• U.S.

Felt As Furnishings

2 minute read
Belinda Luscombe

HOW IT STARTED Many designers say they were inspired by the 20th century German artist Joseph Beuys, who used felt widely in his works

JUDGMENT CALL Soft, muted, recycled: it sure beats fiberglass

The best and most beautiful things in the world,” Helen Keller is reputed to have said, “cannot be seen or touched, but are felt…” She wasn’t talking about the material, but as far as designers are concerned, she might have been. Humble old felt has been popping up in some unusual places, in clothes and furniture and even as table settings and vases.

Designers like that it’s robust enough to hold a shape but flexible enough for some acrobatics. And because felt is not woven, the edges don’t fray, so a soft object can have a very sharp profile.

Now, as more industrial materials find their way into our homes, worker-drone felt, the gray stuff used in refrigerator engines and as gaskets, has moved in too. The Feltup chair, from Minneapolis, Minn., designers Blu-Dot, uses felt made from recycled sweaters and socks for its slinglike seat. Furniture-design team Burning Relic makes a table with a 1-in.-thick slab of felt. British designer Anne Kyyro uses felt on blinds and lampshades.

“We’re flabbergasted,” says Joe Lincourt, vice president of technical sales at U.S. Felt, whose product is used mostly on electric motors. “All of a sudden we’re getting calls from architects and designers about throw rugs and wall coverings.”

–By Belinda Luscombe

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