Blogging has taken a backseat to travel over the last few weeks. I was in Florida for an extended weekend to enjoy Mother's Day with my mom and oldest daughter. Then I was off to New York for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) and Blogfest 2013. I'll save the ICFF for a separate post (or maybe more than one, because the exhibitors at the ICFF were that good!), and concentrate here on Blogfest.
This was my second time attending Blogfest, a program sponsored by Kravet Inc. that brings interior design bloggers together with design industry professionals for a whirlwind tour of New York City showrooms, show houses, publishing houses and design studios. The agenda this year included a kick-off party at one of Jonathan Adler's retail stores, an exclusive visit to the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, sessions at the Hearst Tower with HGTV Magazine Editor-in-Chief Sara Richardson and famous designers, Thom Filicia and Alexa Hampton, cocktails at Newel Gallery, and the culminating event, the tour of the Kravet Inc. studios.
At Hearst with Lisa Kravet, VP of Kravet Inc. With Christy Davis
As a two-time attendee at Blogfest, I must say that my favorite part is the Kravet studio tour. This glimpse at the behind-the-scenes workings of a major textile house amazes me. The talent and labor that goes into producing textiles across three brands (Kravet, Lee Jofa and Brunschwig & Fils) with multiple product lines is enormous. I come away with a deep respect for the Kravet family, their management team and employees. Their dedication to their craft and their industry is inspiring.
At the start of the tour, I meet the managers who plan and merchandise the Kravet and Lee Jofa showrooms. The showrooms get a face lift at regular intervals so the merchandisers must decide what furnishings to feature and in what sequence to feature them. They do this on a macro scale (the whole showroom) and micro scale (how the fabrics are shown on wings in the showroom and in books). And they do this at least once a year for every showroom in the U.S. and Canada. No small task!
Merchandising fabrics for Kravet (left) and Lee Jofa (right)
One of my favorite parts of the tour is seeing how Kravet develops hospitality fabrics for a major hospitality/entertainment company (but I can't tell you which one!). This company re-styles its properties every four years, and Kravet often plays a part in the conception and production of its themed furnishings. From research to hand painting to digital printing and engraving, Kravet's team has a creative hand in the ultimate decor of these properties, and must turn around the designs in record time. Similarly, Kravet also produces fabrics for a major retailer known for its global bohemian style. The concepts for these fabrics originate with the company's designers, but Kravet's team tweaks the designs and makes the final product.
Recently, Kravet began developing and producing fabrics in the middle-price range for Ralph Lauren Home. The team that heads this division interprets Ralph Lauren lifestyle images to arrive at complementary fabrics. Here is an example of fabrics in development for an indigo line.
The tour continues with visits to the Kravet Carpet studio, contract fabric studio, trimmings studio and licensed collections studio. In trimmings, we get a peak at the Vintage Chic collection and the coordinating window treatment hardware. I love the wide braids -- they would be great on the leading edges of draperies, but I think they'd also be fabulous as edge bindings on natural fiber rugs.
Kravet's Vintage Chic Trim Collection
It's exciting to see what Kravet is doing with its licensed collections. It's releasing the second Calvin Klein collection with fabrics that complement the menswear-inspired palette of the first collection. We'll be seeing more color in this collection and fabrics that add a bit of glam. We also got a sneak peek at the collection Kravet is developing with Diane Von Furstenberg. Working with the DVF team, Kravet is taking some of Diane's signature prints and re-interpreting them for residential applications. These fabrics will be bold and colorful. Be prepared for a killer animal print!
A highlight of the licensed collections was seeing Aerin Lauder introduce her new textile collection. Aerin is the granddaughter of Estee Lauder, the founder and namesake of the cosmetics giant. After years in top executive positions at that company, Aerin has launched her own lifestyle brand and has just opened her first retail concept store in Southampton, New York. The licensed collection with Kravet includes fabrics and carpets and is inspired by the classic furnishings her grandmother loved.
A final treat was seeing the Brunschwig & Fils studio. Kravet acquired this prestigious fabric house two years ago, and it was a delight to see how this division has expanded within this time. All of Brunschwig's fabric patterns, including those that have been discontinued, are documented and archived in this studio. I loved seeing how its designers took a document from its archives and re-interpreted it for the new Le Jardin Chinois collection. In the picture below, at the top left is the original document. Below it is the modernized version. To the right is the artist rendering of the pattern in an exploded scale. This pattern was then produced as a print, on cotton and linen, and as an embroidery, on linen and on silk, shown in the picture below right.
River Song, Le Jardin Chinois Collection by Brunschwig & Fils
At the party at Newel, I observed Scott Kravet, 3rd generation principal of Kravet Inc., wandering the floors. (Newel is a six-story wonderland of antiques and fine art on Manhattan's east side.) At one point, I spied Scott holding an antique embroidered textile. Always on the hunt, always vigilant for a pattern to reference, Scott showed me why Kravet is a force among textile brands.