When Harry Paley and Ralph Saltzman decided to start a textiles company in 1961, they had no idea they would grow so quickly. In fact, they began with one product and one product only: Verel, a flame-retardant drapery fabric. By 1978, the company opened its first showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. Since then, the inquisitive nature of Designtex has led to their success as “leaders in unique design, fabric technology, environmental responsibility and service.”
Common Threads— The Common Threads Collection of handmade rugs minimizes environmental impact and empowers women. By partnering with Arzu, a non-profit organization that provides sustainable income to Afghan women by sourcing and selling the rugs they weave, Designtex offers beautiful rugs constructed with traditional Persian knot techniques using locally harvested, naturally dyed wool. The program ensures that Afghan women receive above market compensation, as well as access to education and healthcare. Arzu employs over 700 weavers in nine rural villages. The Common Threads rugs include Diversity, a horizontal stripe in neutrals and warm colors; Prosperity, an organic motif of sinuous strands and circular coins; and Unity, a contemporary pattern of symmetrical squares.
A collection of fabrics inspired by the work of master artists such as Escher and Hoffman, the Modern Perspective Collection celebrates diverse elements: structures, architecture, nature, and symmetry. “These artists, both with different views on design, somehow have a commonality in the ways they viewed function and complexity of pattern,” explains Kimberle Frost, Vice President of Design. Designs in this group include Guild 3418, picturing leaves reminiscent of the work of turn-of-the-century artists’ guilds; and Synthesis 3382, a high-performance Eco-Intelligent polyester with a Greenshield finish that presents a large-scale geometric pattern.
A collection of unique and artistic wallcoverings, Rinekwall began when artists John Rinek and Dana Agamalian met at a California art gallery. The two envisioned a wallcovering that looked like real barbed wire, which they accomplished by manipulating one of John’s photographs. Barbed Wire became the signature product of the Rinekwall collection, which now includes 58 designs. Wallcoverings such as Xeriscape, featuring desert succulents, and Moorish Metro, picturing linear ornamental tiles, make this group of wallcoverings diverse and eye-catching. Other products feature objects as different as flowers, candies, marbles, and nails.
As a company with a commitment to carbon neutral operations, Designtex began its efforts in 2007 by making internal reductions at its New York headquarters. From transitioning to virtual meetings in order to reduce travel to purchasing energy-efficient equipment, Designtex reached net zero in 2010. The company strives to offer a variety of environmentally responsible products, including textiles, rugs, and wallcoverings, focusing on the product life cycle and “creating opportunities for closing the loop.”