October 16, 2012

Fast Take with Dorothy Cosonas at Knoll Luxe

From top: Aranya, Abington (a cotton-polyester upholstery), and Zimba.

From top: Aranya, Abington (a cotton-polyester upholstery), and Zimba.

Last week at New York’s D&D Building,

Knoll Luxe

revealed its latest fabrics – Aranya, Abington, and Zimba – during an afternoon launch with Dorothy Cosonas, creative director of both


and Knoll Luxe. We were granted an exclusive one-on-one with Cosonas to find out how new technologies and materials impact residential fabrics (do they?), and we even got a few hints about the company’s Spring 2013 collaboration with a top-secret fashion designer.

Interior Design

: What was the inspiration for the Fall 2012 introductions?

Dorothy Cosonas: Partly it was based on filling in gaps in the foundation at Knoll Luxe. A few years ago, someone approach me and asked me why we didn’t have a houndstooth. So we introduced Zimba, which is based on a pattern, York, from the 1950s, but this one has more texture, is softer, and has a rich brown and cream that works so well in residential interiors.

ID: When coming up with collections, do you look more at what’s happening internally at KnollLuxe, or is it more geared to addressing what’s happening externally in the market?

DC: It’s definitely a combination of both, ying and yang. At Knoll Luxe, especially in competing with all the other companies in this building, people look to us to define what’s next, so there’s pressure. We’re always looking to evolve and tap into what’s on the horizon.

ID: And is that often driven by technology and new materials?

DC: At KnollLuxe, not as much. For example, if I made an upholstery in 100 percent polyester, I’d definitely get some looks. In residential interiors, people really want warmth and softness and a feeling of luxury. More often than not, this happens with wool, silk, and cotton. The innovation comes in with what we’re able to do with smaller mills in terms of developing custom patterns and smaller batches. It’s also in the aesthetics. Sometimes, there are finishes that are new materials, but often we go back to the foundational fibers.

From top: Aranya, Abington (a cotton-polyester upholstery), and Zimba.

From top: Aranya, Abington (a cotton-polyester upholstery), and Zimba.

ID: Is it challenging to find new angles?

DC: Since Knoll is over 60 years old, coming up with new names is a challenge, since of course we can’t repeat anything. So now we ask designers that we work with what words are significant to them, and draw from those. For this introduction, we played off geography. Zimba is the name of a mountain in Austria, where we produced that pattern. Abington is a suburb of Philadelphia, and that pattern was produced in Pennsylvania. The curtain fabric, Aranya, was made in India.

ID: What else is special about these fabrics?

Abington was produced using 10 different yarns, so you really get a depth of color and texture, but it’s subtle and reserved in a great way that it still provides a foundation in residential interiors that we didn’t have before. It’s a tri-color warp. The bold leaf pattern of Aranya is the most trends driven of the three, in terms of the graphics, the nature theme, and the shapes, and the colors offered.

ID: Do you prefer working with the older materials?

DC: Yes. Definitely. Did I answer too quickly? They are so much more luxurious, I love the feel of them. I enjoy being able to create custom designs, too. Otherwise, the big names – Maharam, Designtex, us, for example – we’re all using the same six mills or so. It’s nice to be able to find smaller niche mills when I’m working with KnollLuxe. For example, the one in Pennsylvania is rare – most of our mills are in Europe or India.

ID: Can you give us any hints about the Spring 2013 fashion-inspired collection (previous collections were with Rodarte and Proenza Schouler)?

DC: This fashion designer works with bold graphics, and almost has tribal, raw influences… I hope I didn’t give too much away!

Aranya drapery fabric in linen, rayon, and cotton.

Aranya drapery fabric in linen, rayon, and cotton.

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