The Fabric Of Great Design

Presenting a rich palette of colors, patterns, and textures, fabric can be your go-to for design inspiration, by Sara Chiarilli

If you are like me as a designer, every project starts with that one, perfect inspirational object. For me it is almost always fabric. The perfect fabric that tells a story – and foreshadows what is to come – is, for me, absolutely critical to a great design. To find that fabric, though, requires inspiration and a new perspective on the process.

I recently had the opportunity to get in the heads of – and see what inspires – the designers at Kravet, Inc. Did you know that they have an archive of all their fabrics, as well as work by weavers and artisans around the world? Each new collection begins in this archive, where they find inspiration in its exclusive prints, great patterns and artwork. And it never gets old, as Scott Kravet is constantly sourcing new pieces. His favorite story is about a trip he took to Budapest to go through and purchase pieces from a sixth-generation French weaver. There were over 100,000 pieces to peruse and select from. When he got home, his sister in law, with an eye to the financial ledger, asked him if he had any idea how much money he had spent. His brother, looking at this rich new deposit of ideas, said, “You idiot, go back and buy more!”


Of course, when we select those inspirational fabrics, we must always keep function in mind. One of my favorite additions to the performance fabric world is Crypton. We have been using Crypton for commercial projects for years (they have been around for 25 years), but 5 years ago they broke into the residential market and changed our design process forever. In plain terms, we can now put a white sofa into a family room with 5 kids! Yes, Crypton is a stain repellent, but they have patterns and velvets and so many luscious fabrics that you would never think are performance fabric.


So, now that we’re free from the performance restraints on our inspirational fabric, let’s talk about where to go to find pieces that will work with your design. I start by checking out the new fabric releases that will be in High Point. Then, I pull together some objects that create the feeling I want for the space, and contemplate which showrooms will have the pieces for my perfect design.


Finding the Right Showrooms at High Point

I have a few go-to showrooms at Market, depending on the look I want to create. For New England country, I absolutely must go to Thibaut. They have truly mastered the layering of patterns in a way that still looks clean. Their newest Crypton collection, Reverie (which you will absolutely love on furniture), is designed to make a home feel quiet and calm with a sophisticated palette that says, “New England.” However, they are not afraid of color, and will show you how to create a multi-hued palette that is elegant and refined!


Are you BOHO/Urban/Cali-Modern inspired? Then you absolutely need to check out Cisco Brothers. First, their story is inspiring – and they have the whole green thing down – but they’re also great for performance and style. Being totally committed to sustainability, they did tons of research before selecting Crypton as their performance fabric source. Check out the Lush line on their beautiful pieces of furniture.

Cisco Brothers

Are you creating a Coastal-inspired look? Universal Furniture is a must-see. They just partnered with Coastal Living to create a new collection, released at Fall 2018 Market. This collection is filled with linen looks, and you can see yourself walking in with sandy feet and happy dogs while sipping sweet tea – with no worries about that white linen sofa, because it is Crypton!

Universal Furniture

Universal Furniture

Are you creating a classic design? For this I think you need to go to one of the originals, Kravet. They have been around for 100 years and they do it all. They are incorporating Crypton into their lines, they partner with some amazing celebrity designers, they know when to move from modern to traditional, and you can find fabrics, upholstery, casegoods, and carpets all in one location. And, as you now know, each collection is inspired by that fabulous archive. So, whether you are looking for soft and pastel, redesigned animal prints, or mid century modern, Kravet is a must in your High Point Market trip.


There are so many more showrooms that you just must see at Market. Don’t miss the Antique Diva collection at Aidan Gray. Be sure to wander through the Antique & Design Center, where you’ll find so many beautiful vintage furnishings, carpets, and jewelry. Modern History presents some of the most amazing paintings you will ever see. Plus, there are the fantastic staples like Stanley Furniture, Lexington, and Currey & Company. One of my favorite places, Sarreid Limited, encompasses current styles, combines fabrics and leathers, and hand-makes pieces in England and Italy. Their vast selection of unique, well made pieces help me fill in and create so many wonderful looks! Check out this gorgeous dining room that never would have come together without Sarreid and their Jupe tables!


Don’t forget to stop at Surya for amazing carpets, accessories, and lighting. They introduce about 1,000 new pieces every Market so they are always staying on trend, and will have all of the right finishing touches for your design.

Why High Point Market is So Important to Great Design

This is the one place where you can see, feel, sit in, and learn about all of the new trends and products, plus get a full course of educational seminars. I know it can be intimidating and overwhelming, if you have never been before, but it is also exciting, inspiring, and exhilarating to see where the design industry is going, discover how to better help your clients, and find great new information to bring back to your clients and team. If you want to get your first visit off to a great start, come spend a day with me or another Market veteran on the Insider’s Tour.

Nowhere else do you get to bond with others in the industry, learn how to be better at your craft, and be inspired. It is the one place that you can find everything you need - I can’t wait to see you in High Point!