Vertical racing stripes a winner for upholstery

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

HIGH POINT, N.C. — Upholstery is getting racy. At the spring Furniture Market, vertical stripes commonly associated with classic speedsters made the jump from the racetrack to chairs and sofas. In contrasting textiles or tapes, the winning result is fabric-on-fabric vibrance.

CR Laine showed the high-back Copley chair with a big broad stripe running up the back and down the center of the seat.

"When I first saw this ‘racing stripe’ treatment in the CR Laine showroom in 2013, it struck me as a fresh, new way of accenting upholstery," recalls Pat Bowling, vice president communications of the American Home Furnishings Alliance. "I had never seen a contrasting fabric used in quite that manner before."

The look gained traction the following market and went full throttle this year.

"I believe we were one of the first, if not the first, upholstery manufacturer to lead the way into this ‘deconstructed fabric’ color-blocking trend by presenting fabrics seamed together in an askew manner to create their own bold personality," says Holly Blalock, CR Laine’s vice president of merchandise and marketing.

She was inspired by the spring 2013 "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She began wondering what fabric applications would look like if the textile was ripped apart and reassembled. The black-and-white Aledo chairs were the result.

"Look for an updated version of this type of blocking in our fall 2015 High Point Market collection," she says.

Things took off from there. Following that successful experiment, Blalock used a strip of Sunbrella fabric as a stripe, not trim, in October 2013.

"She continued to advance the look in 2014," notes Bowling.

"The racing stripe becomes the piece that unifies a design," explains Blalock. "When a customer is looking for the perfect fabric to pull together, let’s say a mint green chair and a blue sectional, why not create your own textile by asking our crafters to assemble elements from two solids into one bold stripe?"

The result of that combination is the new Tobi Fairley for CR Laine Collection,

Changing things up using a narrow version of the same idea was Wesley Hall and Century furniture with the Gavin side chair.

"The vertical banding in the decorative tape adds the ideal touch of modern that transforms an otherwise classic silhouette into something fresh and today," says Zack Taylor, president of Wesley Hall.

Ambella Home went in another direction with its boxed trimmed seat and back on the Palm Beach chair. Designer Mary McDonald used a sophisticated double racing stripe on her sofa for Chaddock.

Also going a little wild with the idea of fabric strips as stripes was Norwalk, which used bands of fabric on the arms and seat of the Belle sofa.

The variations on this theme are endless. Expect to see more imaginative use of multiple textiles in upholstered goods of the future.

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