How textiles have become the artisan product of the moment and which lines to check out.
When Fawn Galli, an interior designer, needed drapery for her floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Central Park, no ordinary fabric would do.
Plain silk, damasks and traditional florals all lacked the sense of freshness she desired. Instead, she chose something that seemed to be brimming with life: fabric with a washed-out kaleidoscopic pattern by a small Brooklyn company called Eskayel.
“It’s dreamy, punchy and fun,” Galli says, noting that Eskayel’s collection has a “kind of refined hippie vibe.”
It also offered something unexpected. “I love that they’re in Brooklyn and have a point of view,” she says, “not a big company doing the same designs we’ve seen for hundreds of years.”
Galli is far from alone. If screen-printed wallpaper enjoyed a revival in the aughts, and handmade ceramics were hot the last few years, the artisanal product of the moment seems to be fabric made in small quantities by upstart textile boutiques.
Wares include pillows, throws and bolts of fabric with gauzy washes of color, patterns that look as though they’ve been painted by hand, stylized tribal motifs and other designs that share a purposely imperfect, bohemian quality.
The rise of these boutique textile companies is being propelled by two seemingly opposite trends: the current obsession with products that communicate a sense of handmade authenticity, and digital innovations that make producing and selling textiles in limited quantities easier.
Four years ago, Rebecca Atwood, a painter and former product designer for Anthropologie, began her namesake textile company by dyeing shibori fabric in her Brooklyn kitchen.
“I hand-painted, printed and dyed the first 60 pillows myself, in my apartment,” Atwood says. “I was washing silk-screens in my shower and had pillow inserts in the bedroom.”
But after selling out in two months, with only a web store and some recognition from blogs and social media, she expanded.
Today, Atwood has a couple of employees and produces an extensive range of home fabrics that are dyed, digitally printed, screen-printed, woven or embroidered, with patterns resembling free-form painted brush strokes, naively rendered flower blossoms, artfully splattered ink and grids of scribbled pencil.
Caroline Z. Hurley stumbled into the business when friends demanded block-printed textiles she originally made for art projects.
“There’s a real textile trend right now,” says Hurley, who offers graphic throws, pillows and napkins block-printed by artisans in Massachusetts. “People are bringing a fine-arts or funkier spin to it.”
None of these companies could flourish if it weren’t for designers and customers seeking unique fabrics.
“I just wanted to do something wonky, weird and minimal,” says Brook Perdigon, who started her company in Los Angeles in 2015; it prints patterned textiles with screens she cuts by hand. “It totally worked, and people are digging it.”