In the 21st century with the technology for instant communication across the globe and a seemingly unquenchable appetite for the aquisition of consumable items there is an infinite choice of fabrics with which to decorate ourselves and our homes. This is fuelled by the fashion industry and the media with the constant flow of new “must-have” designs at the latest cat-walk shows and home exhibitions.
We are also able to experience the fashions of the past and those of other cultures with access to personal collections acquired by museums and heritage organisations and the ease of air travel. These, in turn, provide inspiration for new designs and the cycle of consumption continues.
These days there is almost too much choice when looking for fabric in the sample books at an upholstery supplier. You can go down the traditional route with your safe Sanderson floral:
Abingdon by Sanderson
Netherfield Stripe by Sanderson
You can look back at designers from the past who still influence interior design fashion today, like William Morris:
or you can look forward to see how technology inspires designers like these modern fabrics, Braille, Blink and Molecular by the Danish company Unika Vaev:
Some of my favourite fabrics are inspired by world cultures and vintage designs, like these from Alexander Henry:
Roping – images of American rodeo horsemanship
Shinto – oriental graphics and a subdued palette
Skullduggery – Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ imagery
and others are produced to comply with environmental briefs, like these sustainable fabrics from Instyle of Australia:
Polyeurethane fabrics that have a less environmental impact than conventional vinyl fabrics
There appear to be as many different fashions in interior fabric design as there are designers and obviously consumers are going to be drawn to a variety of designs, depending on their personal style, aspirations and pocket. Where you live is also going to be a factor but it is my impression that high street interior style in fabrics at the moment is still quite traditional with floral or geometric designs but with bolder colours, scale of pattern and more of a sense of fun.
I would say one of the most influential arbiters of high street interior design is Ikea. A quick flick through House Beautiful, Real Homes, Living Etc and similar magazines indicates that many people enjoy living in light, airy rooms with light-coloured, modern furniture incorporating colourful fabrics such as this room set furnished in Orla Kiely’s designs:
Scandinavian style has been on trend now for some time but I think it will endure because of the clean and fresh look it gives. Some of my favourites are:
The Seablanket by Vík Prjónsdóttir made from Icelandic sheep’s wool
Mello by Spira inspired by the ric rac braid used to decorate traditional scandinavian costume
Unikko by Marimekko – originally designed by Maija Isola in 1964
There is a definite swing towards natural fibres with cotton, linen and wool available and affordable, like this 100% wool blanket from Ikea decorated in polyester thread embroidery:
Birgit throw, Ikea
Millwood Yellow linen rich upholstery fabric by Laura Ashley
Verapaz Mantaro Berry – a large scale multicoloured check design on a woven linen and cotton voile from Designers Guild
I have to say I am much more drawn to the more traditional fabrics made from natural fibres. I also like the bold colours and fun patterns of Scandinavian style and when window shopping during my lunch break I would often linger at Shannon in Walcot Street in Bath where I would covet the PVC Marimekko table cloth fabric, stroke the Klippan Moose throws and chuckle at the Moomin products, remembering my own childhood enjoyment of the stories and then of reading them to my own children.