk Road, Orient and Tribal
The ancient Silk Road crops up in a few design houses as in Osborne and Little's plush linen-silk Kolam fabric in the Karavansara range. Spanish textile house Gaston Y Daniela's latest Nuevas Tapiceías 2011 features Uzbek in inspiring colourways including naranja or antracita; while the Nuevas Estempados range has the jewel coloured Kazahstan Violeta — both with Central Asian ikat inspiration. Gorgeous large-scale ikats crop up at the fabulous Zimmer & Rhodes windows at Chelsea Harbour this season, in Anthropologie's embroidered ikat lamp shades, or Designers Guild's youthful Espanola Way from its hip Miami line. Ikats make way for paisley revivals as in Liberty Art Fabrics the large-scale Rock and Roll Rachel, which, explains Mawston, "pays tribute to the importance of paisley within 'Rock and Roll' clothing and also Liberty's heritage via the Silk Route." Welsh brand Elanbach delights in two softer but still sprightly paisleys called Dharamsala, as does Osborne & Little with multicoloured, embroidered Nizam (including soft silvery highlights that also pick up on the shimmer trend). Paving its own fine path, French brand Élitis exceeds expectations with largely tribal influenced collections. A mixture of textures and designs within the Caravansésrail range (jacquard velvets, sheers, embroidered cottons and printed silks) replete with primal motifs, colours and symbolism, plus the rapturous India line, instinctively capture the imagination.
Shimmer and Metal
Élitis also incorporates silver, aluminium and bronze tones in its contemporary wall coverings from non-woven sheers to those made of Japanese straw, horse hair, bamboo or silk. Golden and pewter highlights ring out in Christian Fishbacher's sheers, while Svarovski has produced its first, technologically advanced, Elements wallpaper collection, with shiny crystals applied directly during printing. Truly mind-bending from Osborne & Little are two light-catching, metallic wallpapers: Damiera and Goldoni, while bead-effect Kikko Trellis in silver glistens. Likewise, Harlequin offers a series of vinyls and non-woven wallpapers, including sparkly Entice and Enigma.
Singing the Blues
Blues of all kinds appear across the globe as in NYC based Stark carpets' key colours of inks and blue-blacks, or fellow Americans John Robshaw Textiles who pair cornflower and delft blues with sienna and palest neutrals. Hong Kong's Tai Ping carpets includes plenty of blues in its organic Elements collections, while Elanbach softens with circular blues in Glyswen Grey Blue or Navy, stripes of Tretower Blue or fluid Lagoa blue-brown fabrics. Eager for more? Check out Designers Guild fabrics like the appliquéd cobalt on white Coconut Grove bed linen, decorative Bergius wallpaper in blue, black and white or refined ice blue Svoboda rug. Finally, funky Bo Concept shows off the colour in its Midnight Blue wool cushion and paint box blue fabric over the Drum footstool.
Flashes of Vivid Colour
Swerving off course from the blues, is the bold colour-blocking that shows there's no room for shyness this season. Pointing to the striking Parana Stripe wallpaper by Lorca at Osborne & Little, Design Manager Weaves, Sue Hardie, concedes that "the acid yellow of last year now emerges in a fresh, modern light, particularly in these asymmetrical stripes of silk and cotton satin." Black and white bring balance to what could otherwise be an overpowering hue. Nearby, delicate black bobbles skirt a canary yellow Xanadu Chintz cushion "adding a flirty, feminine twist." Kas Australia gives us Soho — a Carnaby stripe in electric blue, black, white and red, or Jackson — a 'Pollackesque' splattering of colour: blues, purples, yellows and limes. Thailand's Jim Thompson offers vivacious Channa (chickpea) dots or the vivid, disjointed stripes of Bamboozle, while Top Floor Rugs/Wood has its multi-coloured, braided rubber rug which looks like a box of Haribo sweets. Pleasing too is Gaston Y Daniela's Tasaduk cheniles in aquas, aubergines and oranges and the worn look velvet Tango in an array of both bold as well as buffed tones such as ochre, lavender and lead. Such gorgeous 'roasted' or 'worn', muted brights (oxymoronic as that sounds) offer a lovely counterpoint to all of the punchy primaries and moody blues around town.
Everywhere you look in the world of textiles, the mood of the moment is individual, niche and all about charting one's own course. So if there's something you dislike, just swing over to another fabric showroom: this year, you're bound to stumble across a motif, colour combination, pattern or texture that speaks, and sometimes even shouts, for itself.