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Inside the Walls of Kravet Design Studios

A few weeks ago I was privileged to partake in a tour of the Kravet design studios in New York City, where they create fabrics, carpets and more.  As part of BlogFest 2012, we got to meet the designers, talk process and learn just what goes into creating some of the beautiful things us designers bring to our clients.  The process is really quite amazing. I hesitated on the title because “Kravet” encompasses so many companies.  There are carpets, wallcovering, trimmings and furnishings plus the different companies and divisions which have their hand in each.   Kravet includes Lee Jofa and Brunschwig & Fils and all their designer offshoots.   The process of creating a fabric start to finish, the different colorways, determining the ground (linen, cotton, printed, woven, etc.) and evolving into a complete collection of multiple fabrics is remarkable.  It all starts with inspiration. Do they use computers in the design process?  Yes. Does anyone still paint or hand color the designs?  Yes, although not for each fabric. What about digital printing on fabrics?  Digital printing has gotten very sophisticated and can offer an almost exact replica of the traditional block printing, and fortunately much more cost effective. On the left is the original block printed fabric from the Kravet archives and on the right is the new digital version – indistinguishable.  Where this is really beneficial is for commercial fabrics where a project calls for yards and yards of a particular design or when a custom fabric is required which may or may not depend on yardage. So, is block printing dead?  No, not at all.  Block printing is labor intensive as many hand carved blocks can be involved for a single pattern and colors are applied one at time. Print, dry, next color – over and over until the fabric is finished which can be arduous when 20 or more colors are involved.  While this can result in an expensive fabric per yard, the results are a glorious mottled effect where perfection is the imperfections inherent in a handmade product. How is this for eye candy overload? Inspired to decorate with a vengeance.

What these photos are not able to illustrate is the enchanting family atmosphere at Kravet.  They are still owned and controlled by the Kravet family who has been a beacon of hope to companies such as Brunschwig & Fils who they recently rescued and brought back from a questionable existence. Full of experience and exuberance, there are those who have been with the company for 20 or more years and some only in the single digits.  It was an absolute pleasure meeting each and every one of them and hearing them speak on their tasks with genuine enthusiasm.

The Kravet fabrics and other products are available only through architects and interior designers.  Contact me if you see something you’d like in your home. 🙂

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