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Heimtextil: Sustainable textiles once again on the advance

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New designs and innovative functions were on show across all product groups at Heimtextil 2012 in Frankfurt am Main. From 11 to 14 January 2012, 2,634 exhibitors from all corners of the globe showcased the materials, colours, patterns and shapes that will dominate the fashions for the coming season.

The international trade fair for home and contract textiles presented an impressive spectrum of floor coverings, decorative and furnishing fabrics, blinds and sunshades, as well as wallpapers and wall coverings of all kinds. Equally, the latest trends in bathroom fabrics and, indeed, for bed and table linen were on display. Once again it is the sustainably manufactured products that are on the advance at Heimtextil where they attracted particular admiration.

They were first to be seen in clothing fashions, now they have found their way into the home: colours such as plum, lime, raspberry red, aubergine or a pithy green are in frequent use for home textiles. Green was definitely the up-and-coming colour at Heimtextil, often combined with aqua, maize, beige or curry tones.

The more elegant the fabric, the darker the colours, which are then, however, brightened up with subtle lustres to the material or with interwoven special-effect threads and, as a result, shimmer discreetly.

Natural colour combinations such as brown, greige and beige or contrasts such as black and white are used mostly for fabrics with bold, clear patterns. Weave structure is more sophisticated than it has ever been. Decorative ribbing, embroidery, crushed finishes, ornaments, pleats, interwoven decorative yarns or tiny ribbons give materials greater definition. It is particularly fabrics with a uniform colour, or tone-in-tone patterning that make a stronger impression with their structured relief, without appearing to dominate the visual effect of the room.

The pattern palette for fabrics ranges from floral decoration and stripes of all sorts and kinds of width to huge blossoms and geometrical designs (up to 30 centimetres wide). Decoration is, however, on the whole, more delicate and the colour combinations more conservative than in previous years. Various natural and synthetic yarns are often mixed in subtle and sophisticated ways to achieve particular optical effects.

Colourfully transparent and translucent fabrics are also making a more fashion-conscious impression. So that, for instance, voiles, which were once only available in white and beige, are now offered in a wide range of colours.

These finely woven materials are often given additional decoration with interwoven lurex yarns, embroidery, crystalline stones or sequins. Burn-outs, whose see-through decorative patterns are achieved by chemically dissolving parts of the weave, were considered to be amongst the most up-and-coming products at Heimtextil. Often, there are patterns with alternating matt and glossy effects. When it comes to upholstery fabrics, there were many monochrome-like patterns on show at Heimtextil.
It was particularly in this group that various fibres had been skilfully mixed with a view largely to practicability and hard-wearing qualities. Many upholstery fabrics have traditional patterns that appear hand-made. Thanks to their strong colourways, they nevertheless create a thoroughly contemporary effect. Well on the way up is faux leather in hundreds of different colours. Either as an imitation of genuine leather, or with striking modern designs.

Sun-blind systems are now being offered in an almost infinite range of colours, materials and combinations; plain and patterned, from translucent to blackout. One thing that turned out to be particularly promising at Heimtextil was the double blind, composed of see-through and non-see-through stripes - making it possible to adjust the amount of shade and privacy very precisely. Blinds can now just as easily be fitted to the window casement, too. The new-style venetian blinds can be pushed up and down to varying extents in front of the window.

Home textiles, too — textiles for the bathroom, for bedrooms and for table decoration — come in fashionable colours, such as aubergine, fuchsia, turquoise and grey. When it comes to bed linen, large single blossoms are a popular motif, whilst small patterns or floral decoration spread across bed covers as an all-over design. Colourways for terry-towelling are much more extensive than ever before.

Patterns tend to be broad surfaces of colour, with a preponderance of stripes and checks. Heimtextil turned up a new trend: lighter and shorter bath robes for the traveller's suitcase. Linen is more frequently used for table cloths, sets and napkins than it was before — either in its natural colour or dyed. Table cloths are often accompanied by matching chair-cushion covers and aprons.

Ecological awareness and responsible activities are increasingly being demanded by consumers. More and more, manufacturers are catering to this demand. With the free publication of the Green Directory, Heimtextil supports those manufacturers who operate sustainably and sets them apart from the broad range of other producers. By using the lists in the directory and the signs on the relevant exhibitors' stands, visitors to the trade fair were able to distinguish those manufacturers whose products stand out because of their high ecological quality or the sustainable ways in which they are produced.
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