Textile, Carvart’s new line of laminated, curated sheer fabrics is a revelation for designers looking to add durable yet warm textures to high-traffic environments. Available in 12 different colorways and eight transparencies, the collection can warm the busiest corporate and hospitality spaces while also providing necessities like UV and moisture resistance, making it ideal for everything from sliding doors to partitions and wall claddings.
It’s also safe to say that if it wasn’t for a chance encounter with Designtex at the 2012 NeoCon show, Textile might look very different.
Carvart had tried its hand at laminated fabrics before, and even had something of a hit with a white, linen-like version that can currently be found in its headquarters. But as the company pushed to expand its laminated fabric line with more colors and opacities, it quickly discovered the challenges of pairing textiles and glass. While the natural weave effect of the original version had allowed light to filter through, most laminated fabrics blocked it out; other textiles changed color during the lamination process, making it impossible to control the final outcome.
“What we wanted wasn’t just about sandwiching some materials and kind of seeing what happens,” says Carvart CEO Edward Geyman. “It was really about the play on transparency, reflection and the light all at the same time. We didn’t want to lose that natural quality you have when you touch the textile, which you obviously lose when you laminate it with glass.”
It wasn’t until that fateful 2012 meeting in the halls of the Merchandise Mart that Carvart found its way forward. Realizing that they were virtually neighbors in New York City, executives with Carvart and Designtex agreed that a joint project was in order. Discussions about each company’s unique design capabilities led to Carvart’s quest to create a new take on laminated fabrics, and Designtex soon found itself enlisted in the effort to create the fabric needed to make it happen.
Because of the complexity of the Carvart’s requirements—the sheer polyester textiles had to have a natural feel and specific colors, but could not react to the various processes used to add safety and acoustic properties—the development process was relatively involved, requiring ongoing discussions between the two companies’ design and marketing teams. Fortunately for everyone involved, it was a road that Designtex had been down many times before.
“I always think of art as being a more solitary activity, whereas design is more of a community activity,” says Susan Lyons, president of Designtex. “It takes a lot of people to make and adjust real products. We at Designtex truly like that engagement. We like working with all the different partners that can bring different expertise to the table. It just makes for a more exciting and richer outcome.”
The solution to Carvart’s troubles eventually came in the form of a fine metallic yarn woven into a gossamer-type fabric. “The notion of merging the ideas of the metal and the glass seemed like an interesting exploration,” Lyons notes. “It gives you a wonderful feeling of the metal in parts, but that’s being juxtaposed by the real quality of the textile itself.”
The end result, laminated between two thin panes of glass, has become a utility tool for designers and architects interested in warming up spaces without losing light. The line’s 12 colors match up seamlessly with other products from
the Carvart catalog, and specifiers can choose
from a variety of sizes and glass views—including transparent, translucent and reflective styles—for a truly tailored solution. “We wanted to offer options so people can create their own product,” Geyman says. “The product really comes alive when you start adding these different layers.”
It’s this flexibility that has made Textile such a hit with the design community since its debut at the 2013 NeoCon show. Geyman notes that the product has already crossed over into the residential market and is being specified in commercial projects of all stripes—demonstrating just how hungry designers are for durable surfaces that don’t sacrifice color or texture. “It can be used in a lot of different ways, including in some that we never imagined,” he says.
For more information on Textile by Carvart, visit carvart.com.
Kylie Wroblaski is a former editor for BUILDINGS magazine, and has written previously about architecture and facilities management.