April 1, 2012
The pattern-shifting Illusion textile is designed to make an impression.
Illusion is woven with acrylic yarns, but the effect can be replicated with other materials as well.
The visual effect is a result of the weave structure and the yarn. The fabric is weatherproof; variants with qualities like higher resistance to abrasion
are being developed.
The textile is designed for public spaces and hospitality settings, and can be used outdoors. Custom fabrics for walls, panels, and health-care applications are in the works.
For several years, the designers at Carnegie have tried one idea after another to create a memorable fabric that would actively engage their clients. They tried weaving in LEDs (“We couldn’t wrap our heads around that”). They played with color-changing, heat-sensitive yarns (“You need really hot hands”). Ultimately, it was an old-fashioned piece of shot taffeta silk that sparked a breakthrough.
Shot silk is woven from two or more colors to produce an iridescent effect. “When you move it from side to side, the color changes,” explains Mary Holt, an executive vice president of Carnegie’s creative team. “Then one member of the team said, ‘What if the pattern changed?’ And that led us to playing with hologram cards.” It took two years of working with a technical team in Europe to figure out how to recreate that effect in the new Illusion textile—an upholstery fabric with a grid pattern that magically transforms into a bold floral motif as you walk past it.
Weaving two layers of pattern and color together turned out to be trickier than the designers expected. “It took quite a while for us to get to something that we felt was successful,” Holt says. “As we were develping the fabric, we learned things.” For example, familiar motifs work better than abstract ones, and subtle hues actually make the illusion more dramatic. The final textile has been developed with acrylic yarn, which makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. “We felt like you needed space to move around the fabric to make it successful,” Holt says. “We want people to say, ‘Oh, remember that cool place where the fabric changed when you walked around it?’ This is a fabric that really makes a statement.”