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Module 9: Textiles and Soft Furnishing

Module 9

Textiles and Soft Furnishing

From linen-wrapped mummies in ancient Egypt to Silk Road trading, intricate Renaissance laces and the high-tech fiber of NASA space suits, fabrics are woven throughout history, allowing humans to achieve extraordinary things and survive in the most unlikely and harsh of environments. These uses have influenced fabrics in interior design.

The earliest known remnants of cloth date back to the Palaeolithic era, some 32,000 years ago. These linen fibers were discovered by accident in a cave in Georgia in 2009, by a scientist searching for evidence of ancient plant life. Fast forward to today and we have hi-tech fabrics that can generate electricity and charge a mobile phone and NASA is developing next-generation suits that will enable deep space exploration.

From delicate silks to robust woolen weaves, textiles in interior design have played a crucial role in providing complexity of design – from upholstery to soft furnishings such as curtains, bed linen and cushions. They provide comfort, color, texture and pattern and range from plain and practical weaves to super luxurious silks and linens costing many hundreds of dollars per meter.

A textile is basically anything that is woven, with glass and metals included in this definition. The only common exception is felt, where the fibers are pressed and rolled together. Textiles are universal and have been carbon dated to the 9th millennia BCE (before current era).

Throughout this vast length of time, they have provided mankind with warmth, protection from draughts, decoration and cultural transmission (think of the Bayeux tapestry or nomadic weavings that tell a story).

With a vast array of textiles to choose from – from simple calico and cotton duck to rich velvets and elaborate, delicately colored document prints, from filmy sheers to textured woolen weaves – there's a fabric for every budget, every desired effect and every interior application, even for use outdoors as well. Fabrics lend essential color, richness, texture and comfort to an interior.

In this module, you'll learn how to use textiles as a decorative element and the arts of color matching and pattern matching plus the use of textiles by function, whether for upholstery, window treatments, bed covers or cushions. The weight, or density, of a textile is a literal measurement and is of vital importance when considering its practical applications such as its insulating quality and draping quality. The denser the fabric, the better its folding, creasing and hanging qualities will be.

Fabrics should be selected with utmost care for their suitability to the intended application, so this module also covers issues such as natural versus synthetic fibers, abrasion resistance, fading resistance, crocking resistance and shrinkage as well as specialty fibers for certain applications and flammability ratings for textiles used in commercial settings, such as hotels and offices.

It additionally investigates the utilization of delicate decorations in furniture design to help students understand their effect in Interior Design schemes.

Interior design influencer content

Including in module 9 is an exclusive professional interior designer influencer video from renowned interior designer, Noor Chafcharchi, CEO of Celine interior designs. Noor covers the following topics:

  • What impact and importance does soft furnishing have in an interior space?
  • What is in style for window treatments (types and materials)?
  • Why are sustainable fabrics important?

Module Outline

  1. Textile as a Decorative Element
    • Color match
    • Pattern Match
  2. Textile by Functionality
    • Upholstery
    • Window Treatments
    • Bed covers
    • Cushions
  3. Specifying Fabrics
    • Natural vs. Synthetic Fibres
    • Specialty Fibres
    • Abrasion Resistance
    • Fading Resistance
    • Crocking Resistance
    • Shrinking
  4. Safety Concerns
    • Flammability Test