contributed by Johnnie Stark, ASID, LEED® AP [interior designer / textile goddess / sales representative for Anzea Textiles]
The holiday season has arrived and the mailbox is bursting with catalogues. Along with the usual gift, card, and too-much-good-food selections, there are clothing catalogues with the latest in career wear that promises to keep you well-pressed and tidy (wrinkle free and stain resistant), and outerwear with the latest in thermal insulation and water repellency (beautiful vests and parkas that will keep you warm and dry on your way to the office or on the most extreme ski trip). But did you realize that all this amazing fiber technology is also alive and well in the textiles you specify as “furniture clothes” for your contract projects” Fabrics are now engineered to offer…
- moisture barrier protection
- anti-microbial properties
- stain resistance
- increased durability
- flame resistance
- superior colorfastness
- recycled/recyclable content
Well, you get the idea. Just so you know, some of these features are integral to the fiber, and some can be added as finishes.
Ah, but as it is in life, so it is design. Increased choices bring increased responsibility. So… it’s up to you (as a designer) to determine what your client’s environment requires, research the alternatives, and then develop your specification. Here are some questions to help you get started:
- What codes does the product pass”
Most fabrics that are marketed for the contract industry meet the minimum performance guidelines cited by the Association for Contract Textiles (ACT). Flammability is the primary life-safety issue to consider when specifying a fabric. ACT guidelines dictate different testing methods based on the intended application of the fabric. For example, upholstery used on a piece of furniture must pass the California Technical Bulletin #117 Section E – Class 1. Visit the ACT website, www.contract-textiles.org, for a discussion of testing criteria for vertical applications, such as wallcoverings and drapery.
- Can finishes be added so that the product can pass other codes”
If you are unsure as to what tests the product has passed, check with the manufacturer. Solutions are usually simple, such as adding a FR (flame resistant) backcoating to a fabric to be used as a wallcovering, or having a fabric treated with a flame retardant for a drapery application.
- Has it been tested for moisture repellency or does it provide a moisture barrier”
And, other related issues, has it been tested for staining – this usually includes foodstuffs and bodily fluids – and what are the recommended cleaning methods. (These topics deserve their own in-depth discussion.)
- How is it made, and where does the fiber come from”
“Green” design has its own set of questions pertaining to the entire life cycle of the product.
The good news is that as you research these topics, you gain expertise in quality problem solving. The customized solutions you provide perform well in addition to looking fabulous, and after all, isn’t that what good design is all about”
For a later date, some “hot buttons” for your “furniture clothes”…
- What are those funny looking symbols on the back of fabric labels”
- What about those moisture barriers”
- Are 200,000 double rubs twice as good as 100,000″ And what is a double rub anyway”
- Which is greener: natural fiber or recycled fiber”””
Many thanks to just some of Anzea Textile’s many power women – specifically Johnnie Stark and Mitzi Mills – for making this feature possible. For more information about Anzea and their product offering, visit www.anzea.com.
Are you a manufacturer and want to expose your brand, an important idea or a new product to inquiring minds that want to know” Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and put HOT PROPERTY in the subject line. A little exposure goes a long way.