What’s that you say? You ask.
That’s right, out is in and in is out! What part of that don’t you get?
Ah…yes, there is a word or two missing in the title, and a thought or two as well.
Try this: What has been commonly used indoors, is now being used outdoors. Likewise, that which is commonly used outdoors, is finding its way indoors.
Okay? You say, yearning for more…
Fabrics! Its about the new outdoor fabrics, that’s what I’m talking about! The technology for outdoor textiles has moved light years ahead of where they were even two years ago. We’re seeing velvets being made of solution-dyed acrylic fibers, aka Sunbrella, aka outdoor fabric. You got it! Outdoor velvets.
And, try this one on for size: Embossed faux-alligator in a new outdoor leather collection. Not only does it come in the normal range of reptilian colors, its now available in metallic colors of gold-now referred to as dirty gold, silver-referred to as Smoke, copper-referred to as copper, and a hundred other variations of pastel and primary colors.
There are terrific outdoor suede’s with a realistic nap to the eye and the hand; and chenille’s that are so soft, they feels like your skinny dipping when you touch it. Dive in baby-these fabrics are here to stay!

Hey, these are outdoor fabrics! Uunbelievable that they are fade resistant, as well as mildew and mold resistant, and mostly dog-proof. When they’re soiled, simply zip the covers off the cushions and toss them in the wash, but do not put them in the dryer on a heat seating! In some instances, bleach can be used, but first check with the manufacturers cleaning recommendations.
These fabrics are so refined (now here comes the out-in/in-out part) that our clients are using these virtually indestructible fabrics in their family room, the media room, the breakfast room, and even in the kids rooms. I mean, can you imagine if your parents had used the old fashioned outdoor fabrics inside the home? Those original versions were as hard and scratchy as sandpaper; or worse, they were made of a non-breathable vinyl that made you sweat at first touch; and don’t forget how your sunburned legs would so easily stick to it. No, the old fabrics were not exactly of the skinny dipping variety. Praise the lawd!

Please note that there is a huge variety in the type of foams used in outdoor cushions, and the price varies wildly. I will incorporate more about this in tomorrows Design Guy.

Just two years ago, few design houses offered outdoor fabrics. Back then most of us shared a similar understanding of outdoor fabrics, mostly those under the Sunbrella brand name. The colors were mostly brights, but they offered some dull Hunter and Forest greens and browns to broaden their appeal. If you really wanted to put on the dog, you could order a solid color fabric and have the cushions piped in another color; you could even order stripes, if you dare! Woo hoo

Today, the venerable house of Donghia, headed by Angelo’s niece Sherry, offers some of the most sophisticated, and sumptuous woven outdoor fabrics, that you might rival a vintage tapestry in both workmanship and number of threads used in their production. The collection, aptly named Soleil, includes matching outdoor trims, tassels, and even Cabana drapery tie-backs. There are outdoor velvets; fabrics that look like woven African bark; fabrics that look straight of an old loom, as well as printed fabrics. After the death of her cousin, Angelo Donghia, Sherry hasn’t lived on the lofty laurels of the company. She has moved the firm into the enviable position of being an industry leader in the development of outdoor textiles, whereas many of the other fabric houses have merely been interpreters. Donghia recently released a book on textiles, Donghia, The Art of Luxury And Style, which has sold out in both of the Santa Barbara and Mill Valley Cabana Home stores.

One of the hottest designers to emerge in this outdoor fabric renaissance is Nomi. She’s a first name only gal, as in Madonna, but this California designer has taste, and tons of it. Her color sense is chic and confident and her combinations of color and texture are fresh and sophisticated. Notable is her pique-like fabric bordered in a Greek key pattern. Nomi was first known for her indoor textiles, most notably the painted Fortuny esque patterns in modern fabrics and color combinations. Unfortunately, she has limited distribution, and to the trade only, through a smaller, wholesale outdoor-teak manufacturers showroom.
Not to be outdone, Scalamandre and Stroheim are in the game, as is Shumacher, Kravet, Robert Allen, even Laura Ashley (can’t we let this icon rest in peace?), B Berger, and Joe Rugerio for Silver State (a huge Sunbrella distributor).

Now, we keep bating the Sunbrella name around, so here’s my understanding of what it’s all about. It’s actually a process that is used on the actual fibers that make up an outdoor fabric. First every strand of fiber is solution dyed, before it is spun into a yarn and woven into a fabric. In this process, every fiber is treated the same. This is opposed to first weaving the fabric and then dyeing it in the solution dye. So, as in the brand names Coke and Kleenex, Sunbrella is the catch-all name for outdoor fabric. Truth is, most outdoor strands of fabric are solution dyed by Sunbrella, but they may be woven by any number of mills for hundreds of designers and manufacturers and sold under their own labels.

When a designer designs an outdoor fabric pattern, that design goes to the Sunbrella technician, who will analyze and dissect the design into fiber counts; he then specifies x number of fibers needed for each color in the design and pattern. The fibers are then solution dyed, and sent to the mill for weaving. So, that’s my crash course on Sunbrella!

Whew, that was fun! See my Design Guy blog tomorrow for, THE INDOORS GO’S OUT!

Good night moon.

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