February 12, 2019
Knoll Luxe’s New Fashion-Inspired Textile Line Pushes the Limits of Manufacturing
One upholstery textile in the collection, All Star, is an homage to the spattered-paint look that’s cropping up in recent designs by high-fashion houses Maison Margiela and Gucci.
Dorothy Cosonas, KnollTextiles’ creative director, is a professed fashion fanatic. When she launched the Knoll Luxe line of premium residential and contract textiles in 2008, Cosonas envisioned the collection as a way to bring the colors, patterns, and textures of haute couture and ready-to-wear styles to an interior setting. A decade on, Knoll Luxe has released 12 collections, including collaborations with fashion heavyweights Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, Suno, and Maria Cornejo. But beyond offering an edgier interpretation of its parent brand’s classic Modernism, the line has proved to be a laboratory for creative experimentation. Take, for example, Cosonas’s most recent Knoll Luxe collection, launched this past November, in which each of four upholstery textiles and two drapery fabrics push the limits of manufacturing and materials.
Among them is All Star, an upholstery fabric and homage to the spattered-paint look Cosonas saw cropping up in recent designs by high-fashion houses Maison Margiela and Gucci. The textile features flecks of metallic pigment against a solid ground—more dusty filmstrip than drippy Jackson Pollock. To obtain All Star’s delicate speckle, the piece-dyed linen-blend ground endures two passes beneath high-pressure pigment-spraying jets. This method of randomized paint application yields patterns that never repeat, meaning no two yards of All Star are alike.
Prince Hairy, an upholstery textile, also has roots in the runway, with a touchable, fuzzy nap that nods to the recent resurgence of fur in designs by Prada and Givenchy. Its bright pattern is jacquard woven with a bouclé weft of wool, alpaca, mohair, and fine nylon. The textile undergoes a proprietary treatment at a French finishing house—the same one used by Europe’s leading fashion brands—where its distinctive coif is coaxed from the weave over several days. After the textile is washed and dried, a machine brushes and combs the fibers, raising the dimensional fuzz that helps soften the geometric grid pattern beneath.
Drapery fabrics that look to apparel for inspiration give the term “window dressing” new meaning. Petite Fringe, one such offering in the Luxe line, employs both handicraft and mechanized technology to achieve its blend of line and texture. Bundles of yarn in complementary tones are cut manually, then affixed in vertical intervals to the polyester solid ground with a hand-guided embroidery machine. To finish, workers groom each loose fringe with a toothbrush-size comb before shipment.
While translating ideas from the catwalk demands a keen eye for fashion, equally important to Cosonas are strong relationships with mills, manufacturers, and finishers with the expertise and tools to make the vision a reality. And in fact, Knoll Luxe often turns to producers specializing in apparel and fashion, rather than contract textiles. “Everything about the product”—which can take 12 to 16 months to develop—“is customized and hands-on,” she says. “It’s a marriage between Knoll design and mill execution.”
Knoll Luxe’s creative risks, as well as its forays into new materials and manufacturing techniques, can bear out innovations that wind up in other Knoll products, too: Last January, the company released Arrondissement, the first textile in its standard line to feature embroidery. Following Luxe’s lead, KnollTextiles is also incorporating wools, silks, and other natural fibers with greater frequency.
“I’ve always leaned into fashion,” Cosonas confesses. “I’ve studied it almost too much.”
It’s this passion for the sartorial that establishes the vision—and the challenge— for each Knoll Luxe collection, and drives the innovation that, Cosonas believes, “puts KnollTextiles, and Knoll Luxe, in a position where someone stands up and takes notice.”
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