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The 5 home textiles you didn’t know you needed

Textiles are a vital part of any home’s design. They can be used to add pops of color to liven up monochromatic or neutral-heavy spaces, they add moments of texture that can deepen the visual impact of a room and, perhaps most importantly, pillows, throw blankets, and rugs add to the comfort of a space. There are a lot of reasons to appreciate textiles, but the one we think of least is often their ability to be the storytellers of a room. Hidden in the patterns of many textiles is a rich cultural history that speaks of far-flung places, great civilizations, and the meeting and evolution of cultures over time. Combining these pieces in your home, whether as upholstery, pillows, blankets, rugs or drapery, is sure to add layers of beauty to your space while giving you an elegant and sophisticated way to add a cultural touch to your home. Here are five amazing, must-have textiles that will help you tell your own personal story at home.

Photo Credit: Ben Sottak (bensottak.com)

1. Hmong

Hmong fabrics are fast gaining in popularity due to their bright colors, stunning geometric patterns, and unique and complex embroidery style. As pillows they add a beautiful pop of color to any room. Their history extends from the Hmong people, who originated in the area of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers around 4000 BC in China. In addition to being thought to have been some of the first people to cultivate rice in Asia, the Hmong are known for their special approach to embroidery known as Paj Ntaub, or “flower cloth.” Dispersed from China beginning in the late 1700s after centuries of oppression, the Hmong spread to various areas in Southeast Asia, taking their crafts with them. Their complex floral pieces are a bright addition to any room.

Photo Credit: Ben Sottak (bensottak.com)

2. Ndop

Ndop fabric hails from the Cameroon—an intricate form of resist dyeing similar to tie-die or Japanese shibori. Created by the Bamileke people, Ndop fabric features a dazzling combination of lines, dots and geometrics, often layered together multiple times. Bamileke culture is also responsible for such design crazes as the Tyn, more commonly known as a Juju hat. Like the Juju hat, Ndop fabric has inspired modern designers to create new variations. This bench is upholstered with a modern version of Ndop (aphrochic.com/product/ndop-fabric) cloth. It’s strong geometrics and the layering of several patterns brings a strong burst of character into this dining area.

Photo Credit: Patrick Cline (patrickclinephotography.com)

3. Ikat

Ikat is another form of resist dyeing, and one of the oldest and most widespread techniques in existence. There are many areas in Asia where Ikat may have originated. The word itself is Indonesian, meaning “tie,” though some of the earliest known examples are found in India. China and Japan are also known to have developed Ikat dyeing methods, as have Madagascar, Peru, and other early South American locations. The method was introduced to Europe from Indonesia in the early 20th century by the Dutch. With such global diversity of the cultures that have produced Ikat fabrics, it’s no wonder that the method is used to create such a multitude of different pattern types. Florals, stripes, abstract patterns, and pastoral scenes are all common motifs for Ikat patterns. Because of this, Ikat patterns are a popular choice for pillows and upholstery that’s meant to make a statement.

Photo Credit: Patrick Cline (patrickclinephotography.com)

4. Dutch African wax prints

While the Dutch spread Ikat to Europe from their colonies in Indonesia, these same traders are responsible for the introduction of wax print—Indonesian batik dyeing—to West Africa. Today, Dutch African wax prints are incredibly popular in fashion, providing the color and pattern for many sought after pieces. These fabulous prints are also making their mark in home decor as well. The swirling pattern seen on this chair from Enitan Vintage (enitanvintage.com) is just one of a countless variety of patterns that African wax prints boast. Each pattern is unique, possessing its own name and story. Wax print upholstery is an amazing way to bring new life to old furniture pieces. The dazzling patterns and bold colors are sure to turn any sofa or chair into the star of a room.

Photo Credit: Chinasa Cooper (chinasacooper.com)

5. Boucherouite

Boucherouite is a relatively new technique developed by the Berber people of Morocco. Berber women developed a new approach in the mid-20th century, one that made use of the materials at hand, including old clothes and damaged rugs. The result is a strip-weaving process that has been praised by more than one scholar for its abstract quality and artistic sophistication. The growing attraction of boucherouite rugs among today’s decorators and interior designers have led to the development of boucherouite-upholstered seating and small accessories like pillows. For all things boucherouite, their vibrant, abstract feel is a perfect way to add interest to a space, tie together a color palette or add a new layer of texture to any room.

Photo Credit: Ben Sottak (bensottak.com)