I spent some time in the Donghia showroom in the Merchandise Mart lately and one of the things that I noticed was that most of the upholstery was done in velvet. Ahh, velvet. It’s one of the most luxurious fabrics and can be one of the most durable as well. Surprised??
Velvet is made differently than most fabrics. Do you remember latch-hook rugs? It’s sort of similar to that. You actually have two pieces of fabric that face each other, and then the velvet fiber gets punched through the fabric. The velvet nap is now between the two pieces of fabric, sort of like a sandwich filling. Once the fabric is finished, a knife blade separates the top and bottom halves and you have the beautiful velvet nap!
As I’ve said there are many types of velvets; cotton velvets, velveteens (short nap velvets), mohair velvets (my favorite), acrylic velvets, rayon velvets (shiny and silk-like) and silk velvets (oooh, very plush with a gorgeous sheen). What makes velvets durable is the fact that they are tightly woven and the more dense the nap, the more durable the fabric. The type of fiber used in the velvet also influences the durability. One of the most durable velvets is Mohair. It’s plush and dense, and is made from the hair of the Angora Goat. I love it because it takes dyes beautifully, has a fabulous feel, and because of the natural oils in the hair, it’s naturally stain resistant. There’s also nothing better for a really plush, regal look and feel.
Many people think velvet can only be done on a traditional style piece, but clearly the Donghia showroom proved that notion to be incorrect. Most of the styles in the showroom would be considered transitional to contemporary. People will also shy away from using velvet because they don’t like it’s characteristic of reflecting light differently depending upon which way the nap is running. So if you look at your sofa, you’ll see darker and lighter colors, but that’s just because of the way the light is hitting the nap. One way it looks light and the other way it looks dark. If you love velvet, you understand and embrace its depth and sumptuousness.
I looked up velvet on Wikipedia and found that it was made in Kashmir around the beginning of the 14th Century, although mohair was known in England as early as the 8th Century and was associated with nobility. Cool, huh?
What do you think? Do you love it or hate it? Why?