Take a moment to let that photo wash over you and inspire thoughts of warm spring breezes and blossoming trees and sunshine. I came upon this scene at the Heimtextil fair in Frankfurt recently. It took every bit of will power I could muster to resist the urge to flop right into this pillow pile. Do you know Heimtextil? The quick 411 is that it is a massive international trade show for home and contract (aka hospitality and commercial) textiles. More than 69,000 people attended this year's show, which featured more than 2,800 exhibitors from all over the globe. Lucky me that I was invited to be among the 69,000! I have more than 700 photos from the trip and as promised in my previous post, I will upload many onto my Textiles to Love Pinterest board. Meanwhile, this post is devoted to the top tech trends I spotted at the show.
1. DIGITAL PRINTING This is by far the biggest news happening in textile production. "Over the next five years we expect a growth of 25% per year in market share of goods produced with digital printing." says Thimo Schwenzfeier, director of marketing communications for the show. So what's the deal with digital printing? Well, it's just like printing from your home computer -- except on a HUGE scale and using almost any type of paper product to make wallpaper and almost any type of fibre to make printed fabrics. The ones in the photo above area all digital prints from the Spanish firm Castilla Textil.
Here's what one of the larger digital printers looks like. I think this one is by Xeikon, but more familiar names like Epson, HP and more were also represented.
Here's a guy changing the paper in one of these babies, which will then print some loveliness for the walls by the Swedish company Rebel Walls.
And here's what the glorious finished product looks like - Bellewood by Rebel Walls. The design advantages of digital are that the finished product can look remarkably hand painted or illustrated with the quirks and "flaws" of the human hand, or, conversely, it can produce an exact replica of something in photographic form.
Here's a pretty sheer fabric featuring a digital photographic print. A modern take on the classic botanical from Gözze of Germany.
And here is the opposite -- watercolours by Fi Douglas of Bluebellgray that are then printed digitally. When you see this stuff in person (which you can at any Hudson's Bay store in Canada) you do feel compelled to touch the fabric because you could swear there's paint on it.
2. LED LIGHTING. Yes, that's right LIGHTS!! When I first saw this duvet cover I thought there were mirrors at the centre of all of those embroidered constellations. You know, as you see in some Indian textiles. I had to get closer to see how they were catching the light. It was only when I got closer that I realized I was actually looking at little tiny lights.
In-freaking-credible! And yes, you can wash this duvet cover. And no, it doesn't plug in -- works on an independent battery system. The Swiss superstars at Schlossberg handled this design beautifully. The effect was magical and ethereal. However, I fear for our future when this technology comes down in price and gets into the wrong design hands. The mind reels.
3. 3D FABRIC (AND MICROCAPSULES). What you are looking at above is a super magnified cross section of the SmartSleeve, a textile developed for mattress and pillow protectors. To the eye, the fabric looks a bit like a very finely quilted fabric, but when you press down on it you immediately get that is is springy, or has "air" in it. Why is this a big deal? Well, because the fabric is dimensional is holds your body just a teensy bit away from the mattress and the air that circulates below helps regulate your body temperature, improves your comfort and extends the life of your mattress, since it doesn't get broken down from the moisture in your perspiration.
The microcapsule technology option makes this product even better. You can choose the Relax version, which includes teeny tiny capsules of lavender essence, which are released from the pressure and friction of your body on the fabric -- Ah-mazing! (and yes, the capsules close when you get up and re-release the next night and the night after that etc etc). The company also makes a eucalyptus version, which is a great for your sinuses and as a mosquito repellant. Other versions of this mattress protector include a waterproof one, an allergen eliminator and one for cribs. The cover comes in that handy container above and comes with a travel bag. While I can't imagine taking my own mattress pad when I hit the road, I get the feeling that if you start sleeping one of these you might never want to give it up.
PS. One of the textile experts I talked to at the show says this microcapsule technology may soon be added to skinny jeans to release moisturizing lotion!
4. THINDOWN. This is the world's first down fabric. Buh bye puffy coats! Good riddance unflattering Michelin Man style channels stuffed with down. This is fabric that can be cut and sewn and covered and tailored. For home applications this could revolutionize how we make our beds.
All hail the return of the bedspread -- but this time the skinny, light-as-air but oh-so-cosy down bedspread. Here's one above. It could use some design work but I did touch it and lift it up and OH MY it was truly lighter than a feather.
I've got a ton more to show and tell you about this show. Stay tuned on all my channels for the juicy trend news, styling ideas to steal and more.