Sunday, June 22, 2008

Latest and greatest fabrics from Robert Allen

It’s always good to keep up with what’s new and exciting in the design and decorating world. Recently we were invited to a yummy luncheon presentation hosted by International Design Sources in the Gentry Pacific Design Center. I’ve relied on IDS’s huge array of amazing fabrics for years and gotten to know Joyce Yuson, who used to work in the office and has recently taken over the helm. I’m so proud of her and wanted to be there to support her. I know IDS is in great hands.

The event was a presentation on what’s happening at Robert Allen’s residential and contract lines. Robert Duban is vice president of Robert Allen Contract, a major provider of coordinated fabrics and finishes to hospitality, health care and corporate customers. He’s passionate about what he does and is just as friendly as can be. His wife is also an interior designer, and his daughter is in design school—I guess that passion just runs in the family!

I was blown away by what they are able to do. They have beautiful patterns and designs and fabrics that can be used in not only hotels, hospitals and model homes, where you need textiles that are extremely durable, but if you have a run of at least 30 to 100 yards, they can basically take any design you come up with and create a custom fabric.

They’re also able to knock off Beacon Hill, their exclusive high-end line of silks, jacquards and other exquisite fabrics that has been featured in all the top magazines. Whenever I’ve needed a special throw cushion or fabric, I’ve always been able to find something incredible at Beacon Hill. It can be quite expensive, ranging from approximately fifty to a few hundred dollars a yard. But they can now create the same look and design in a polyester that can go in a hotel or hospital. So gone are the days of boring prints where you’re paying less and it looks like it. You can take what you see on the cover of Architectural Digest and create that same fantastic designer look in the contract line for a fraction of the price.

What was really fun was when Robert showed us some prints that they’re in the process of selecting. Nobody has seen them yet. With so many interior designers in the audience, he was asking for our opinions, is this too big, is the scale too small? I can’t wait to see if what we voted on is going to come out in their next collection.

And the latest and hottest in fabrics? Robert did say stripes are big—literally big and bold. Contemporary is very hot, as we all know, as are vibrant colors. People are asking for velvet. There’s a lot of opulence and luxury, yet at the same time there’s an ongoing trend toward the natural and eco-friendly. Robert Allen even has a line called Pure Style, which is their first collection that’s designed to reduce environmental impact without sacrificing style.

The other thing I love is that they’ve just partnered with Larry Laslo, who has come out with four new books of incredible fabrics for them. Larry is an icon. He’s a New York designer who is known as much for his personality and flash as he is for his style. He’s designed exquisite spaces for Bergdorf Goodman in New York City and he’s been featured in every major magazine. He’s also known for his love of purple—he wears purple ties and even purple socks. The colors and designs in the books he’s created are timeless, stylish, yet cutting-edge.

So we had a great day, we got to catch up with Joyce, got to meet Robert, who is such a gentleman and a sweetheart, we had a great lunch, it was a fun day! We visited a few more places in the design center, and I found some other fabrics I fell in love with. I think I’ll do some shopping for myself—more about that later!